Sometimes I can’t help but smile when people tell me they’re just not sure how the Lord wants them to serve. “Lord, what do you want me to do with my life?” they’ll repeatedly pray.
I grin because, regardless of whatever unique and specific calling God may place on each of us, He’s already communicated many things that He expects from all of us. One is found in Scripture nearly 50 times: to care for the widow and the orphan (for example, James 1:27).
I wonder if the Lord grins, too. Does He whisper to our heart and say, “What should you do? Well, for the 51st time, ‘Take care of the widow and the orphan’”?
The Lord doesn’t call all of us to adopt, of course, but we each have a role to play in being the hands and feet of Jesus to the less fortunate. Still, sometimes I think we can be a little bullheaded, distracted, or we just don’t connect the dots the Lord has laid out so plainly.
That was the story for Tricia Goyer. She never thought about adoption, either. She and her husband, John, already had busy careers and three kids demanding much of their attention. But then the Lord spoke to her heart through a magazine article she stumbled across that explained the dilemma of baby girls in China who needed homes.
Later that night, Tricia asked John how he felt about the idea of adopting a child. He wasn’t particularly enthused. In his defense, it’s common for either the husband or the wife to feel stirred toward adoption, while their spouse doesn’t initially sense the same urgency. Still, Tricia had to relinquish her desire to God.
It took nearly seven years for John to sense the Lord’s nudge to pursue adoption. To obey, John, too, had to relinquish his own plans to the Lord. John had hoped to run an orphanage – someday, maybe down the road when he retired. But the Lord impressed on John’s heart that His calling wasn’t for “someday” because someday may never come.
The call is now.
The call – the sense that caring for orphans is God’s work – is crucial. Adoption is a beautiful rose in the life of a child in need of a forever home. But every rose has a thorn, and you can’t carry the burden associated with adoption unless you’re willing to relinquish your plans to God.
As is often the case when we’re stepping into the lives of the brokenhearted, the work of adoption can be tough. Children in foster care are in that situation for a reason. It usually means something has gone terribly wrong at home to necessitate that they be removed from their families in the first place.
Many children have built emotional walls and are dealing with wounds from a painful past. They may have spent years moving from one foster care home to another, yet have never felt like they belonged anywhere. Despite an adoptive parent’s best intentions, these children may reject their efforts to say, “I love you, and I’m here for you,” because these children have heard that from countless other adults who ended up not sticking by their side.
Adoption is a call that you have to go into with your eyes wide open. You’ll be tested in your parenting skills and your love for these children. It’s wise to understand that before you take that step. Adoption is more than giving a child a warm bed, clothes, and food for their bellies. They need nourishment for their souls as well. That takes time and patience, love and grace, dedication and perseverance.
Jean and I do respite care for foster families. Just recently we had a couple of boys stay with us. I – along with my sons, Trent and Troy – took the older one miniature golfing. We thought it would be something fun and easy for us all to do together. But the little boy got frustrated that he couldn’t hit the ball through the little tube and exploded emotionally. At one point, he even took the ball and threw it over the fence and into the street.
That’s the kind of behavioral outburst that often gets adoptive children sent back to foster care. It’s also how the child tests whether or not you’re going to hang with them through the difficulties of life. It’s an opportunity for you to communicate, “You’re behavior is inappropriate. But you’re still here. We’re still here. You are my forever child.”
To this point, it may sound like I’m trying to talk you into and out of pursuing adoption, all in the same blog. I’d frame it differently: I’m encouraging you to pray about how God wants to use you in the lives of children in need and then to prepare for the hard work that role may require.
There is a lot of support available for you if you choose to adopt, but the job isn’t easy, and these kids deserve adults who are committed to their lives.
On our program today, we’ll have an honest discussion about the blessings and challenges of adoption with our guests, Tricia and John Goyer. As they’ll tell you, your success depends on your willingness to relinquish your plans to God and to seek His will.
The process can be uncomfortable, but worth it. As John says, “There are a lot of times I wish I had more quiet. There are a lot of times I wish I had some free time just to do something else that I want to do. But I also recognize that this life is a race to be run for my God, and if I cross the finish line walking because I wanted to save something for the end, that’s not right. I don’t want to stand before my Creator God someday and say, ‘I had something left. Now what do we do with it?’ I want to leave it all here.”