Been there, done that, and got the t-shirt to prove it.
This has become a common saying in our culture. It is usually attached to a feat accomplished that one did not enjoy and certainly does not want to attempt again. It’s a statement that essentially says I did what I set out to do and now I will move on to bigger and better things.
It does not take one long to search on facebook or twitter and come across a great cause that someone is raising money for. Many of these are great charities that do wonderful work across the world. Whether it is drilling water wells or raising funds to go on a mission trip to some remote location on another continent, people love the idea of promoting their cause on a t-shirt.
It seems that the most common fundraisers today that boast of t-shirts for sale is that of raising money for adoption. Families choose the area of the world in which they will adopt from and quickly print shirts to promote their great cause.
I love when families do this! In fact my wife and I have several shirts hanging in our closet promoting things like this from around the world. It is a great way to raise money and awareness. However…..
Adoption is more than a t-shirt!
I do not speak as one who has no clue of the life changing adoption process. My wife and I are the extremely proud parents of a sweet precious daughter from Africa. We love her and the journey the Lord took us on to adopt her. However, I want to share my heart about what adoption looks like:
It’s a Calling:
Adoption is not an easy road. In fact it is one of great difficulty. There will be many days in which you ride an emotional roller coaster that would make the Texas Giant seem like a kiddie ride. It is hard, long, grueling, disappointing, frustrating, while at the same time filled with joy, hope, dreams, passion, and love. Many times you cycle through each of these emotions in a single day. I remember many times as we were anxiously awaiting a call to be matched with our daughter, having to explain to my wife that the call had not come. Seeing her continuous heart break over and over again made me feel helpless as a man who loves his wife and wants to see her happy.
I only tell you this because adoption can’t just be a good concept, it has to be a calling. The amount of difficulties and hardship that takes place during the process can only be sustained if you are truly called to bring a child into your family forever.
It’s Spiritual Warfare:
In reading scripture it is easy to see that God has a heart for adoption. In fact He describes us as being adopted and heirs as His children. It is also said that one of the main mandates for the church is to help orphans. So when you feel that God is calling you to adopt, please understand that you are entering a different type of battlefield than you have ever encountered. I believe the enemy knows that he has a foot into the door of an orphans life. He will spend as much time as he can deceiving them into believing that they are no good. He will tell them that they are not loved. He will constantly remind them that no one else sees value in them. Of course we know that he is the father of lies and will try to grab their heart at the earliest point. Then enters a family who believes that God has called them to love, nurture, and adopt this child. The enemy panics! He loses control of the situation just as he does every time God steps into the picture. He then looks for other ways to disrupt what God is orchestrating. His easiest target is this family who are emotionally spent, financially stressed, and spiritually exhausted. He sweeps in with doubts, uncertainty, and frustrations. All the while pushing the buttons that cause families to collide with each other in the absence of patience. Adoption is a whole new level of spiritual warfare.
It’s a Gift:
Many times people think…wow, you are blessing this child. When in all reality the child is blessing us. Never before have we experienced a love like this. It is a love that transcends the “normal” parenting experience. Don’t get me wrong, there are many questions during the adoption process like “Am I sure that I can love a child that is not mine biologically” or “How do you love a child from another culture” or the most common one that swam around in my head, “Can I love this child as much as my biological children”? The overwhelming answer is YES. There is an old saying that “Where God guides, He provides”. When God leads a family to adopt, He ultimately equips them with a supernatural dose of love. Adoption is a gift! Not a gift for an orphan in some remote part of the world. They likely cannot have a proper concept of adoption. Adoption is a gift for the family who adopts. It is as if God lets you in on an elite part of His mission of redemption. It is a joy because you enter into a new realm of God’s purpose for you and your family.
It’s a Challenge:
Now the reality hits. You are home with a new family member. You are trying to get a routine schedule in tact while at the same time trying to help your new child adjust. You are trying to make sure that you follow all of the advice and wisdom that you heard and read without any mistakes. Your family is for the first time trying to get used to the “New Normal” You see we are comfortable dreaming up a scenario in which everything is great all the time. That our family has adjusted as if there was no rough waters to navigate though. We do this because we try to hold on the the romanticism of adoption that has unfortunately been misconstrued in our culture. People paint you out to be some kind of super hero, spiritually in tact, family that has it all together constantly. When in all reality all you are is obedient to the call God has placed on your family. Adoption is hard! It is hard on a marriage. It is hard as a parent. It is hard financially. It is hard spiritually. However isn’t everything that is lasting accompanied by some degree of difficulty? Adoption is a challenge, but certainly one worth taking!
It’s Worth It
Even as I sit here and write this, I cherish the new laughter in our house. A new voice with new dreams and a new joy. Though an adoption process is long and grueling, it is definitely worth the journey. To know that you are a part of something God values is overwhelming and filled with peace. It is worth it to know that your love can be expanded beyond biological boundaries and that your family can together connect with the heart of God! If you are praying about adopting, I emphatically say go for it, but in the long run He should be the voice you hear. In the end, nothing is more worth it than extending God’s love beyond your ability.
So please understand. Adoption is more than a t-shirt. It is more than a fundraiser. It is more than faces of children around the world. It is simply God’s heart played out in the every day life of families.