Why Adoption? Why Now?
For as long as I can remember, I have considered, dreamed, and talked about adoption. My mom told me recently that I talked about it even further back than I could remember. In 2001, I spent a summer in Southeast Asia as a missionary. There are moments from that summer that have remained burned in my memory. A destitute woman trying to hand me, a silly 20 year old girl, her baby – convinced her baby would have a better life with me than even her own mother. A street kid begging for food every time we ate at one particular restaurant. While this tiny little guy would begin to try and charm us out of our food or money, the restaurant owner would run him off. I remember feeling overwhelmingly sad for that little boy, while that restaurant owner remarked she wouldn’t have any customers left if he didn’t go somewhere else. He couldn’t have been older than six or seven.
Throughout the years, my longing to be part of that story never changed. Through our marriage, there have been pieces of conversations through the years where this dream, this passion, has always been there.
But for many years, that has not been God’s plan for us. We married before we were even out of college and life became a whirlwind of new jobs, master’s degrees, moving, a house, career decisions, two babies. The past ten years have been rich. And full.
In summer of 2011, Bennett was 9 months old. Pregnancy was not my favorite to begin with, but his extra large size at birth especially had done a number on me. We knew we were done with biological kids and made things…um permanent. We felt fairly confident, however, that our family was not complete. For the past three years, we have talked about adoption as a sort of wistful possibility. Maybe someday when our kids are a littler older. But there have always been fears about our ability to take this on, fears about finances, and never a green light from God about timing. In the meantime, God called us to follow Him on the adventure of starting the counseling center at The Waters and joining the pastoral staff there as well as a year long journey for Russ to a new career – helping us realize that obedience, however hard and scary, results in bigger blessings than our hearts could dream up.
Towards the end of 2013, my dad was diagnosed with a rare form of dementia called Pick’s Disease. There are similarities to Alzheimer’s, however what he has seems to be progressing more quickly. It has been devastating. Much of the past year has been spent grieving, processing, spending as much time as we can with our family, and trying to balance enjoying the time we have now with preparing for what is coming next. I can honestly tell you that adopting at this point was not on our minds – we know we are already walking out one journey.
In the summer of 2014, one of my close friends spoke over me that 2015 was going to be a big year for my family. That the Holy Spirit had told him that I need draw in my wagons, if you will, be protective of my time and what I take on, and that I need to be highly available for my family in the next year.
I knew what he was thinking, what the logical conclusion was – my dad. I also knew in that moment that was not the case. That was the first word I heard from God that adoption was coming. I was overwhelmed. I didn’t tell Russ. I basically told God that he would have to make things very obvious if this was indeed our “go” time.
Over the course of the fall, adoption was everywhere. Everything I read, in my time with God, people I ran into. I continued to ask God to make things clear. Russ and I had several conversations about all of it, although I kept much of the weight of what God was saying to me on the inside as I continued to run from it a little.
Last year, our church launched a missions effort called Waters Global. We sent out four teams over the course of 2014 to different places. Russ and I led a group to the Los Angeles Dream Center in August. The experience was life-changing. One of the things I came home with was an even deeper desire to not just be about causes but to resolve to do my part as I feel led, no matter how little or insignificant it felt. Something I have prayed about a lot since that trip is how to address the needs I see, the ones I am “triggered” by, when I am just me – just one person. And God has reminded me – “I don’t expect you to do everything, but do SOMETHING. Don’t turn a blind eye to all the hurt you know about because you can’t fix all of it.” I have realized that it’s not about changing the masses. I might never do that. But my individual actions can have individual effects.
In early December, Waters Global launched for 2015. Russ and I sat in the back of the auditorium as they introduced the trips for the upcoming year. We were both so thankful for all God had done over the past year and so excited about the coming trips. At one point we looked at each other and checked in – “you feeling like you are supposed to be on any of these?”. Both of us were a resounding no. Like we probably could not have felt any more no-ish.
And again, I knew. I knew we weren’t going on any trips because God had another adventure in front of us. A crazy, beautiful, life-changing, forever, expensive adventure. 2015 was the year we adopt.
This time I told him. In true Russ fashion, he told me we would pray about it.
I have to give my husband credit. We both know that his default would probably be a more…conventional life. At this point we laugh about how many things in our life have started with me saying “hey, what do you think about _____________ “. At one point in our lives, it bothered me that lots of things were my idea. But I know how blessed I am now. I am a visionary, a dreamer. Russ is a practical, steady force in my life. But despite his innate desire for things to feel steady and ordinary, this man wants to know and follow the heart of God above anything else. I will never stop being grateful for his heart – to be obedient no matter what. I know though, making me happy is high on his list. I begged him this time – don’t say yes to me. I only want to do this if you truly believe this is an act of obedience.
As we began to pray seriously, we both received confirmation separately. I’ve already written about some of my moments. I’ll never forget standing in our kitchen, hearing him tell me that he knows we are supposed to go down this road, hearing his words about God revealing Himself to him. I hope I always remember that moment.
One of the very beautiful and further confirming moments in this journey was telling my mom. Russ had asked me some hard questions along the way about if I was really prepared to walk through this as we take this journey with my dad. I had some answers, but one of my primary responses to that is that I have to believe that if we are being obedient, that God has gone before us in that (Romans 8:28).
I admit I was nervous to tell my mom. I struggle some with thinking the worst about people as it is, but I also anticipated that she would question the wisdom of the timing. Nobody knows the difficulty of all this like her.
But my mama, my sweet, Godly mama. It was pretty incredible. She reminded me that even in the midst of our heart-breaking circumstance, life doesn’t stop. That God doesn’t stop working. She reminded me that we still have time with my dad, that he and this grandchild will still get to know each other. She was excited. She rebuked the fears I had been carrying with me – will God provide? will Campbell and Bennett thrive? She expressed belief and affirmation in us – that we know how to hear God and that we know all that He promises.
And she is right. Although there are so many unknowns in all this, we know that God is trustworthy and we can believe Him to do what He says He is going to do. And we know that at the end of all this, we will be able to give Him glory that He gave an orphan a family and gave us another daughter.
Starting waaaaaay back when, I have felt passionate about international adoption. I’m going to assume that goes back to missions experiences.
We essentially came full-circle here. I would have told you years ago that our heart was to adopt internationally, but major fear and insecurity developed about finances. We prayed about foster care/foster-to-adopt, because (to be totally transparent) we could afford it, but that did not feel like the right fit for our family. I think it is a great option for some people. It was not the right thing for our family.
As we began to look internationally again, we prayed and were drawn to China. It is a great fit for us time-wise and travel-wise. And of the international options, it is on the less expensive side (seriously! insane, I know.)