Our first adoption was so easy. From the beginning of the paperwork to the day we brought Caleb home was less than nine months. The entire process couldn’t have gone smoother. This experience gave us a false assurance that we were back in control of our lives. We knew how to write a good birthparent letter, we had a cute album and therefore we were picked within just a few months. No sweat. Too bad those other poor couples didn’t have it altogether like we did.
Fast forward seven years to adoption #2. We’ve learned our lesson. We now know beyond a doubt that we are not in control. Everything was submitted more than two years ago and we have finally reached the point where we have been waiting longer than any other family at our agency (which I realize is not that long, compared to what so many others have experienced). Because the birthmothers are the ones who choose which family they like best, this brings us to an unsettling realization—no one wants us.
We certainly must have done something wrong with the paperwork or the album, then, right? In fact, out of pity for us the agency recently made some suggestions for changes, such as updating some of our photos and possibly adding some more color to the scrapbook pages.
“That’s it!” I thought sarcastically after getting off the phone with the social worker. “It’s color that’s the problem. More color will solve everything. Lack of colored paper is keeping us from getting another baby. How could we have not seen this earlier??”
The entire process of adopting a child is saturated with decisions that are agonizing to make at the beginning and that cause you to constantly doubt yourself from that point forward. When the decisions have all been made and you get no referral after a few months you start torturing yourself again over what you might have done wrong. “I shouldn’t have said that we homeschool. Birthparents might think that’s weird. We should never have chosen to do foreign adoption. Everything is too uncertain. My profile really isn’t that interesting—don’t I have more hobbies than that? Should I take up some new hobbies?” Ridiculous though it may sound, these are the thoughts that come to mind. These are the thoughts that can haunt you and keep you up at night.
It’s very easy to get caught up trying to guess what the right choice is and what God wants us to do. And yet that kind of thinking only increases the stress that’s already there. Not only is it unhelpful, it’s completely unnecessary. Do you want to know what God’s will is? Here’s a great answer from an article in the book Lutheranism 101:
[God’s] will for your life is clear: ‘Repent and believe in the gospel’ (Mark 1:15). So many people are tormented, trying to figure out what God’s will is. They doubt their decisions. If a decision turns out badly, they think that they have disobeyed God. But there is no need to be uncertain. God gives you His moral Law, which is written clearly in Scripture, and He gives you the Good News about Jesus. Beyond that, He gives you freedom…
To find certainty about God’s will for your life, don’t look at your heart; look at His Word. Where He has not spoken, you have freedom. In those cases, use your reason. Then you can have certainty that what you are doing is acceptable to Him, even if your decisions go wrong. (p. 55-56)
You see, the hundreds of decisions we make pertaining to adoption can be made with confidence, logic, and assistance from wise friends, relatives and your pastor. Don’t think you can afford a foreign adoption? Then domestic is where you need to focus your efforts. Not sure you have the resources to properly raise a child of another race in the small town in which you live? Then leave that part of the checklist blank. It’s OK.
In Romans chapter 8, we are comforted by the promise that God is working everything together for our good. He has given you freedom to make plans as you see fit and He will take those plans and either fulfill them, alter them, or show you something completely different that He knows is just right for you.
So rest well tonight, my sisters, trusting that the Master weaver is taking all your decisions and plans and weaving them into a beautiful tapestry, according to His will, which has yet to be revealed to you. And while you rest, I’ll be up late, taking the advice of our wise social worker by adding new photos to our album and—you guessed it—a lot more colored paper.