Change Your Questions
Those who consider adoption and foster care understandably ask A LOT of questions. For most, it is a largely unfamiliar path, and should be considered carefully and thoughtfully. While some of these questions are purely logistical, there are some huge, soul-deep questions that seem to precede the leap into such uncharted territory.
I myself have not only asked these questions, but I have turned them over in my brain until I’m exhausted and overwhelmed. Which is why, more than once, God has prompted me to change my questions. This particular way of thinking doesn’t guarantee a specific answer, because there are so many different ways to care for vulnerable children in different seasons. But changing my questions has been vital in moving me from fear to faith – it exposes Truth that emboldens me, allowing my desire for control to fade while God’s voice is amplified.
It’s simple. Replace the words “me, my, mine, I “ with “God” or “God’s” in whatever common question you are asking yourself–in this case, for fostering or adopting.
How will this affect my other kids? becomes How will this affect God’s other kids?
Truth exposed: My kids do not belong to me, they belong to God and I have the privilege of stewarding them. God loves my kids desperately and is intimately concerned with their growth and spiritual well-being.
What if I can’t afford it? to What if God can’t afford it?
Truth exposed: God has infinite resources and will fund Kingdom callings.
What if my marriage breaks under the pressure? to What if God’s marriage breaks under the pressure?
Truth exposed: God is the greatest champion of my marriage and will protect it at all costs. It is only selfishness, not God’s will, that can sever what God has united.
What if it’s too hard for me or I am bad at it? to What if it’s too hard for God or God is bad at it?
Truth exposed: I am not alone – God empowers me, leads me, sows wisdom in me, encourages me, sanctifies me, teaches me and carries me. God knows the children that will enter my home and will generously reveal how best to serve and shepherd them.
What if I get invested and my heart gets broken? to What if God gets invested and God’s heart gets broken?
Truth exposed: The Incarnation and the Crucifixion prove that self-preservation is not part of God’s relational model. God’s heart is broken for vulnerable children, and it is an honor to work, to suffer and to mourn alongside Christ in caring for those kids.
If this exercise feels dismissive, I promise you that I take all these questions very seriously. They are mine, born from my own painful experiences.
I have wept in the middle of the night, trying in vain to wake my biological daughter from the night terrors that accompany new placements. I have stood dejectedly next to my mailbox, disappointed that there was no miraculous money to fund our adoption home study. I have looked across the living room at my husband, over the chaos of four small children, and wondered what happened to the sweetness of my marriage. I have failed the children in my home in more times and in more ways than I can recount, and I have begged God to take back the cup He asked me to drink. I have driven home with an empty car seat.
The pain of these memories makes them easy to recall and quick to flood my consciousness – honestly, I can too easily let them define my narrative of adoption and foster care.
But, letting God teach me to change my questions reminds me of all the provision, kindness, victory, restoration, and joy that has been sewn into my story. I have seen my biological daughter take up her own powerful ministry: teaching, serving, connecting with and lavishly loving the kids in our home. I have a beautiful blue-eyed treasure and no debt. I have seen God restore what was stolen in my marriage, and the fires have welded us – our strengths, desires and hearts – together with unyielding strength. God has forgiven my multitude of mistakes, and has used me, in spite of myself, to train, advocate for and love the kids in my home. And while the sorrows and losses are real, I have truly seen the face of God in all the kids I’ve loved–whether they are mine forever or not.
So keep asking questions, just make sure they are the right ones… and let God move you from fear to faith.
Emily is wife to Josh and momma to Phoenix (6), Jericho (4) and a 15-year-old foster daughter. Emily is passionate about adoption and foster care, student ministry and (less importantly) Harry Potter. She spends her days homeschooling, managing Type 1 diabetes, reading, serving in her church and working at a local bookstore.
pc: Ethan Lofton