(Christmas pictures 2 years ago)
This is a hard blog post to write. Full of emotions. I’m praying you will hear my heart and be encouraged, even through our disappointment.
In the last few weeks my husband and I had to make a big decision. We knew that the day would be coming when we had to decide whether or not to renew our license to adopt. We started this journey 4 years ago next month and we were so, so naïve. I think we thought that because we were, let’s face it…… an awwwwwwwwwwwesome family (lol), that our wait would be short. I also think that we thought that because we were Christians that God would somehow magically make the process happen quickly for us (why do we believers sometimes think we will get special treatment? lol). And we were also just really naïve to the fact of how stinkin’, ridiculously hard this adoption thing is.
When we first began our journey , we were wanting to adopt a newborn from a private agency. After waiting about a year and a half we realized that very few birth moms even want to see the profiles of families who have 3 biological children. Statistically speaking, the majority of birthmothers are young. And studies show that those young mothers want their children to be the only children in the family or in a family where there is already an adopted child. I cannot argue with that logic. So since we had 3 kiddos, we were rarely considered. Our profile was shown 10-12 times, but usually the “feedback” was that the birthmoms wanted homes without children. We could have switched agencies to several agencies that had more babies available more frequently, but frankly, we could not afford it. We checked into agencies that were $35,000-$45,000 and just could not bring ourselves to mortgage our home or borrow from our 401ks.
So, that’s when we decided that we would try to adopt a child out of foster care. We had been watching Ava get older and we just really did not want a huge gap between her and the next kiddo anyway. We decided that with all of the kids in foster care and with all of the statistics on websites and with all of the need that we hear about…. that surely that process would go better for us. We were looking for a healthy girl of any race, under the age of 6. We thought that would be easy to find.
Well, we’ve been waiting with the state of Missouri for almost two years. We’ve gone through more finger printing and home study sessions and Saturday trainings than what I care to blog about. And we were happy to do it because we really did feel like this was exactly, exactly, EXACTLY what the Lord wanted us to do. And yet, our profile has only been considered twice in 2 years. We didn’t know going in that rarely….. rarely is there just one child in foster care. Usually it is a sibling SET. FAMILY often takes just one kiddo in the system. And most often, the children are NOT under 6. They are tweens and teens that I just want to wrap my arms around and tell them they are valuable, but we were adamant about the birth order in our home. We WERE presented with the opportunity to adopt a sibling set that had some special needs. But after much, much prayer, we just felt like it was more than our family could do. And we said no. And I wept but I knew it was right.
So, now has come the time when we either have to renew our license or pull out. And “renewing our license” unfortunately means many, many, many more hours of continuing education before the end of November (I think we would need an additional 30 hours of training). It also means another round of home studies and another round of finger printing and another round of all the stinkin’ stuff that comes with “the system” (it took me 6 months to finish our paperwork the first time!).
And in the event that it would appear I am complaining about the system, I’d like to also mention that I did apply for a board position with the state of Missouri so that I could help improve the very system that I am frustrated with. It was a volunteer, unpaid position that would require me to travel to our state’s capital for meetings every quarter, but I would have been happy to do it. There is something very wrong with a system that has the kind of turnover that ours does, with very overworked and underpaid social workers whose hands are TIED because of red tape. It’s tragic really. But, I never heard a word back from the state.
And so, since the journey has been so long and so discouraging, it really didn’t even take a lot of decision-making by my husband and I. It wasn’t like we sat down and tried to wrestle thru the decision of whether or not to continue. Rather, it was just verbalizing the finality of it that was already in our hearts.
As the almost 4 years have gone by, it’s begun to settle in both of our hearts that maybe this dream of adopting would not happen. We started to get rid of our baby stuff last year. We started to prep our kids for this may not happening. And so the actual decision almost seemed to make itself at this point. But I want to be totally transparent here….. The wrestling in my heart has not been over the decision of whether or not to continue? The wrestling in my heart has been wondering if we were even on the right path in the first place?
Now, I know what some of you are thinking. You’re thinking that if we would be foster parents first that we would have a much better chance of adopting and you are absolutely right. And I can tell you as certain as I’m sitting here, that with all of our hearts, my husband and I have never felt led to foster. Let me tell you a story.
We had neighbors once who had 2 daughters who I loved like my own. Their home had many problems that I was helpless to fix. But our family gave our hearts to those girls. Those girls spent many, many days with us. They would get off the bus and come to our home. They would have dinner with us. They would spend the night with us. They would go on family outings with us. I loved those girls with everything in me for the 3 years that they lived by us.
And I remember the day that I sat on my front steps and watched them move away from our block. And I cried because I knew that my season of being able to love them-and in some way hopefully help protect and heal their little hearts- was over. I sat on my front steps and bawled like a baby that they were no longer going to be somewhere “safe”. Who would call DFS? Who would take them to church? Who would protect them when their parent’s weren’t well enough to? It was the very month they moved that we started our adoption process. Loving and loosing those girls was what spurred me to want to follow the dream I had in my heart for YEARS. But I knew that we were to be a permanent solution for some little girl. We did not want to be a temporary stop where the state may send them back to an unhealthy home and our 3 biological kids would have to deal with that heartbreak also. No, my heart is not knit for that and neither was my husband’s or our kid’s and we knew it.
In retrospect, I DO wonder if we should have considered international adoption? I look at one of my heroes, Jen Hatmaker and see her precious family. And I have personally met Layla from The Lettered Cottage and see how close they are to getting their son. The temptation is to feel like we messed up. The temptation is to see their journeys and compare. The temptation is to feel LIKE WE HEARD GOD WRONG. And then the BIGGEST temptation is to feel like if we heard God wrong in this area, then do we even hear him at all?
I wish I could just reach thru the screen and hug every one of you who I know have made decisions in your life that you thought you were SUPPOSED to make and they just didn’t go the way you planned. You thought you were obedient in that job change, and it failed. You were faithful in that marriage, and he left anyway. You raised your kids in church every week and they still wandered from their faith. I know some of you know what I’m talking about. You feel like you do all the right things and you are faithful to what you feel like God’s asking you to do….. and you end up feeling frankly, a little railroaded. I get it. And the temptation is to be jaded. And doubt that you have ears to hear. And not even want to try again the next time you feel like God is leading you. I want you know that is EXACTLY what the enemy hopes you and I will do.
I hope you can hear my heart here because I know that we have not traveled this journey in vain. And YOU have not traveled your journey in vain either. I know that God takes what the enemy has planned for evil and He uses it for good. I know someone needs to hear that just because you are disappointed God did not work something out like you thought it would go, that He is STILL a GOOD God. And you STILL have a purpose and call on your life. And you DO hear from Him. And your journey, my dear friend, was NOT in vain. And neither was ours.
So, when people ask me why I think that adoption did not work out for us, I have no answer. I’m not sure that we’ll ever know the answer to that on this side of Heaven. I’ve been tempted so many times to be offended because I feel like I sense judgment in their comments and questions. Even though they’re not saying it, I feel like they are insinuating that “we didn’t hear from God”. Or equally as painful…. that we weren’t “ready to adopt”. But I can tell you that I know with everything in me we have tried to be as obedient as we could throughout this journey. And at the end of the day, I have no idea why we were never selected. But I do know, that if God was testing our obedience, we have passed that test. If God just wanted to see if we would say yes, we did. I don’t know that God is a “tester” in those ways. But I do believe we did the best with what we thought He asked us to do.
I’ve tried to think of other things that we can do and frankly, right now I think we will just rest. Perhaps at some point we will sponsor a child in another country? Perhaps, at some point, we will go on a mission trip to an orphanage? Perhaps, at some point, we will find out that our journey, albeit that it ended up unsuccessful, perhaps it inspired someone else to successfully adopt. And that my friends will make my heart so, so happy. Because adoption is a good thing. Don’t let our journey discourage you. If you feel led at all to add a child to your family thru adoption, I urge you to try.
Because my heart is FOR children. And FOR families. And FOR adoption.
So while my heart is sad and my heart is disappointed, it’s also at peace. God has other things in store for my family and He knows best. Of that I am certain.
And as for the 3 precious biological children that the Lord has entrusted to us…. I just have to trust that God will make good of their disappointment too. When I spoke to each of the kids separately about our decision and checked in on each of their hearts, 2 of the 3 of them responded in very deep, Christ-like manner by asking “well, can we at least get a dog?” So, I’m thinking they will be ok. Ha!
But yet, Ava did draw another family picture tonight of “our family” which included me….. holding her baby sister, the one we don’t think now we will ever get. And that just rips at my very being. And I did tuck all of our kids in to bed just a few weeks ago and still….. still feel like there was a 4th child I was forgetting to tuck in. I wonder if that feeling will EVER leave me? I have kept the 4th Christmas stocking that we bought for this baby girl, because well….I just can’t bring myself to part with it.
But for now friends, this journey is closed to us. If God re-opens this adoption door at some point, our hearts would be open. Until then, we commit to praise Him in the hallway.
Thank you for letting me share my heart with you. This is like good therapy. Baring my soul. Trying to make sense of it all. For those of you who have walked this journey with us, thank you. I hope someone, somewhere is blessed by our story. God is good, all the time.
Jennifer, I don’t know you well. I think we connected about a year ago and I read your FB posts about 75% of the time (or at least I try). However, your Adoption Blog today, really touched my heart. I read it several times and sometimes with teary eyes as I reflected upon the six decades since my own adoption and further reflected upon the adoption of my own daughter – so I’ve been adopted and have adopted.
There have been highs and lows and a lot of lessons learned along the way. This journey has included providing the education about what I call the “adoption syndrome” which I was able to share with my adopted niece and her parents to help sort through many problems that they lived out for a number of years before mostly finding their way.
Your heart was evident. There are many things I thought and felt as I read your writing. The one thing I can share from my own experience is this . . . you, your husband and your children will become more and more comfortable with this turn of events as time goes by. Even though this did not turn out as you hoped and prayed, eventually the entire family will look at this particular crusade with the kind of binding love that will contribute to the Family Legacy through the years.
We have three biological children as well and our adoption journey took many years, and God didn’t take those desires away for us to adopt. We too are “older”. We too were a part of an agency and we too were rejected over and over again. We knew God had two little girls out there for us. We continued to keep praying for guidance. We were introduced to Faithful Adoption Consultant by a friend who had a “large” family who wanted to adopt and so we just went for it!! Adoption is expensive, but God provides and in big and crazy ways. Our friends matched in less than 4 months and then we matched in less than 4 as well. We were looking at profiles 2 to 3 times a week. Faithful works a lot with larger family as has an amazing success rate. They have been so wonderful and helped bring us our daughter Hope and we are making plans to adopt another daughter within the year as well.
Girl, my heart just burst wide open for you. I think about our conversation at Haven every now and then, and have wondered how the adoption adventure was going. I am going to say a prayer for you right NOW. (God has already encouraged me to tell you that we (all of us!) are here to help!) XO
I listened to a church speaker last night tell of a time he and his son were traveling and got lost in Arizona. They came to a fork on a dusty trail and could either go right or left. They both prayed and both felt they should go right. Within a short time the road ended, clearly the wrong road. They turned around and took the left fork, knew it was the only choice, and quickly returned to known roads. They discussed their prayer. The father realized that had they chosen the left path first, they would have kept wondering if they were on the right road, but since it came second, they knew it was the correct way. Four years. Lots of money. Tremendous amounts of prayer. But now you know you are on the right path. This is hard for sure, but what God wants for us is better than what we want for ourselves. I have been inspired by your journey and I don’t think it’s over yet. It’s just going somewhere you don’t know yet.
I echo Juile.
Mom to 4..two birthed -my heart is so swoll with joy that I am often embarrassed. But I know the ache you have written about.
Jennifer let you light shine bright everyday as you do.
Make a conscious decision to smile, praise, give a knee or and ear to every child who walks near you. You make a difference to a thirsty child/teen. You made a difference to those neighbor girls who you mothered. You can be mother -like to every child who glances at you. Your ache will dull and magic will happen because God is all knowing, always. It may not be the magic you set course to. But you will be full….I know that those who give, I’m talking embarrassing, unself- righteous- giving are full. You are a giver..because I have received from you. Apply your fantastic business practices and get out of your comfort zone in your mothering….I do as often as I can and it feels fantastic.
I relate to this story so well. Many disappointments along the way and almost 5 years later. I remember the day I “gave up” like none other and there was silence from God for 2 full weeks until we got the call on Mia. I remember saying no to foster because I didn’t want to hurt my already children or even my own heart in the process… and my oldest was then 13 I think said- “Mom why would you say no to that- if they are only with us a short time it’s the only chance they get to see the real love of Jesus.” Those words are so true no matter where we are in the process.
I just want to say don’t stop circling your prayer because in your timing it seems to long or too hard. If we had been able to adopt all the children that we were given the opportunity and it was taken away each time… we would have missed out in the amazing opportunity of parenting and loving this feisty little angel we have now!! Rest if you must but don’t give up.
I will serve you while I am waiting… let it be your HOPE!!
I want to thank you for bearing your heart in this post. I also want to encourage you. God calls us to do things that sometimes don’t work out. The fact that you and your family were obedient to his call is EXACTLY what He was looking for. He is in control of the outcome. My husband and I were stateside missionaries for a couple of years and when we came back home felt like failures. I tell you, that is a tactic the enemy uses to try and diminish God’s glory. He has called us to walk with him. He promises that he is with us and will never forsake us. He does not promise that it will be easy or even successful. He just calls us and looks for the ones that say, “here am I, send me.” Be encouraged. Don’t let Satan convince you that your experience was for naught.
I stumbled across you post and am crying reading it bc I could’ve written it! I’ve been told our story is “the story no one wants to hear”. We started trying to foster-to-adopt 2.5 years ago. We knew we were moving in 3 years so they wouldn’t let us.
We then signed with an agency to adopt from Honduras. 11 months of paperwork later, and 1 week away from getting on their wait list, our agency was debarred. We lost everything. We were told we had to start over and choose a new country bc the wait times were double what we were told.
We signed with new international and homestudy agencies, adopting from Samoa. Within 6 months we were on their wait list. 4 months later our homestudy agency decided to stop international adoptions. This meant we would need to update and transfer our homestudy to our 3rd agency in 2 years.
We did the update, but when starting the transfer we became frustrated. It’s been 2.5 years of paperwork and payments. We’ve spent 22k already and when we move in 6 months we will have to transfer (and pay) again. Our country hasn’t had a match in 1.5 years, and after being on the list 13 months we’ve only moved up due to people dropping out. The wait time went from 2-3 to 3-4 years (4-5 to get our child).
Meanwhile, our 2 bio children are getting older and the gap is getting bigger. I’ve felt the calling to adopt since 3rd grade and am heartbroken. We are only able to put the adoption on hold for a couple weeks bc of the transfer. We know, in our hearts, that it’s not going to happen for our family, but it feels like a loss. I would love to hear your feelings since this post!
I just finished reading every one of your blog posts about your adoption journey and have wept and wept. Girl thank you for sharing every single detail you shared. It’s been therapy to my weary soul. This month we enter into our 6th year of trying to expand our family through adoption. The first 4 years was through private identified adoption with an agency. 4 years and 4 different matches that all ended with birth moms changing their minds at birth to parent. We’ve now been fostering to adopt. We’ve had the joy of having 2 precious girls in our home but reunification with parents has happened in each situation. So here we are, almost 6 years in and still no adoption. I literally can relate to every single post you’ve posted but the last two are as if you’re writing for me! We feel so battle weary like we just don’t think our hearts or our kids hearts (2 bio boys) can continue on any longer. But the ache of giving up after almost 6 years of this fight feels too unbearable. Like the worst failure. How do you move forward from something like this???! And then I saw your Instagram post today about your little girl! And I saw the comment Noah left and I was just so so so flooded with hope! If God has done it for you and your precious family, surely, one day, in His way, He can do it for us. Your journey has breathed such peace and hope into what has felt so hopeless. Thank you from the bottom of my heart!!!!
(I was introduced to you through social media from Cathie Homan- was Cilke. She’s Mae Cash on FB and Insta)