The date passed once again recently… July 20th. The date we once celebrated as a family because our adoption dossier was now officially in Ethiopia and on file with the Ministry of Women, Children, and Youth Affairs. The date we knew would bring us one step closer to the little girl we’d dreamed about and had a special place for in our hearts, even though we had yet to know her name or see her face.
Some would say that is silly. But no one would tell a pregnant woman that. Just because a child hasn’t been seen or named yet doesn’t mean they haven’t grown in your heart – already seeming like yours. Belonging. And adoption is no different. It is a long painstakingly arduous process of money and time. By the time a dossier is submitted, many long hours on paperwork and many thousands of dollars have impregnated a mother with the fiercest love, making that child so dear in her heart that she doesn’t have to know their name or see their face yet. That child is altogether precious and loved, and seems so meant to be a part of that particular family.
So when an adoption is interrupted or unable to be finalized due to various circumstances, it hurts. Badly. I’ve heard it compared to a miscarriage, and having had one of those as well, I fully believe it. Both losses to grieve. Both losses due to unpreventable circumstances. Both children who had a piece of your heart. Children that had been oh, so celebrated and longed for – who seemed like they belonged right in your family. Now gone. With only a few numbers of a date left to remember them that now brings pain and tearful memories of unfulfilled dreams.
It’s been years, and I still sometimes count my children while we are out and think for a moment that one is missing. My daughter still longs for a little sister and wonders why God hasn’t answered that prayer. Precious pieces of Africa and little reminders of our adoption process are still in various places around our home.
I don’t know why God allowed us to pass through the many obstacles in the adoption process if it wasn’t meant to be. He could have easily halted it through a medical issue or financial setback. Just like many other questions about things that have happened in this life, I may not ever have the answers. But I do know that He broke my heart for orphans in the process, and I’ll never be the same. There will always be a special place there in my heart, whether or not I ever get the blessing of actually adopting a child. And there are so many ways to support and care for orphans without adopting – be it sponsoring children, giving to ministries that are on the ground, practically helping widows and orphans (have you heard about Man Up and Go yet?), or encouraging and being a help to other families who are adopting or are in the midst of an adjustment process after adopting.
Don’t ever let anyone tell you that your current circumstances limit you from serving in some capacity. This applies to adoption as well. As the body of Christ, we hurt and rejoice with others in their stories – not just in the midst of our own. I wrote this years ago when we were on the waiting list to get a referral for a child, and it still applies today.
Do I know what will happen tomorrow, or next year, or any time following, regarding our adoption? No, but I know Who holds tomorrow, and He can erase any fear and allow us to just say “yes” to opportunities to be a light today – without having to know all the future details. That may be just lending someone a hand, sitting down to read a book with one of my children when I have a hundred other things to do, or sending out an encouraging note. We aren’t all called to adopt, and those of us who are called to adopt still may not have that opportunity for awhile.
But we are all called to love.
So let’s do it, people. Let’s love. And if that love brings you to adopt, then you are in for an incredible ride. But if not, that’s ok too. Loving is quite a ride in and of itself, and a beautiful one at that.
Just do something.