I remember the moment I fell in love with my oldest daughter. We were at a carnival and she was riding on some sort of ride that had her going round and around. Her hair was flying back behind her and she was laughing as she bumped back and forth with her friend in the seat beside her. In an instant, my heart just melted and tears welled up in my eyes and I knew she really was my daughter. Legally, she wasn’t part of our family yet and at 10 years old we were her second foster home and were just at the beginning stages of adoption. But at that moment, she would forever be burned in my heart, no matter what turned out in the court system.
God had placed adoption in our hearts many, many years before this moment. Through the heartbreaking circumstance of losing a child and the emotional roller coaster of infertility issues, we knew He was calling us in that direction. While we were amazingly blessed with two biological children, His call to adopt did not leave our hearts, it just changed direction. We began considering and praying about who He would have us adopt and the circumstances under which it should take place. There was no doubt that our call was to provide a home for a child who would have a more difficult placement than a newborn or toddler.
It wasn’t an easy decision to adopt an older child and honestly we had no intention of adopting a child older than any of our children at home. God had other plans and our little Hawaiian girl pretty much fell directly in our laps. An easy going, independent survivor she assumed her role as “the middle child” in our family without hesitation.
And any of you who welcomes a little child like this because you are mine is welcoming me and caring for me. Matthew 18:5
It would seem that the story could end here, all sunshine and roses and happy ending, but it doesn’t. We are incredibly blessed to parent this child and have her as part of our family, but adoption is hard. As I speak with others who have adopted and we share our stories, I can see the relief in knowing that in the things we struggle with and the things we sometimes feel, we aren’t alone. Parenting is hard. Period. No doubt about it. The adoption element just adds a different dimension and dynamic for both the parent and the child.
As an adopted child of God, I know that this challenge is a privilege and an opportunity to extend to another the heritage that I have been given.
God sent his Son, born among us of a woman, born under the conditions of the law so that he might redeem those of us who have been kidnapped by the law. Thus we have been set free to experience our rightful heritage. You can tell for sure that you are now fully adopted as his own children because God sent the Spirit of his Son into our lives crying out, “Papa! Father!” Doesn’t that privilege of intimate conversation with God make it plain that you are not a slave, but a child? And if you are a child, you’re also an heir, with complete access to the inheritance. Galatians 4: 4-7
As in parenting any child, there have been challenges, tears and difficulties. That being said, we have never regretted the decision to love her and bring her into our family. There has also been much love, laughter and joy and to see her now becoming a strong, independent self-sufficient young adult brings pride and satisfaction to our hearts in knowing that we gave her the chance in life that might not have otherwise occurred.
How about you? Have you considered adoption?
Statistics found at the Congressional Coalition on Adoption Institute state that in the United States 397,122 children are living without permanent families in the foster care system. 101,666 of these children are eligible for adoption, but nearly 32% of these children will wait over three years in foster care before being adopted. Source: AFCARS Report, No. 20
Around the world, there are an estimated 153 million orphans who have lost one parent. There are 17,900,000 orphans who have lost both parents and are living in orphanages or on the streets and lack the care and attention required for healthy development. Source: Childinfo (UNICEF, 2011)
In 2012, 23,396 youth aged out of the U.S. foster care system without the emotional and financial support necessary to succeed. Nearly 40% had been homeless or couch surfed, nearly 60% of young men had been convicted of a crime, and only 48% were employed. 75% of women and 33% of men receive government benefits to meet basic needs. 50% of all youth who aged out were involved in substance use and 17% of the females were pregnant. Source: AFCARS Report, No. 20, Jim Casey Youth
Nearly 25% of youth aging out did not have a high school diploma or GED, and a mere 6% had finished a two- or four-year degree after aging out of foster care. One study shows 70% of all youth in foster care have the desire to attend college. Source: Midwest Evaluation of the Adult Functioning of Former Foster Youth
You don’t have to be a perfect family to be a good family, just have willing heart and the faith to just take a step. Get involved. Learn. Contribute your time and volunteer. Be the one to make a change for just one and together we can change the world.