June 11, 2016

Will You Adopt Her?

Will you adopt her?  It was a question that they had never considered.  A question they never saw coming.  A question that shocked them to the core, challenging everything they believed!

After months, maybe even years, of prayer and discussion and research, they finally made the monumental, life-changing decision to open their home to foster children.  They just knew that God had called them to provide temporary safety and shelter to a child in need. Their hearts were full of love and compassion for the children they had not yet met– children they knew the Lord would soon bring into their lives. 

They expected difficulties, of course.  When children’s typical development is interrupted by abuse or neglect or trauma, when their world has been utterly shaken by being removed from the only parent they have ever known, of course there will be challenges to overcome.  Of course it will be an enormous adjustment for everyone involved.

And they went into it, fully expecting to get their hearts broken.  They suspected that once they had fallen in love with a dear child for whom they had cared and provided and nurtured, it would feel like torture to watch that child leave, knowing that they would most likely never see him or her again in this lifetime.

But this?  This, they hadn’t expected.  No class or book or mentor had prepared them for this scenario.  The past few months with this child hadn’t been merely difficult . . . they had been impossible!   The complicated diagnoses, newly discovered only after she was safely placed in their care, require hours upon hours of medical intervention.  There are frequent urgent trips to the emergency room for her critical condition.  Huge chunks of time that interrupt their plans, take the foster mother away from the rest of the family, and cause the dad to miss work.

Sure, they love her and are committed to providing her with the very best care while she lives in their home.  But always in the back of their minds is the reassurance that this is only temporary.  They are like expert sprinters, pushing hard towards the finish line, desiring above all else to end well.  We can do this for a few more months.  We can persevere until she leaves.  We can remain faithful in the short-term.  Secretly, though, they are looking forward to the day, knowing that it will eventually arrive, when this child will be reunited with her family.  The day that their own family can return to some semblance of normalcy.

It comes as a complete shock, then, when the biological family members who had been so insistent that they can care for this child, who had been so interested and proactive in fighting for her, sit across the table from these trust-worthy foster parents, look them directly in the eyes and ask, Will you adopt her?

What can they say?  If they thought the decision to become foster parents was huge, that was nothing compared to this!  Are they really prepared for this sprint to become a marathon?  This dilemma, they think, needs words.

Saying yes is absolutely out of the question.  Her needs are too severe and consuming.  Every professional that meets her, every educator, social worker, therapist, says, Oh wow - she has problems!  Already it has been an insurmountable challenge to get her the evaluations and interventions that she needs.  How can this foster mother, in good conscience, commit to the long-term devotion of her time and energy and resources to this one child at the expense of her other children?  And what happens when they are too old to take care of her?  Can they really expect their children to assume responsibility for the life-long care that this child is sure to need?  Saying yes would mean total surrender.  It would mean trusting God completely.

On the other hand, however, how can they possibly say no?  They tremble when they think of the statistics.  If they do not adopt her, who will?  If they say no, what will become of her?  This is how kids get shuffled around in the system for years, or end up with a family member who really isn’t capable of taking care of them, but because of their impossibly long list of needs, there’s just no one else who will take them.  Saying no would mean total surrender.  It would mean trusting God completely.

Look at her!  This is the child that the Lord brought to them.  To them! Perhaps, like Esther, “who knows whether they have not attained [this position] for such a time as this?”  (Esther 4:14)  Perhaps this is their moment!

Up until now, they claim, with complete conviction, that every human life has value, that each child has been beautifully created, and everyone deserves to belong in a family.   They embrace the truth that God has called His people to care for orphans.  Well, now is the time to put those statements to the test.  Now is the time to prove that they really believe it.  To demonstrate with their actions, not just their words, that this child is worth cherishing and protecting and loving.

Of course this is not a decision that they can make out of guilt or obligation.  When God adopted us as His children, He did so “in accordance with His pleasure and will.”  (Ephesians 1:5)  It was His pleasure to adopt us, and it must be the same for us – we choose to adopt, not as a burden or sense of duty, but because it is the desire of our heart.

It also cannot be a decision made purely out of emotion.  When this angelic child is sound asleep, he blond curls spread on her pillow, her face free of the pain she frequently endures, it is easy to feel compassion and tenderness for her.  To feel, in those quiet moments, that a permanent commitment to her is entirely possible.  She is beautiful and utterly precious!

But when everyone is rushing out the door to the endless specialists’ visits and one shoe is missing and the youngest one is having a tantrum because she doesn’t have her sippy cup right this second and the stress level is high because if they arrive late for the appointment they won’t be seen that day . . . in that moment it is easy to say, We would be insane to even consider doing this for the rest of our lives!  When the foster mom misses her daughter’s recital because she spent the previous night in the hospital with this child with the incessant needs, that is the moment these exhausted foster parents say emphatically, No way!

In the story of Esther, she faced an impossible decision of her own.  A choice of yes or no.  Her cousin told her, “If you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance will arise . . . from another place.”  (Esther 4:14) What if that isn’t a threat, but a promise?  A beautiful, inspiring promise that God’s plans and purposes will in no way be thwarted if we say no?  God is the One who promises to “set the lonely in families,” (Psalm 68:6) and He is faithful and completely able to do just that . . . with or without us.

In this infamous story, Esther chose yes.  She, along with her people, fasted and prayed, and then she determined to do the dangerous and terrifying.  And she surrendered her life to the consequences of that decision.  “If I perish, I perish.”  (Esther 4:16)

So how on earth do these loving, faithful foster parents make this unthinkable decision?  A decision they never envisioned themselves making?

Here’s how:  they can know, with absolutely confidence, that there are no wrong answers.  Whatever they decide will be right.

If they say yes, God will not love them more than He already does.
If they say no, God will not love them less than He already does.

If they say yes, God will provide for them. 
If they say no, God will provide for this child without them.

Either way, God’s love will not change.  Either way, He will provide.  Either way, He will use their decision to accomplish His perfect plan.

Dear friends, we we will fast and pray with you as you seek the Lord’s will in this difficult choice.  If you say yes, we will surround you with love and support and encouragement and help.  And if you say no, we will surround you with compassion and understanding and grace.  With the utmost respect.  Either way, know that you are accepted and loved. 

We anxiously await your decision.

Will you adopt her?

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