6. Part of the Whole

A common question we, as adoptive parents, seem to hear often is, “Why did you choose this type of adoption?” The question obviously varies depending on whether you pursued international, local, or foster, but for us, the question was aimed specifically at our decision to adopt internationally. And just like any adoption-related question, there is no simple answer. It would take hours to wrap our minds around this seemingly simple yet complex answer because our stories didn’t start the day we called our agencies—they started much, much earlier and include a plethora of experiences which eventually enabled us each to decide between foster, local, or international adoption.

My adoption story started in my first several years of life. My parents were foster parents of a sort. They ran a group home for young teenagers who needed to be placed in remedial care due to extreme family issues, neglect, or a history of escalating misdemeanors. Our home was the proverbial fork in the road which would determine whether the kids would need to be permanently placed in the foster system, sent to a juvenile detention center, or integrated back into their families. As an outsider, this must sound like a strange childhood, but I can assure you my family was always safe, and I easily grew to love most of the foster siblings who came to live in our home.

It is for this reason that I am an avid supporter of foster adoption and encourage those who feel called to it to pursue it wholeheartedly. That said, if there is anything I learned during this stage of my life, it is the fact that not everyone is called to adopt from foster care. My parents were incredibly skilled at it. My dad is the kind of man who you can always trust to respect you, regardless of whether you respect him back. He is in no way a pushover, but he is a shining example of the golden rule—treat others the way you would like to be treated, regardless of how they treat you. It takes a lot of confidence and inner strength to be so consistently selfless. My mom is also a very strong woman and skillfully exhibits what I call “tough love.” While she will play, laugh, joke, and spoil those she loves, she has also mastered the ability to discipline consistently without anger, and to always ensure that she labels the behavior, not the individual. While I many have lied to her as a child, she never called me a liar. Although I might have stolen a cookie from the jar once or twice, I was never a thief. Her ability to see through behaviors into the heart of those she loves is something that made her an incredible foster parent. My parents are kind but firm. They hold high expectations and do not shy away from confronting behaviors that are not healthy. In every way, they were designed to love those kids, and I enjoy reflecting back on how they poured into the lives of those who came to be a part of our family, at least for a short time.

There is a verse I like to reflect on when I find myself torn between something I love and something I’m called to. 1 Corinthians 12:27 says, “All of you together are Christ’s body, and each of you is a part of it.” The rest of the chapter goes on to explain that we are each given a specific set of skills, insights, and experiences which makes us uniquely designed to fulfill some part of the great commission, much like the individual parts of a human body work together for the good of the whole. We are specialized, and part of our role as being good stewards of our bodies and our lives is knowing what our specialty is and utilizing it for God’s eternal purpose. This also includes knowing what skills and abilities we don’t have and admitting that there are paths we are not designed to explore. While I do not share the same skill set which enabled my parents to be successful foster parents, I have skills which led me to see international adoption as a good use of the gifts God has given me. I love building bridges across cultures, something I learned during my time as a missionary in Haiti. I enjoy finding and building connections between people who seem to have nothing in common. I am extremely patient. I don’t mind traveling across the world to see where my child came from. I enjoy researching the lifestyles of other peoples. I am neurotically organized, which helps me navigate around the red tape both here and abroad. I am globally minded. I don’t mind bringing home a toddler instead of a baby. These are not skills or abilities I have had to work hard to attain, they are the natural giftings God has given me. You were given a unique skill set too. You are able to do things naturally that I would have to work very hard to replicate. Your unique experiences have led you to perhaps a different form of adoption. And for that I say, “Praise God!”

While it is a hard reality that we cannot save every child without a family on our own, we have to keep faith that God is orchestrating an army of adoptive mommas and poppas around the world. We have to remember that we are part of a larger body, each specifically designed and called to specific children. While some of us may fight on behalf of a child across the street while others across the states or even across the world, we are all part of the same body, fighting the same battle. So next time you hear the question, “Why did you choose this type of adoption?” don’t feel guilty for not choosing what the questioner may have preferred. Instead, praise God that you have found your calling and trust that we are all fighting for the same God and the same purpose, regardless of whether it’s here or abroad.

 

Verses to Consider:

Yes, there are many parts, but only one body. The eye can never say to the hand, “I don’t need you.” The head can’t say to the feet, “I don’t need you.” In fact, some parts of the body that seem weakest and least important are actually the most necessary. And the parts we regard as less honorable are those we clothe with the greatest care. So we carefully protect those parts that should not be seen, while the more honorable parts do not require this special care. So God has put the body together such that extra honor and care are given to those parts that have less dignity. This makes for harmony among the members, so that all the members care for each other. -1 CORINTHIANS 12:20-25

 He makes the whole body fit together perfectly. As each part does its own special work, it helps the other parts grow, so that the whole body is healthy and growing and full of love. –EPHESIANS 4:16

As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace -1 Peter 4:10

 

A Prayer for Your Day:

Lord, thank you for allowing me to be a member of a larger body which loves to serve the children of the world who have no family. God, you made me unique so that I could accomplish a specific purpose in your kingdom (Jer. 1:5). You have enabled me to love a specific child. I pray that I would honor your calling by honoring the abilities you have given me to love [child’s name] the best that I can. Lord, help me to humble myself and become aware of my shortcomings so that I can find others whom you uniquely gifted to help me when necessary. I pray for all of the adoptive parents of the world that regardless of what type of adoption they are pursuing that they would know they are not alone and are being held up in prayer today. Encourage them as so many have encouraged me. Sustain them, as you have sustained me. Provide in whatever way they need to bring your good works to completion.

In Jesus’ name I pray,

Amen.

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