November is National Adoption Month. God tells us we are to care for orphans. He set an amazing example: He adopted us. Certainly not everyone is called to adopt, but probably most of us should ask the question.
In honor of National Adoption Month, I am telling our story of adoption—in weekly installments through November. This is Chapter 2. You can read Chapter 1: “I Am Sending You a Son” here.
“Do you know someone who could take an 8-year-old boy?”
These words changed my life.
My friend Carol was asking on behalf of her best friends, whose grandson had just been taken from his mother because of neglect.
This boy had spent most of his eight years with his mom on the streets or in their little trailer, surrounded by alcohol, drugs, prostitution, neglect, abuse, danger. The only consistency in his life had been his grandparents, but they didn’t see how they could keep him as they were already raising his six-years-older half-sister.
So Social Services was looking for a foster home. Carol and the grandparents wanted it to be a safe, Christian home. Would that be our home?
We prayed and we said yes, we would enter the process to be foster parents to this boy. Only Social Services wanted us to be available to other children as well. We said we would take only this boy. They turned us down. We left it in God’s hands.
The grandparents pressed SS to place him with us, their foster home of choice. So SS relented, and we began the challenging process to become foster parents. We made it through all the approvals, but our travel schedules interfered with the required 10-week-training.
It was almost a year after we first heard about him before we were approved and nine-year-old Josh came to live with us, the first step in our road to adoption.
Foster care surprises
I’m not sure who experienced the greatest shock.
For Josh: Regular bedtime. Restrictions on TV content. School every day. Church every week. Regular, real meals at a table. Discipline.
For us: Noise and chaos. Mess. Center of attention need. Barely able to read and write. Hoarding. Fetal alcohol syndrome residuals: ADD, LD, lack of cause and effect reasoning.
We made great efforts, though certainly not perfectly, to love and care for Josh and integrate him into our family: Sports, new friends, birthday parties, family activities, vacation with extended family, spiritual input, tutoring, appropriate limits.
But nothing overcame his belief that we didn’t really love him. He was sure we would eventually reject him, and he gave us plenty of reason to do just that. He did not attach to us, and we developed only minimal emotional attachment to him.
Were we ready to adopt?
So after three years, when they terminated his mother’s rights and placed him for adoption, we had a decision to make: Would we adopt Josh?
He didn’t seem to care. He didn’t see a better option, so he was willing.
But were we?
Emotionally it was a challenge for all of us.
I was pretty sure God didn’t send us a son for just three years, so I was ready to make him a permanent part of our family. And God gave me three affirmations:
- I told you I was sending you a son. Why would you reject my gift?
- I have plans for Josh, and Jeremiah 29:11 is a promise.
- I have things to teach all of you, and Josh will be my instrument.
But the others needed to agree.
Michelle, at 12, was loving and insightful: I don’t want to ruin the rest of his life by rejecting him.
Debbie, a typically self-focused 14-year-old, said: We just need to suffer gladly. God sent him to us, so he must have things to teach us.
My husband, with growing ministry responsibilities, was concerned about the time and emotional energy Josh required, but he too said, Yes, we will accept this gift from God.
So we did it. We said yes. Josh said yes. We went before a judge and said we wanted to make him a permanent part of our family.
We adopted 12-year-old Josh.
We had no idea what was ahead.
Next week: The Hard Years.
c 2011 Judy Douglass
What about you? Do you have an adoption story to share?