During our adoption journey I have met some amazing, selfless people, with a long standing sense of calling to adopt children. They are sure that this was what God was asking of them and faithfully pursued this with clear purpose, confidence and diligence.
I am not one of these people.
When God started to speak to me about adoption.
And then I tried to do a Jonah. I didn’t quite board the boat in the opposite direction, but initially I pretended not to hear him.
I would like to have written a blog post entitled “How God guided me to adoption.” But I feel that would not be honest.
Therefore, here are some thoughts on:
What to do if God is speaking to you about adoption, and you are trying hard not to listen:
First of all, if you don’t want to hear God speak, there are probably some things you need to avoid:
1. The Bible
(in all forms, preaching, Christian conferences, personal devotion, daily bible verses, Christian radio)
WHAT I hear you cry, I am a Christian, I have to read the Bible, surely there are some safe, non-adoption parts that I could read …
Okay, if you insist, you are going to have to be very careful.
Firstly, in the Old Testament narratives you have people who were adopted: Moses, Ruth, Esther and Mephibosheth.
The Old Testament law and prophets, you have multiple references for God’s concern for the poor, the widows and the orphans.
Even the Psalms, God is described as the one who “sets the lonely in families.”
Steer clear of the apostle Paul, and the doctrine of being adopted into God’s family and being Co-heirs with Christ. WOW- that’s mind blowing. Co-heirs with Christ, (did I read that correctly?).
Then you have James
“the religion which God desires is this; to help widows and orphans in their distress.”
Surely, I hear you ask, I can read my children their bible stories?
Except that when I read my children the great true stories of the Bible I am reminded of:
The God who made and loved us. All of us. Who has knitted us together in our mother’s womb, who has numbered our days, counted every hair on our head and knows each sparrow when it falls;
The God who rescues his people, from slavery and oppression and called them his very own;
The God who is in control, even when terrible things happen such as flood, famine, and exile;
The God who became a human baby, who grew to be a man, who opened the eyes of the blind, calmed the storm, raised the dead, fed the hungry and died a criminal’s death, in my place, so that I might be free. Free to live for him.
While on earth, Jesus talked repeatedly about “The Kingdom of Heaven” a kingdom where the first shall be last, a Kingdom that needs to be entered like a little child, a sort of upside down kingdom where the things we think are important often aren’t, and those who mourn, who are hungry, who are persecuted, and the meek are blessed.
You might also notice that God has a track record of using unlikely people too: Moses was a murderer, King David (the man after God’s own heart) committed adultery, Gideon was hiding in a wine-press, Peter denied his Lord, Paul was hell-bent on destroying the infant church …..until He met Jesus.
2. You need to avoid spending time with Christian people who do extraordinary things for God.
The thing about these Christians is it would be so much easier if they had some sort of visible marking of “higher specification Christian“, denoting them as suitable for overseas missionary work, open air evangelism, preachers and people who foster and adopt broken children.
Maybe like, a Ultra-violet painted halo, that only showed up when you hold a bible over it. Because then I could sit back and think “I am not one of those higher specification , UV haloed Christians, because I am flawed and broken. So I can get in with my own life, inside my comfort zone, while they do the extraordinary things for God.” “Those challenging bits of the bible and those jolts of my conscience are not meant for me, no, it’s meant for them.”
The problem with spending time with overseas missionaries, full time Church workers and other whole-life disciples, people of extraordinary compassion and faith, is although, yes, they are remarkable, they are also human, and broken, like me. They tell me honestly and quietly that Jesus is the strength in their weakness. That they had moments of doubt, that they too wrestled over their calling.
And in case you were wondering, reading autobiographies of such Christians is a disaster, because many of them talk about how God took their weaknesses, their failures and their flaws and used them for his good. In ways they could not possibly imagine. If you don’t believe me, try reading my second favourite book in the world: “The Hiding Place”. By Corrie Ten Boom.
3. Make sure you discuss your thoughts about adopting with people who are going to respond in the correct way.
Surely you have friends and family members who will agree with you, (when presented with the facts correctly) that you are already doing too many good things for God to turn your life upside down by adopting. Your career progression, financial stability and your birth children’s academic and sporting pursuits might be curtailed, they will agree that this is a high risk, low chance of success venture best left to other (UV haloed) people.
4. Do not watch programs, read articles or newspaper reports about the reality facing children in our care system.
For example you might learn that sibling groups, those who are older and disabled wait longest. You might hear of those who wait for a forever family that never comes. You might realise that children’s social care is so under resourced, that very many children remain in dangerous, neglectful, abusive homes for far too long before they are taken to safety; and your heart might start to break. And you might start asking God to do something about it…
Things that should have been safe:
A. On your only child free morning of the week turning on The Chris Evans Breakfast Show on Radio 2, should be fine….unless the “Pause for thought” is about adoption.
B. Asking members of your youth group to babysit for you while you attend an local authority adoption information evening. When you return and explain to them all the reasons you have just been told why adoption is far too tough. They sit their quietly and listen, and then some weeks later say “I think it would be great if you did it“.
C. Going on your once a year (pre Christmas) shopping trip to be greeted at the door of the Mall with a massive billboard of a smiling child, with the words “Could you adopt?” written in bold underneath.
Then you might stop running and metaphorically take your fingers out of your ears and say. “Okay God. I get it. You care about this situation and these children. I am listening.”
And then you might do something terribly dangerous.
You might start to pray:
“Break my heart for what breaks yours.”
“Let your kingdom come, on earth as it is in heaven.”
“Here I am Lord, use me.”