I'd like to share a story with you. Where it began and then the rest....
It ends with opening our home to adopt again.
Now, I could stop there because either you wouldn't ask the obvious questions, or because we don't owe anyone the 'why's' of our personal family decisions. But, I've struggled with the 'why' myself, and think I've stumbled upon the answer God has weaved into my life. Since that whole 'open book' thing is how we roll, I've decided to write a blog about it and tell the wide world of web, instead of just our families and the few closest to us who might ask.
It started back in 1976, when I was born to my Mom and a father who was uninterested. Luckily for me, my Mom was beyond the moon over me and considered me greatly over the next years in everything she did, but especially as she would date and plan for our future. When I was three years old, she met a man, Gary, who had two daughters close to my age. They struck a friendship and began dating, they married when I was six, and a year later had a daughter together. This man, Gary, became my Dad the day they married, but made it official by adoption when I was eight.
He was every bit my Dad from the word go. No distinctions, no preferences, no comparisons between me and the three daughters he had fathered. If he ever felt anything different in his heart, I never knew it and I grew secure in his love of me. I loved being his daughter. But....
I also grew in the knowledge that there was a dad out there who didn't want me. I would go years forgetting that I was adopted, then spend months wallowing in the fact that surely, if he knew me, he'd want to know me. Maybe that was just my emotional, dramatic girl self, maybe it was hormones, maybe it's just the nature of the beast of being an adopted child. Where ever it came from, I had periods of my childhood where I would drill my Mom for answers, only to be told she would tell me when I was older. That was fine with me, and besides, my Dad was just in the other room ready to shoot hoops if I asked, talk politics or sports, or help with my math homework, heaven help us all!
"Older" finally came when I was about seventeen. I remember sitting on the porch with my Mom, angry with her, and yelling that she had promised me for years to tell me when I was ready, and by golly, I was ready. Besides, it's not like I wanted anything from him, or needed a dad...I just wanted to know who this man was. Who was I like. Did he know about me, or miss me?
So she told me. He didn't want a kid. He didn't want me. Period. He wanted her to terminate the pregnancy. He wasn't pining for the daughter he never knew, he wasn't looking for me, or longing for a relationship. Most likely, he never looked back after she released him of his responsibility, refusing to abort me.
Maybe I wasn't ready. Maybe you're never really old enough to hear that. I remember, not being one to let go of my angry emotions very quickly, looking at my Mom crying on the steps, both angry with her and hating that I had pushed her to tell me something she knew would hurt me, something she had pushed away for years, not wanting to hurt her little girl. How thankful I was for her in that moment, to have loved me enough through all of that. My anger softened as I saw this whole new side to my mom.
But there it was. And now I had to deal with it. I spent the next couple years trying to find him. This was pre-internet days, so that consisted of finding all local listings with his same last name and mailing a hand written letter stating my intentions. I never heard back. My Dad, learning of my actions, told me he understood why I was looking and would do anything he could to help. I appreciated his understanding, but felt terrible he knew. I didn't ever, not even in the quiet recesses, feel like I needed to find my 'dad'. I had a Dad, the best Dad. I just wanted to know who he was. Then, one day, it was gone. The desire completely left me. I had began attending church with a friend and discovered who God was and that I was loved by Him, and that He had given me the gift of my Dad. The Bible says God knows all of our days before one of them came to be (Ps 139:16), which means He knew this man, Gary, would be my Dad. And that he would be a great dad. That was enough for me. I've never wondered again.
Fast forward to the eight years of infertility, our decision to adopt, God bringing our boys, the eventual pregnancy with a son, and then God bringing our daughter. About a year and a half ago, with Gram's health declining, stresses in our life, and a failed placement, we chose to close our home. The idea of any more kids was just more than we could take at that time.
Since then, we have both had this nagging tug on our hearts that we are supposed to reopen our home. If you've seen Max Lucado's, Hermie, that's what I kept hearing in my heart, "God's not finished with you yet." So, here we are, after a year of deliberating 'yes or no', 'can we or can't we', 'are we nuts or is this the call on our lives'? It took six months after requesting the paper work, but we've finally decided to do it. We are open and waiting on God. If he intends there to be more, there will be more. If He doesn't, there won't be, but in the mean time I know He desires our obedience.
But in that obedience, there's also our kids, our families and those around us who will wonder, what the what!?, if we arrive with extra kids in tow. At some point, you have to tell.
First, to tell the kids. Our oldest, Timothy, who is nine, walked in our room one day while we were looking at a picture of a sibling set we are inquiring about and asked, "Who are those kids?" So we told him, they are foster kids, in need of a family and a home. His response has echoed in my ears since he spoke the words, "Let them come here! We have fun and lots of room. They can be our brothers and sisters." The others, after a slight hesitation, have come around to asking every day if this is the day more kids are coming.
Oh, to have the faith of a child. Timothy's answer is the obvious one I think we, and so many others, miss. We have room. We have love. We have food and safety and family. What else is there? Well, when you're the parents to four young kids, there's the cost of the food, the expense of the clothes, the logistics of appointments and school and bedrooms and life, there's vacations and college and noise....my goodness....lots and lots of noise! So we let all those other things creep in and scare us. People will think we're nuts, we are too old, too busy, too everything already! How could we possibly be more?!
These are the questions I haven't quit asking myself, and God, since we decided to act on the nagging tug to reopen. I was driving to a ladies craft event at church last Saturday when the answer hit me, through a song, of course. There is a line in The Gospel, by Ryan Stevenson, that says, To the captive it looks like freedom. To the orphan it feels like home. To the skeptic it might sound crazy, to believe in a God who loves.
To the orphan it feels like home. I stopped the car and pulled over to write it down. I've heard the song a thousand times, but for some reason, at that moment, that line hit me like a ton of bricks! In my own childhood...I wasn't old enough when it happened, but as I became aware, the idea that I was unwanted by my birth father became very real. In the same moment that I discovered I was unwanted by one, I knew what unconditional love meant in the other. My Dad gave me his name and a home. I knew it as a kid, but it has taken me to now to fully understand it completely and see how God shaped my entire life because of it. I don't want any child to live thinking they are unwanted, having no where to call home.
I also know we "can't save them all", as people oddly enough like to point out to us, but we can "feel like home" to the ones God brings to us.
So, there's the story behind my 'why'. Don't judge our circus! We are right where God wants us to be, full house and open doors! We may adopt again, we may not. Only God knows, but our willing hearts are ready and waiting.