936 Pennies: Discovering the Joy of Intentional Parenting
Join our adventure and discover inspiration and resources for refusing rush, creating habits of rest, living intentionally, and making the most of this beautiful life!
My husband and I are not called to adopt. There was no parting of the clouds, no light beaming down from heaven. No special verse was God-breathed and prophet-penned just for us two and sprung out from the pages of my Bible over my morning coffee. No, only the same words in the same book by the same God who is love. Words for me, yes, and for you, too, friend.
We did not battle infertility. We have not walked the harrowing road of ovulation trackers, hormones, fertility treatments, and heartfelt prayers that God would fulfill our dream to conceive a child. I am not Hannah at the altar murmuring her impassioned prayers.
That is not our story.
Yet, here we are – ten months down the road, home study approved, and thousands of dollar deep into the decision to adopt. Why? Because there is a child already conceived into the world to a woman who simply isn’t ready to parent. Because a baby boy in Haiti is eating clay to fill his hungry belly. Because a teenage boy in my hometown is aging out of foster care, and is more likely to end up in prison than go to college. Because a seventeen-year-old girl sitting one pew over on Sunday carries a precious secret with a beating heart, and a plan to walk into a local abortion clinic on Monday. She knows all too well the judgment she will suffer from the Church.
Because I don’t need to carry a baby inside me to be a mom.
Because I don’t need to have a couple of “my own” first.
Because I don’t need a special calling to love a child.
Because we decided that “someday” is today.
There are plenty of reasons not to adopt, if you’re looking for them. I know, I have my own lengthy list. My husband and I got married at the wise old age of 21. (Yes, babies.) We had big dreamy plans to finish school, start our dream jobs, and then start our family. At the time, we were only two years into college, and both put school on pause because I was sick with God only knows what. We were hopeful that this was just a hiccup, and surely a couple of years of expensive doctor visits and treatments would get to the bottom of it all, and get us back on track with our big dreamy plans.
Seven years and thousands of dollars in medical bills later, our life still isn’t what we dreamed it would be. After a couple years of working to restore my health, Hubby did start school again. He worked his tail off to make ends meet, take care of me, and get his degree. (I could not be more proud of and thankful for this man.) After he graduated, he got the dream job and together we started work at a nonprofit that we adore. Our big plan was to join a friend and coworker in opening a new branch overseas. We were so ready. My health had improved quite a bit from what it was during our first years of marriage.
Then, I got sick again.
Our exotic overseas dream was effectively turned upside down. We were devastated. But we didn’t stay down. We talked with the doctors, started the medications and made diet changes. By the grace of God, and with the support of our amazing village of family and friends, we got back on our feet and built another version of the life we want – the one we’ve dreamed of.
What does all this have to do with adoption? This, friend, is our list. Do you have one? The list of reasons we “can’t.”
Modest nonprofit salary. Imperfect health. Grief of dreams shattered and plans changed. Discouragement. Fear of loss. Fear of heartbreak. Fear of being told “no” by case workers, social workers, doctors, agencies, financial assistance, or potential birth moms. Our life is far from what we hoped it would be when we took the leap into parenthood.
But if we wait until life is picture perfect, until every box on our list of ideals was checked, we will never be ready to be parents – not by adoption or biology. But, as it has so pointedly been said, no child is ready to be an orphan. No child is ready to be bounced from foster home to foster home. And women far less ready than I am aren’t always given a choice. Besides that, we want to be parents. Our hearts are ready. They’ve been ready. And we’re gonna rock it. I really believe that.
So, we wrote another list. We scratched out the “why nots” and scribbled new words in their place. A list of “why.” Our life doesn’t have to be perfect to be beautiful. Our home and salary are not glamorous, but they are safe and loving, and more than enough. I am not the picture of perfect health, but I have another kind of strength – a strength forged through hardship. We’ve been knocked down, but we didn’t stay there.
And with that list, we’re saying yes.
Yes to the endless paperwork. Yes to applying for adoption grants and fundraisers. Yes to being oh-so uncomfortably vulnerable with the home study caseworker and the rest of the world while we network and wait for an incredible woman somewhere to choose us to parent the child she isn’t ready for. Yes to the wait. Yes to the uncertainty and release of all control. Yes to living on the edge of our seats, and to my adorable husband reminding me again to breath as we wait to hear back from the sweet woman looking at our adoption profile book. Yes to hearing “no” again – and again. Because that sweet woman and her baby are worth it – even if she picks someone else. Because telling her that she has options, she’s not alone, her baby is precious – that’s worth it. Because maybe we too have walked through our hard stuff so we would be strong enough to step into theirs. Because even though the two of us can’t hope to make a dent in the heart-wrenching numbers of orphans worldwide, we can make a difference for one. And to that one, it doesn’t matter if we’ve been “called,” it matters that we showed up. So, despite the long list of reasons we can’t adopt, we say yes. Yes with all of our hearts.
Is there something God has quietly laid on your heart? Don’t wait for the skies to part, dear friend. Love needs no calling.
Friends, if you know a mama looking for an adoptive family, please pass on Carissa and BJ’s information. Their hearts are gold, and I just know that the child God has for them is going to be so blessed to call them Mom and Dad. You can follow their story here: Hoping to Adopt: BJ & Carissa as well as at BJandCarissa.com
Raising kids stirs something deep in our souls — an innate knowing that our time is finite. Taking my kids outside in creation, I’m discovering how to stretch our time and pack it to the brim with meaning. God’s creativity provides the riches of resources for teaching the next generation who He is and how He loves us. Join our adventure and discover inspiration and resources for refusing rush, creating habits of rest, living intentionally, and making the most of this beautiful life!