In the game of Cricket, when you learn to bat, one of the first things you are taught is to adopt the correct stance. This stance combines posture and positioning to give you the best chance of handling whatever a bowler could throw at you. Looking back I realise that what you will read below was a similar process. Dealing with the questions and coming to conclusions was teaching me the correct stance. Answering these questions gave me the best chance of handling whatever the adoption process and subsequent parenting could throw at me.
In this post I get a little more open and vulnerable. We all wrestle our hearts on certain things, these are just some of mine.
Deciding to actually consider adoption was a big step for me. Liezl had an incredible faith in this and seemed to have all the implications considered and settled within moments. My experience was different. It was quite daunting actually. While some of the questions raised in the previous post fell away quite easily, there were a couple of key things I needed to work through before I could say yes to adoption.
- I felt like adoption was giving up on a promise. I’ve felt for a long time, even longer than I’ve known Liezl, that God has promised me a son, my Gabriel. Sadly, after over five years we still don’t have little Gabriel but I still believe in the promise. If, ultimately, we don’t get our little Gabriel, then this very public post will be a little embarrassing. But I have a conviction and I’m going to stick with it if that’s okay.
- I felt that deciding to adopt was not acting in faith. Abraham’s story was a very real parallel. What if adoption was an ‘Ishmael’? I felt that adoption meant that I had lost faith in what God had promised and was trying to make God’s plan work for Him. I didn’t want that.
- The third hurdle for me was perhaps the biggest one. In my heart I felt like adopting was a consolation prize – like it was second best. How could I take a child in who I felt was only the next best thing to a biological child? A heart like this would invariably hurt the child and I wasn’t prepared to go there.
The solutions? Well, the first answer was the reminder that we had spoken about adopting long before we knew we would actually consider it. For us it was an indicator of a seed God had planted many years before. Also, taking Amo didn’t mean God’s promise fell away. It has always been there. Obviously God can have many simultaneous promises in line for us at any given time. I just had to realise that I wasn’t negating any promises by looking into adoption.
The faith question is an interesting one. We exercise faith for different things in different ways. An important revelation here was that faith for biological children wasn’t gone, there was just another faith, an additional faith for adopting a child. What kind of life would we have if we were only able to have faith for one thing at a time? Retrospectively I can see that just going through the adoption process took a great deal of faith. On a number of occasions we felt like we were out on a limb, at any moment the whole process could have collapsed and at any moment we could have been left hurt and disappointed. On top of that, I realised Ishmael was a result of Abraham’s sin. Adoption is not sinful, in fact it is regarded highly in Scripture.
My main issue was a trickier proposition. The western world has interesting ideals. Many of us, myself included, have a very well constructed view of what a family should be. A man will look for the right girl, get married, after two or three years they’ll have two kids who will go to good schools, get into varsity, get a good job, find the right guy or girl… and so the cycle goes on. Obviously none of these things are bad, it’s just that adoption really challenged what my ideals were at the time. Ultimately, in adopting we found ourselves in other unconventional ideals that you’ll pick up throughout this blog.
This is the way I chose to see it. I chose to try to model my heart after God’s. God was the perfect example of an adoptive father. God saved us out of slavery, adopted us into His family and made us equal with His Son. Whatever child we took in would be our child. No better and no worse than a biological child. I resolved to love the child we were given, whether biological or adopted.
As it turned out, it was impossible not to adore Amo. What I thought was my main issue was never an issue. It’s difficult to explain but Amo was ours from the moment God showed us that she was the girl He wanted us to take. While I was prepared to work through the potential hurdles regarding adopted versus biological kids, I’ve never had to. We loved her from the moment we first saw her and have never looked back.