An Adoption Story: Part One - The Power of Praying with Clarity and Specificity
Everyone’s adoption journey is unique.
But no matter the journey, each of us will find ourselves waiting with uncertainty at some point. And for most of us, it can cast doubt on our purpose, our calling, and our ability to hear God with clarity.
Adoption is a long and arduous journey. It's filled with pitfalls, external sign offs, biological parent notifications, extended family notifications, agency, governmental agency, or even foreign governmental agency approvals and so much more. This process can take months or years, and the slightest hiccup can throw the whole thing sideways.
In 2017 I started the process of adopting my stepson. We never use that term, but it’s the legal definition I was dealing with at that time, and it clarifies so many details of the story. But I reticently use that label. I don’t think of him in this way. Yes, he’s my adopted son, but more importantly, he’s simply my son. I think God thinks of us this way too. It’s why we’re told we are adopted sons and daughters.
So you have not received a spirit that makes you fearful slaves. Instead you received God's Spirit when he adopted you as his own children. Now we call him, Abba, Father.
Romans 8:15 NLT
The Greek word for adoption, huithesia, places an emphasis that the child has full inheritance rights and the same status as a natural child. Adoption is a Godly concept and it is revered in the Kingdom of Heaven as the highest honor of acceptance into a family. It is treated with equality to the biological relationship that God has with His son, Jesus, and we as adopted children share a co-inheritance with Jesus. Never let your adopted children forget that they are royalty!
In November of 2014 before meeting my wife’s children, I knew that I may someday be their dad. As a single father of four, I had been having an ongoing conversation with God for the past 18 months. Lord, I don’t understand this situation, I’m supposed to be a father to more kids. And Lord, I’m supposed to be a husband. Why am I here Lord? Why am I waiting? Why am I being punished? Why do I have this illogical desire to have more kids? Fine Lord, just take this away from me! Take this desire away! Lord, where is my wife? Lord, I need your help!
My prayers were filled with desperation, but they also encompassed the full range of the emotional spectrum. And that’s okay. Because I’ve learned that the author and creator of all emotion understands our emotion!
At that time I was already a father, but there was this unfulfilled promise in front of me, and the number 6, which had been given to me years before from the Lord rang in my head like a reverberating but hollow note. At 38 years old I felt like I must not have heard God clearly. I was confused. Honestly, that’s a tad of an understatement. More clearly I was frustrated with God’s promise and I began doubting my ability to hear His voice. I spent a lot of time flat out angry at Him.
All the while, I never lost that internal sense of purpose. Maybe you could even call it drive or destiny? I had a feeling that things were supposed to be different and the only thing I could do is endure and wait. Oh, I struggled and wrestled and pouted, but at some point I realized that I just had to wait. That I had to give control over. As I waited, my thinking turned to expectation. This was not me, this was God. God turned my unfulfilled promise to hope. He changed my heart and in that process grew my dependency on Him and my faith in His goodness. All I had to do was endure (Romans 5:3-5)
Because this story is one of God’s goodness, even in the waiting, and especially in the endurance.
Only two weeks into my dating relationship with my now wife, I met her kids for the first time. I hustled from work to her house. Things were going really well. Scarily well. The first time I laid eyes on her was momentous. I was completely unprepared for how significant that meeting would be! On our first date we spent 5 hours just talking. There were sparks flying for both of us!
When I got to her place, I grabbed a glass of water from the kitchen and looked at the fridge; “Dear God, I’m praying for a new dad, with four kids.”
Um. .what? I checked for a date, it was 6 months old.
Well I certainly check that checkbox.
My future wife came into the kitchen and froze, probably realizing for the first time what was on the fridge, and that I would be in her kitchen that day. Later she described her internal dialogue with God “Dad, don’t let this scare him away please.” I've always loved the personal nature of her prayers with God.
There was another drawing next to it, “God I’m praying for a new dad with kids.”
I checked that date too just to be sure. Yep, also 6 months old.
That water went down quickly!
But here’s the thing. You see I was struck by the clarity and simplicity of these prayers. These children, full of faith and expectation, praying for a dad to enter their life. Not just any dad, but a dad with lots of kids. With FOUR kids. They were praying for me. My own prayers felt meek in comparison, and my trust in God’s ability to do the miraculous felt paled next to their wholehearted trust and the expectation that their prayers would be answered.
When I met my future children for the first time they taught me something powerful about trusting God while waiting on a promise. They taught me about simple faith and clarity of request.
That night I heard them pray, “Jesus thank you that you have a dad for me with lots of kids.”
There it was again. And what was this language? Thank you that. . .?
My prayer language seemed so weak!
Dear Jesus thank you that. . . is a powerful declaration of bold faith and an expectation that it will happen. My wife would help them with things like “with your will, or a concept of "in partnership with you.” But she never stifled their prayers. She never told them they shouldn't be praying for this thing that might seem impossible. In fact she was teaching them to be bold in their requests to Jesus.
I realize that we don’t all get to meet our adopted children before we adopt them. At best we might have a picture, or a description of the mother’s situation, or a knowledge of the conditions of the area. I know that I’m blessed to have built a relationship with them first. I also know that each adoption journey is unique. My hope is that in hearing these prayers it will encourage you to understand that your future children might be praying for you. Like, exactly you! Somebody is for sure.
One of my close friends who is a paraplegic and is unable to have children, spent 3 years and 22 tries at embryo adoption before he and his wife could conceive two beautiful young girls. At one point, ready to call it off because of the constant hormonal onslaught and feeling of constant loss, they cried out to God, together in prayer. God spoke to them about where we store our treasures; in heaven. My friend now beautifully describes each attempt and each prayer as his stored treasures in heaven.
Your prayers are stored in heaven.
Don’t ever stop asking God, don’t ever stop praying, and don't ever be afraid of being clear and specific in your bold requests!