These thoughts have been rambling around in my mind for some time. First thoughts, questions, then turning into spoken word, they are reality when spoken out loud. Then to actions… I have been asked to write an article on limitations and how my own expectations have affected our decision to start the adoption process of our 12 year old daughter. Fear is a battle. Taking the time to slow down and discover, then process what I’m really feeling and how I deal with it. It’s so scary. Dr. Karen Purvis (author of the amazing book, The Connected Child) always says that we can never see our child clearly when looking through our own baggage. That phrase has haunted my thoughts- coming back to me again and again as I debate my willingness to delve into my own baggage.
My friend Katie has been redefining limitations and how they connect our lives with God’s will and plan. How often do we put limitations on ourselves, only to step back from what God is actually calling us to do? I do that; I know I do. Fear is my biggest one, and insecurity; what will everyone else think? We are foster parents and we have always tried to say, “God, our home is open. Let us do your will and be your hands and feet.”
This fall, our faith was stretched and defined as we had to choose if we were willing to honestly say that we would do whatever God would call our family to do and love whomever he would choose to bring to us. My husband received a strange call from the social worker of a child we had had in our home for three months almost a year prior. Just a message asking us to call. He thought nothing of it; my heart, however, was racing and anticipating all of the questions she may ask us, number one on my fear list, “Would we take this child back into our home?” The next day I was able to talk with her and she indeed ask us that question. My heart stopped. I had considered her asking us, but wasn’t prepared for my reaction when she actually did. Mind you, this was no ordinary child. She is a beautiful, wonderful, smart, funny, sassy twelve year old girl who has been in limbo with CPS for almost two years. Also, to put things into perspective, I am an (almost) 25 year old mama with a toddler and preschooler… I like babies… big kids freak me out a little… long-term wise anyways. Also, when we had her in our home previously, we also had her two younger siblings, darling kids, but the most difficult, behaviorally challenging, and needy children we have ever worked with. I stammered unfinished thoughts into the phone, asking some of the questions we had considered. We took the weekend, sitting, talking, praying together. Could my husband and I even consider this? This would change our family forever. I worried about hormones and mental stability, knowing history in her family. I worried about the friends we live in community who have two adoptions blowing up right now and a child in a psychiatric long-term facility and the incredible financial stress that would come with that. I worried about our sweet girl; how would she deal with being the only dark-skinned beauty in our family? The questions that would constantly be asked. Is she yours? Really? And the insecurity that she would inevitably deal with. I worried she would be in our home for a year and we’d decide there is no possible way we could go through with adoption and her heart would be broken beyond repair; yet another abandonment. I worried about my age; am I too young to parent a daughter I would have to have birthed at 12 years old? I worried that if we don’t take her, who will give her a better story? Is it even possible for her to break the cycle of poverty and abuse? I worried she won’t be able to be truthful and deal with the hurt of her past, the sins that have been committed against her. And if she does deal with it, will I be able to help her? I worry about how much Mark will be involved and if he’ll look to me to do most of the parenting; is that a bad thing? How will he relate to a 12 year old girl becoming his daughter? How will our little kids adapt? I worried I don’t know the right expectations to have of a 12 year old and am I prepared to guide her through the ways of being a godly woman?
But God. God surrounded our family with his will, love, and peace. We couldn’t be more blessed with a church family and others who are a part of our lives, many walking through adoption and raising tweens, several with 12 year old girls actually. We took the courageous step forward and said “Yes, bring our daughter home.” However, the counselors had a different plan and proceeded with a 28 day in-home program to try and keep her with her birth mom. Our hearts were torn; we had wrestled with this decision, talked, cried, prayed, and finally trusted God’s leading. I felt like Abraham climbing the mountain and being led to sacrifice his son. When would God swoop in? Would he?
After several weeks, our sweet girl came to spend the weekend with us and our fears settled. We love her and would be willing to take the risk and join her in our story. The counselors, birth mom, and State finally jumped on board and she moved in four days later.
In our first few weeks together, I took her to the Secret Keeper Girl conference, a great time of girl talk and giggles while drawing closer to our daughters & our Creator. I was so nervous and insecure, in myself, my youth, and my ability to parent my tween daughter. God spoke to me through a fortune cookie of all things, reminding me of 1 Timothy 4:12: “Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith and in purity.” Boldly I stepped forward in confidence, trusting in God’s faithfulness as we follow in his will for our family and our daughter.
The months have passed rapidly, we are approaching six months of her home again, slowly working towards adoption. My insecurities tend to creep back in (umm.. parent teacher conferences at my small former middle school!) and I have to fall back into God’s promise. He has broken into the unknown and carried us through the challenges as they often arise. As we learn to parent, she learns to be parented. Sometimes, I feel so unequipped and worried about the next step, the days ahead. I learn, almost daily, what God means when he says that his grace is sufficient for me, for my power is made perfect in weakness. And I thank Him, for our beautiful daughter that he has hand-placed into our home.