Tuesday, October 27th was cloudy and chilly. I rushed out of the door that morning, running a few minutes behind for my babysitting job for the day. Yogurt splatter, baby giggles, and a game of Peek-a-boo lifted my spirits. A warm blanket invited me to curl up on the couch during nap time and spend time in the Word. The morning felt like any other morning with my sweet little friend.
But it wasn’t.
At 10:50 AM, I received a phone call. Even though it was a local number, having been fooled before, I assumed it was a telemarketer, and I ignored the call. A voice mail notification vibrated my phone. Still thinking it was a telemarketer, I clicked “play” and waited for an automated recording. Only, I didn’t hear an automated recording. I heard a warm, sweet, Southern voice telling me, “I have news! You’re going to want to call me back!”
That may have been the fastest I have EVER returned a phone call! Our adoption counselor answered right away and said she needed to conference in the lawyer and would call me right back. After hanging up, I sent Joseph a calm, lady like text.
It was one of my finest moments.
The actual call with our lawyer and our adoption counselor is a bit of a blur now. I think I heard about half of what they told me. Things went down like this:
“something, something, something … An expectant mother chose you!”
“something, something, something … She really liked your book!”
“something, something, something … medical history.”
“something, something, something … Let’s schedule a detailed call for tomorrow.”
“OK! Thank you!”
There were so many words, and all I remember saying was “thank you” and “OK” … a lot.
Shaking, I called Joseph, who had been trying to reach me. “Babe, that was it. We just got the call. We’re going to have a baby.” Then I cried and tried to recall all the “something, something, something” words. I pretty much just remembered the due date and the fact that she liked our book.
And that she chose us.
That was one of the most sacred moments of my life – and not because “holy crap” was in all caps when I texted Joseph.
Not since God chose me to be one of His own adopted ones (see Ephesians 1:3-5) or since Joseph chose me to be his bride has a choice delighted my soul and ignited my spirit more.
The next day, we had a conference call with our adoption counselor and our lawyer. We went over the details of the adoption and gave our “YES!” We also made plans to meet our expectant mother. I’m crying just typing that. I can’t begin to express the feelings I have when I think about meeting her. They’re a jumble, and they’re woven together with a joy so pure that I know it’s a gift straight from the Father. I hope she lets me hug her, because I really want to give her a big hug. I don’t know what comes after that! (Probably tears.)
We’ll know a few more details after Tuesday, such as the delivery plan. We want to respect our sweet expectant mother during that time. Please lift her up and pray for strength and affirmation that she’s making the right decision. Pray she makes the best choice for her baby, even if that means our arms are empty a little longer.
We’ve had so much fun telling our family and friends. They’re as excited as we are, which gives me all sorts of warm fuzzies. We used this video to share on social media:
The next few weeks are sure to be a flurry of excitement and projects. The last few days have already been a frenzy of rearranging furniture in the house, registering, and preparing for baby.
Would you please join us in prayer? Pray for our hearts during this last bit of waiting. Pray for opportunities to share the love of Christ with those we meet along the way. Pray as we meet our expectant mother. Pray and ask God to provide the final $15,000 we need. Ask Him if He wants you to be a part of that. You can give at our YouCaring site.
I want to leave you with one of the sweetest parts of this story so far for me. Joseph asked our adoption counselor when our expectant mother chose us. It turns out she chose us in early September. My heart has been aching during this wait. I have cried out to God so many times, begging Him to give us the good gift of a child. During those weakest moments, I imagine God was smiling and saying, “Hang tight, little one. I’ve got a really good gift for you!”
Years ago, I spent a weekend with a whole lot of people in a 3 bedroom house. It wasn’t terrible, but it was tight. There were two bathrooms and an average size water heater. For obvious reasons, we were encouraged to keep showers brief.
When it was my turn, I closed and locked the bathroom door. Then I checked it at least ten times, because I am terribly afraid of someone walking in on me in the bathroom. Terribly afraid. I walked over to the shower, and I panicked a little. It had one of those round knobs that controls the hot and cold in one place, and it also turned the water on. You know the ones I mean. The ones that take a special college degree to control properly. I was a mere college freshman at the time, so I was baffled. (Truth: I have 30 hours toward a master’s degree, and I still ask my husband to turn the water on for me if a shower has one of these knobs.)
I probably jumped for joy a little when water started gushing out of the shower head. I was proud! Within seconds, though, I realized I had a problem. The water was VERY hot. Almost scalding hot, at least in my estimation. (I HATE hot showers, so it may not have been that bad.) I turned the shower knob every direction possible, and scalding hot water was the only result. At the tender age of eighteen, I was too embarrassed to ask for help. “Um, could someone help me, please? I don’t know how to work the shower.” Yeah, that wasn’t going to happen. I braved the lava masked as water erupting from the 1960s shower head. I almost cried as I tried to wash my hair and my body without any water touching me. I winced, and I leaned, and I dodged. Finally, it was over. I turned off the water and emerged from the shower, bright red and victorious. The lava shower did not defeat me.
After my adventure in the shower, I walked into the family room. Someone asked, “How was your shower?” I chuckled and said, “That was the hottest shower I’ve EVER taken!” Before I could continue my story, explaining WHY it was the hottest shower I had ever taken, I was interrupted. “That was inconsiderate of you,” he quipped, disappointment all over his face.
I froze. I stammered. I shrugged. I didn’t tell my story. I felt defeated.
I am by no means a perfect person, and I know I wasn’t perfect 16 years ago, but I strive to be considerate of others. I thought this person knew me. If he did, he wouldn’t have doubted me in that moment, would he? Surely, he would have known there was a reason for my action. He would have thought the best of me, right?
It was a quick exchange. A blip in my life, really. But those words have haunted me for years. They’re in my sticky brain, as my sweet friend Tara calls it. This moment in my life came to mind as I was reflecting on God’s character this week.
You see, I’ve been struggling and doubting Him lately. A lot. My trust has wavered. It’s like I’ve forgotten who He is.
A lyric from one of J.J. Heller’s songs has been in my head for days. It’s there when my eyes pop open in the mornings. It’s there when I’m riding in the car. It’s in the shower. In our den as I watch way too many tear-inducing episodes of Parenthood. It’s still there when I crawl into bed at night.
“I don’t know what You’re doing, but I know who You are.”
Over and over and over again. One line. One powerful line that stirred my heart toward repentance.
“Lord, I don’t know what You’re doing, but I know who You are. I’m sorry for doubting You.”
As I was reading Adopted for Life by Russell Moore, the issue came up again, and that one lyric was the background track as I read. Dr. Moore shared about a moment when he questioned God’s justice upon hearing of the pregnancy of an immoral woman while his sweet, godly wife was crying over another miscarriage. “I think that moment was perhaps the worst sin I’ve ever committed. I knew far better, but I was calling into question the goodness of my God to me” (page 103).
I thought of that moment when I felt my character was being called into question. When someone doubted me. Me, a person who sins daily and still has a long way to go in the sanctification process. Me, someone who wants to be considerate of others but does, in fact, fail from time to time. That moment of someone doubting me hurt deeply.
So how much more does it likely hurt my perfectly good, perfectly loving, perfectly just, sovereign, righteous, holy God when I doubt His character? I give people reasons to doubt me all the time. God? He has never given me a reason to doubt Him. He always provides. He always guides. He always comes through.
Yet, when life presses in and my circumstances don’t align with my desires, I doubt. Fiercely.
I don’t want to doubt fiercely. I want to BELIEVE fiercely. TRUST fiercely. LOVE fiercely. SERVE fiercely. PURSUE fiercely.
I don’t want our adoption journey to be defined by my doubt in God. What a waste! I want our journey to be categorized by faith in the God who provides. I want to look back at a season (no matter how long!) when God stretched us and strengthened our faith and drew us into deeper relationships with Him.
And you know what? He will stretch us and strengthen our faith and draw us into a deeper relationship with Him. That’s what He’s doing. That’s who He is.
Baby or no baby, I have no reason to doubt Him. I know who He is.
Moment by moment, day by day, as we wait I will be reminding myself of God’s character. When doubt creeps in, I will take those thoughts captive and counter them with truth. Will you help me with that? When doubt is trying to reign in my heart, will you speak truth into my life? I know I can’t walk this journey alone.
I will extol you, my God and King,
and bless your name forever and ever.
Every day I will bless you
and praise your name forever and ever.
Great is the Lord, and greatly to be praised,
and his greatness is unsearchable. …
The Lord is gracious and merciful,
slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.
The Lord is good to all,
and his mercy is over all that he has made. …
The Lord upholds all who are falling
and raises up all who are bowed down. …
The Lord is righteous in all his ways
and kind in all his works.
The Lord is near to all who call on him,
to all who call on him in truth.
He fulfills the desire of those who fear him;
he also hears their cry and saves them.
The lord preserves all who love him,
but all the wicked he will destroy.
My mouth will speak the praise of the Lord,
and let all flesh bless his holy name forever and ever.
Psalm 145: 1-3, 8-9, 14, 17-21
I don’t know what You’re doing, but I know who You are.
“It costs HOW MUCH to adopt?! That’s crazy! It seems to me if there are SO many children who need homes, it shouldn’t cost SO much to adopt. If it cost less to adopt, I bet more children would be adopted.”
That’s my paraphrase of something we hear pretty regularly. People are astounded by how much our adoption is projected to cost (in the neighborhood of $30,000).
The purpose of this post isn’t to give you a dollar breakdown of the cost of adoption. That varies a bit for every adoption. My goal is to shed a little light on some of the reasons private adoption is expensive. I am by no means an expert. I’m just a woman with a cost breakdown from our lawyer and a little bit of knowledge from conversations I’ve had with people over the last 10 months.
Before I continue, I want to talk about adopting out of foster care a little bit. According to Adopt US Kids, there are over 100,000 children legally free to be adopted RIGHT NOW. That’s a staggering number. Would you like another staggering number? $0. If you can find a lawyer to finalize your adoption for the stipend SC offers, your adoption is pretty much free (or at least really inexpensive). (I can’t speak for other states, but I bet they have something similar.) If it costs you more than $0, you can write it all off on your taxes and get the money back. So, if money is your only excuse for not adopting, I just removed that for you. Start filling out the paperwork.
We desire to adopt out of foster care at some point. For this adoption, God had different plans. Expensive plans that we’re entrusting to Him. Expensive plans that He has been providing for faithfully over the last 10 months.
So, what does that $30,000 cover? Again, I’m no expert. Every agency or lawyer will be a little different. This is just the breakdown of categories we were given.
Adoption Counselor Fee – This covers the expenses for a social worker to work directly with the birth mother/parents. In our case, a social worker will be the person who makes sure our birth mother makes it to appointments, has groceries, is living in a safe environment, etc. She is the one who will be gathering as much family history as she possibly can. She is the one who gets late night phone calls and talks with our birth mom when she needs a listening ear. While I’m grateful for our lawyer, the adoption counselor is our MVP (well, next to the birth mom, of course!), and I’m thankful for the countless hours she devotes to her clients.
Attorney Fees – If you work directly with a lawyer, these fees are higher because the lawyer is handling the adoption from beginning to end. If you work with an agency or a consultant (meaning you’ll work with an agency or lawyer eventually), there will still be attorney fees for finalizing the adoption.
Marketing Expenses – This one may seem strange at first, but it’s important. When a birth mother is in the process of making a plan for her child, she may have no idea where to turn. She may ask her doctor, who has brochures in his waiting room, or she may do an Internet search and find an agency’s website or a couple’s adoption profile. A Facebook ad may be in her newsfeed, or a billboard may catch her eye as she’s driving down the road. Maybe marketing sounds a bit tacky to discuss, but a birth mother needs to know she has options. She needs to know someone will help her connect with a family who will love and care for her child.
Expectant/Birth Mother Expenses – This is a broad category that can cover a lot of different things, from a place to live to groceries to utilities. Depending on the situation, it could also include the expectant mother’s medical expenses. This money is in no way paying her for a baby. Please know that! This money is the right thing to do. Also, this category can fluctuate quite a bit based on when in her pregnancy an expectant mother connects with an agency or lawyer and what her personal circumstances are. A woman who contacts a lawyer in the eighth month of her pregnancy and lives with her parents will have lower expenses than a woman who contacts an agency during the third month of her pregnancy and needs an apartment in a safe place away from her abusive boyfriend. There are a lot of factors that come into play in this category.
Home Study – The home study is the key piece of your adoption application. Someone will come to your home and interview you and your family. Sometimes, this is one meeting. Others, there may be one joint meeting and then individual meetings with each family member. The person conducting the home study is assessing if your home is a safe and warm and great place for children to live. He/she is also getting to know you as well as possible. Our home study experience was such a good one! Seriously, one of my favorite parts of this process.
Everything Else – Guys, there are so many little things included in an adoption. If you’re seriously considering adoption, make an appointment with a consultant, a lawyer, or an agency. They’ll give you breakdowns of their fees.
So, that’s a high level look at why private adoption can be expensive. I had no idea what was included when my eyes got really big and I thought, “Why is private adoption SO expensive?!” Learning these things was helpful for me, and $30,000 doesn’t sound so crazy anymore.
Now, let’s circle back around to adopting out of foster care. It IS expensive, but those costs are not passed on to the adoptive family. There are costs for caring for children in foster care. There are medical expenses. Case workers have to be paid. Legal fees are involved. Foster care is funded by the government, so someone is paying for adoption through foster care.
Fellow believers, we’re called to care for orphans. There is no way around that in Scripture. I’ll be putting together a post in the future that will give you LOTS of ideas to care for orphans. For now, take some time to noodle over how you can help children in foster care or how you could help a family with the expense of a private adoption.
If you’re considering adoption, I’d love to talk to you about our experiences thus far! I know we’re still waiting, but maybe we could at least help you get started! Also, do your research. There are many options available for families considering adoption, and not every option will be a good fit for you. A full service agency may be right for your family right now, or maybe you have the time and know-how to self-market, meaning a smaller consulting firm could be a good fit. Explore your options, and commit this journey to prayer. Dive in, and enjoy watching God’s story unfold!
Sunday in worship, we sang one of my new favorite songs, Even So Come (I’ll embed it at the end of the post). As we sang of longing for Christ’s return, I was reminded that our waiting and longing in the adoption process point to our deeper longing for Christ’s return.
(There were paragraphs here that felt forced. I tried for two days to write this post that had been swirling around in my head. Nothing was right. So, I started typing my prayer. It’s raw. It isn’t pretty. But I’m sharing it with you.)
Lord, what do You want me to write in this post? You brought the thought to mind. You reminded me that my longing for a child points to my longing for Your return. Maybe this post is difficult to write because, most days, I don’t think much about Your return. Most days, I go about my day as though I’m not adopted, as though You didn’t give Your life for me, as though You didn’t purchase me at a great price. So, maybe this wait for a child has a deeper purpose than making me a mother. Maybe this wait is more about reminding me I am a child – Your child. I am adopted – by You. I’m waiting for a baby, but I’m also waiting for You. So, how do I wait for our baby? Well, some days better than others. Some days, I’m filled with joy and excitement. I can’t wait to be a mommy! I can picture our little brown baby sitting in her crib, throwing her head back in laughter, reaching her pudgy hands up for me. I can imagine bath time and story time and dinner time. I look forward to her falling asleep on my chest, lulled by the rhythm of my heart and the quiet hum of my current favorite worship song. Other days, I feel sad. I see the brokenness of this world. I know that we’re becoming parents out of someone else’s pain. I feel the emptiness of our arms, hear the silence of our nursery. Still others, I lean more toward being angry. Lord, I hate to admit my anger. I’m embarrassed by it. But You know my heart. I can’t conceal it from You. I’m angry. You hurt my feelings. You put a longing in my heart years ago to be a mother, specifically to become a mother through adoption. You confirmed that it was time for us to adopt. Things moved quickly in the beginning. Money was coming in quickly. You affirmed over and over that we were doing the right thing. Then things slowed down. We had to change paths. The silence is deafening. We’re waiting. I know You have a plan. I know it’s the best plan. I know You’ve already written this story. I know it’s part of YOUR story. I know all the right things to say. I know how to put a smile on my face, give all the right answers, and act like I’m OK with all of this. But, God, on the worst days, I’m not OK with all of this. I want You to do something different. I want You to make me a mom NOW. If only I felt so strongly about Your return, huh? Maybe not even that. Maybe if I noticed how much other people are hurting and not just my own hurt. Maybe if I stopped and took notice of the broken people around me. Maybe if I cried out for justice and begged You to return and make all things right again. Maybe my pain, this wait, is reminding me why You had to come in the first place. Reminding me that people need You. Reminding me why You haven’t returned: “The Lord is not slow to fulfill His promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance” (2 Peter 3:9). You haven’t returned yet, because You haven’t finished adopting yet. I trust You. I believe You. I believe You will return. Deepen my longing for Your return. I want to long for Your return more than I long to be a mother, and that’s a lot. Take all of these feelings that this wait has stirred up inside of me and transform them into pure worship of You. Remind me of Your truth. I want more than being able to say all of the right things. I want to believe Your truth deep down in the marrow of my bones. That is going to happen through the trial of waiting. Waiting for our baby and waiting for Your return. So, God, will You help me wait well? I think I’ve done a kind of crummy job so far, and that makes me ever so grateful that You see Jesus when You look at me! Help me wait better. Help me get to know You better through this process. Refine me through this process. Make me more like Jesus. Even so, come.
Thursday, our day started with a we’re-thankful-because-it-could-have-been-worse moment. You know what I mean? The kind of moment when you feel frustrated, but you have to stop and remind yourself to be thankful, because it could have been worse.
Huxtable, our cat, must have heard something outside in the middle of the night that got him in a tizzy. Nothing new there. This time, however, presumably in his attempt to look out of the kitchen window, he turned the faucet on full blast. When Joseph entered the kitchen to make my lunch (so sweet!), he discovered a wet floor. Yikes. Thankfully, it wasn’t awful. There wasn’t so much water that it ruined the flooring. It was just an inconvenience, but it started the day out a little wonky.
Our day came to a close with the contents of Huxtable’s litter box spilling onto our bedroom carpet. Joseph lugged the shop vac in and cleaned up the mess so I could get to the bed without tracking little pieces of litter onto the sheets. As Joseph served selflessly and without complaining, I smiled and thought about what a good daddy he’s going to be.
As we settled in for a little pillow talk before drifting off to sleep, we started talking about the events of the day. The wet floor and the kitty litter sandwiched a borderline terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day for Joseph. He kept telling me things that happened, and I busted out laughing each time. “I forgot about that!” I exclaimed with each story. Over and over. He was understandably less amused than I was, but I couldn’t stop laughing.
With all of that laughing about our day (sorry, Joseph!), I think my attitude shifted a bit. God was opening my eyes to His goodness and softening my heart about our current circumstances.
I felt the shift a little more yesterday morning. I was gathering the money we needed to deposit into our adoption fund. Shocked, I told Joseph, “We have $475 to deposit!” Over the last two weeks, God had provided through a few different means, and that added up to a chunk of the money we still needed to raise. I had to praise Him! I’ve been discouraged lately, and He’s still been faithful.
A good reminder: His faithfulness doesn’t depend on me!
I felt joy bubbling back up a little.
We had a good photo shoot. We danced in the car. We ate yummy leftovers. We went for a frozen yogurt date. We watched a few episodes of Fixer Upper. We went on a late night run to fill the car with pallets. (Haha! That sounded like we ran. We did not.)
WE LAUGHED! A LOT!
I still have a LONG way to go, but my attitude is shifting, and I’m thankful. I’ve missed feeling joyful on a regular basis. I long to feel joy in the midst of waiting for our child. I want to look back on this season with fondness, not embarrassment.
God is faithful, and He is at work. This wait is part of that work, and I’m going to enjoy it!