But Adoption’s Not For Us, Is It?

DSC_0104As I shared in my most recent blog post, God has used the recent Planned Parenthood “scandal” to awaken my heart to the plight of unborn children in our nation.

But it’s neat to see how, previous to these videos being released and my awareness of abortion being heightened, God was already stirring within me a desire to help needy children.

Around February, I began giving thought to orphans. When I saw firsthand how dependent our own baby was on us for all his needs, and how he responded to the simplest gestures of affection and tenderness, it broke my heart to consider kids who don’t experience even the most basic love and care.

It’s great to be a pro-life, pro-adoption Christian, but how could I act on those convictions? I had never “felt called” to adopt, although I loved seeing adoptive families in action. I wondered to myself, What if “being called” to adopt is nothing more than simply seeing the need and our obligation to help orphans, recognizing that I am equipped to fill the need, and taking the step to do so?

Well, as soon as I thought that, suddenly my heart became very drawn to the idea of adoption and I could hardly get it off my mind. God was definitely at work!

So about this time (March?), I casually raised the topic with Andrew. I wanted to let him know that it was something I’d started thinking about, and hear his thoughts. He shared that while he had never considered adopting, he was definitely open to it, but figured during seminary was probably not workable timing. I agreed.

But over the following weeks, we discussed adoption more and more. I began looking into the various avenues for adopting children and was staggered by 1) the huge need for adoptive families and 2) the astronomical costs for both international and domestic adoptions. Then I began researching adoption through foster care. I learned that while there are huge “risks” and major challenges to this route, it is also affordable…actually, free!

By this time, Andrew and I were talking and praying more and more seriously about pursuing adoption while still in seminary. We had begun reading Adopted for Life together, which approaches the theological, gospel-centered reasons to adopt. The Lord had now clearly laid the same burden for orphans on Andrew’s heart, and we were very much “in this” together, which excited me to no end!

I looked into a local Christian foster agency and made contact. We got more questions answered and sought some trusted friends for counsel. Finally, we pulled the first of many triggers…we filled out the application and scheduled a meeting in August with the agency!

Some of the “downsides” to foster care adoption are…

  • There is no guarantee that the child placed in your home will be adoptable, even after months or years of being part of your family. He/she is likely to be reunited with their parents or relatives, which is the first goal of foster care.
  • Many foster placements require regular visits with the biological family, which can be time-consuming and emotionally draining.
  • Foster children are extremely likely to have mild-to-extreme physical, emotional, developmental, or psychological damage, even when placed as newborns.
  • The process to adopt a child from foster care can drag on for years.

While much of what we learned in our meeting with the agency made us all-the-more passionate about fostering, we learned some new information that seemed to be direction from God that continuing to pursue adoption while in seminary was not wise. We were already “running out of time” anyway due to the fact that Andrew will, Lord-willing, graduate in spring 2017, and the additional details and rules regarding the process just did not mesh well with our current situation.

All of this was extremely disappointing. I had already begun to experience maternal emotions as I prepared my heart to welcome a new child into our home, and it was difficult to have that desire denied for the time being. At the same time, it was encouraging to have clear direction, and Andrew and I were thankful that we were 100% agreed about pressing the “pause” button.

All that said, we are very hopeful and excited that the Lord may allow us to seriously pursue adoption in the future! We don’t know exactly what that will look like, as there are many factors at play, but we are eager to see what child(ren) God might choose to gift us as we follow His leading! Even if adoption is not in our own future, we desire to be more involved in promoting it and supporting others who do take this step. We’ve come to realize that as Christians, we should all love and be involved in the care of orphans, but what that looks like will be different for every family.

I wanted to share all this to hopefully encourage anyone else whose hearts might be stirred toward taking an orphan into their family. It is a huge step, but God will enable and provide if adoption is in His plan for you. I’ve seen him do it for many wonderful families I know. If you begin considering adoption, it is crucial to be unified and communicative as a couple. It has been a wonderful thing to work through and talk about with Andrew! We’ve obviously only begun to scratch the surface of all that God might desire to teach us through this, but I am excited and thankful for where the discussion has taken us so far.

In the meantime, since we will not be pouring hours into getting certified, preparing our home, etc., as we had thought we would, I am finding other ways to be involved in the care of orphans and the defense of life. Stay tuned for some updates on doors God is opening in that area!

Also, if you’re looking for an inspiring, convicting, true story of sacrificial love for orphans, go watch The Dropbox!

“Pure and undefiled religion in the sight of our God and Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their distress, and to keep oneself unstained by the world.” (James 1:27)

“Sing to God, sing praises to His name; lift up a song for Him who rides through the deserts, Whose name is the LORD, and exult before Him. A father of the fatherless and a judge for the widows, is God in His holy habitation.” (Ps. 68:4-5)

“How blessed is he who considers the helpless; The LORD will deliver him in a day of trouble.” (Ps. 41:1)

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{My Photography} Jon, Jessica, & Baby Matthew

It’s been far too long since I’ve blogged, I know. I’ve got about five different posts bouncing around in my brain, but life has been really crazy! For now I just wanted to quickly share a few photos I was privileged to capture of this sweet couple last weekend. Jon and Jessica are expecting Matthew, a sweet baby boy who has Trisomy 18. I would like to encourage you to read their story on Jessica’s blog and lift them up in prayer as they approach their due date!

http://giftofyahweh.blogspot.com/

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{Mommy Journal} Today He Swings, Tomorrow He Marries

Caleb turned six months old today. That’s half a year. He’s been in our lives outside of the womb for half a year. How did this happen?

We took him to a little playground in a beautiful park. After he had crawled around on a blanket in the grass for awhile, I put him in a playground swing for the first time. It was the perfect way to celebrate six months and he loved it from the first push.

As I sat there crosslegged in the sand, giving the swing a little shove every now and then and saying “weeeee” as Caleb drifted back and forth, grinning and squealing, I had one of those “mom moments” in a way I hadn’t before.

IMG_0428-2Suddenly, as I looked at my baby’s big brown eyes and double-chin smile, I saw him posing with his books and pencil on the first day of homeschool, cheesy grin and polo shirt-perfect. I heard him telling me, “I love her, mom” with the most earnest of expressions. And I watched him marrying the girl of his dreams on the happiest day of his life. Then, just as quickly as those visions had hopped through my mind, I was back in the sand at the playground giggling with a little boy who doesn’t even know what school is or who girls are. But he will. And it will be sooner than I realize.

I can’t imagine life without Monkey. It isn’t easy being a mom. Even with a baby who is, on whole, very adaptable and incredibly sweet, life has changed dramatically and I’ve had to sacrifice a lot of things. But there’s no better reason than this precious little life, entrusted into our care by God Himself. Every single sacrifice is more than worth the joy and delight and rewards that come with being Caleb’s mommy. His infant days are already flying by so quickly. Much sooner than I realize, I’ll be taking his kindergarten photo and watching him go on his first date.

But not today. Today I’m sitting in the sand. I’m saying,”weeeee!” And I’m pushing a pudgy six-month-old on his first ride on the swing.

{My Photography} Ordinary Joy Photography Recents

I’ve really enjoyed getting more photography practice lately. I’m finding it’s incredibly rewarding when I actually capture on camera what I envisioned in my head. (I never knew that could actually be so challenging!) I have SO much to learn and I’m still very limited in what I can get, but I’ve made progress and that’s encouraging. Here are a few favorites from my recent work. If you have an Instagram, follow me @ordinaryjoyphotography to see more! =)

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{Mommy Journal} The Merriest of Early Christmas Mornings

IMG_4055Christmas morning, shortly before 5:00 AM. This festive tree was my view as I fed my precious 5-week-old baby boy. I was seated alone in my family’s (for once) quiet living room with no illumination but twinkling lights. It was in this very spot that I had experienced the joy and childlike excitement of Christmas morning with my brothers for most of our growing up years. Here my grandpa had promised me one of his new heifer calves. Here my parents had sat one year holding their stockings, eyes barely open, because I had decided to awaken the entire house before 6:00 AM to start the festivities. Here my brothers and I had read a letter containing the news that we would be getting our sixth (and last) sibling. Here we had opened a BB gun, a kite, and a football, all hand-shopped for by my dad. Here I had gone bonkers over the stockings my mom had filled with our Christmas morning breakfast of little yogurts, string cheese, satsuma oranges, and individual boxes of cold cereal.

Now I sat here with my own child, looking ahead to sharing many of the same joyful traditions and memories with him as he grew. My heart could have burst right then and there with the nostalgia and happiness of it all.

I am so excited for the future Christmases, Lord-willing, we get to spend with Caleb and any future children God gives us. Seeing Christmas through the eyes of a child is amazing.

But most of all, I can’t wait to share with him the good news about the baby who spent his first hours in a lowly manger, and what He came to accomplish.

Christmas is merry, indeed.