We had two biological children when God first seriously put adoption on our hearts. My pregnancies had been challenging on many levels, and we had no desire to travel that path yet again. There were over 147 million orphans worldwide in need of a forever family, and we sensed God calling us to one of those children. We began to prayerfully consider the idea of adopting, and God’s whispers very quickly became deafening. But where was our child?
We had always felt an unexplainable draw to China. Life for girls there had been tragic throughout most of the country’s history. For a multitude of reasons we decided to pursue one of China’s precious daughters. About four months passed and we were nearing the end of the seemingly endless amount of paperwork required in a Chinese adoption when we learned I was (unexpectedly) pregnant with our third child. After much wrestling, we put our adoption on hold and spent the next year surviving a pregnancy and adjusting to being a family of five.
Life was very full and most thought that we would no longer pursue adoption. But God had opened our eyes to the plight of the orphan, and looking the other way was no longer an option. He had broken our hearts for these children and somewhere between our second and third child, He had broken us. We had awakened to the true joy and purpose of parenting. We had surrendered to him. We put our orderly, controlled plan away and put our faith in Him as the designer of our family. However, during our hiatus, the wait for a baby from China had grown from one year to over three years. We had desperately hoped that our children, both biological and adopted, would be one contiguous group, and this wait made the age gap seem too large. After some research, it seemed that Ethiopia might be the solution for our family. However, we were conflicted. We were still invested in China, and we felt hopelessly connected to the little girls there— but there were over five million orphans in Ethiopia. It seemed an impossible choice.
Why did we have to choose?
For quite some time, I heard God’s inaudible voice, “Both of those children are yours.” I never mentioned it to my husband. Five kids? I was afraid that if I actually spoke the words, it might come true. I was in no way gifted or equipped to be a mother to five children. As most in the Bible, I was an unwilling and doubtful servant. I still said nothing to my husband. If God brought him to the same place, then the path would be clear. Patrick was wrestling with his ability to be a good parent and to provide for so many children. To suggest that we adopt two? He would never agree. I continued to wait. But one weekend, as we talked while driving to Charleston, SC, he turned to me and said, “I think we should do both.”
We finished our paperwork for both Ethiopia and China at about the same time last spring. We are currently one year into a wait for China that has grown to over four years. This past February, we brought home our nine-month old baby boy from Ethiopia. As I recount our story, I can hear his infectious laugh while my other kids participate in one of their new favorite pastimes…entertaining their baby brother. The road we traveled was long, and there were so many instances when we were consumed with fear. There were innumerable times when we simply had to take the next baby step because the big picture seemed impossible. But when I hear my kids together in the next room…I am overwhelmed by God’s faithfulness.
We continue to wrestle with feelings of inadequacy as parents. It is a daily struggle to lay down ourselves and make the sacrifices necessary in raising a large family. We are hopeful that there is a little girl from China in our future, but we know that God may have a different plan. Regardless of how the details unfold, God has opened our eyes to the suffering of these precious little souls, and we cannot turn away. He is our perfect family planner.