An Adoption Story: Part Two - Praying Through Roadblocks
If you haven’t read part one yet you should go do that first. It’ll help with some of the details and background.
Sometimes we’re so focused on the finish line that we forget about the individual roadblocks that will undoubtedly occur in the adoption and family planning process. Don’t get me wrong, it is exciting to focus on the end! And we absolutely should because it drives us toward hope. We long for the day when the adoption is complete or when our family planning process finally looks like the vision in our head. Sometimes though, this can cause us to become blindsided by adversity or the unexpected roadblocks of the adoption and family planning process.
When I met my wife’s children, they were already praying for a new dad. And not just any dad, but one with kids (four kids)! There was a reason for their prayers. My wife had full custody, and their biological father was only permitted supervised time. Over the course of time, he would abandon this time and in the process his biological children; one of whom was facing a debilitating heart condition that would later take her life.
Like I said before, every adoption story is unique. This one has equal parts loss and victory.
Roadblock 1: An Absent Biological Father
It is not my place to judge.
“Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven. Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.”
Luke 6:37-38 NIV
All I’ll say is that it had become apparent that it was no longer healthy for the children’s biological father to be part of their lives. Even with that in mind, we couldn’t legally do anything about it at that moment. He had parental rights and was legally allowed weekly supervised visits. We certainly weren't going to violate those rights, and it was his responsibility to make sure that he followed through.
So we started to pray for something to change. Our first prayer was health for the kids, and our hope was that "health" meant that I could adopt the kids.
So we prayed and we waited.
One week went by with no contact, then a month. Soon it was two. This was becoming a pattern. And this pattern put the topic of adoption back on the table. It was always a dream before, but now it was looking like a reality!
And the waiting? Well, we realized that this was part of the answer to our prayer!
Roadblock 2: The Tough Realities of Being an Adoptive Parent
There are some tough realities about being an adoptive parent. And one of them has to do with the fact that your kids are facing an absence in their life. At some level, they're facing abandonment. At some stage in their childhood development, this abandonment manifests in a tangible way. I wish I could say it is super easy to identify. It isn't always easy for us as parents to notice, and it can be even harder for kids to vocalize how they are feeling, or to understand that they are feeling something.
And here’s another tough reality, at some point you are going to be so mad at their biological parent(s). Like super mad. You're going to find yourself caught off guard by your child's pain. I wish I could say this is only going to happen once, or infrequently, but it might not. It'll likely be a constant possibility for tension.
It is so important in these moments that we have a strategy of grace. Because like it or not, biology may end up being a critical component of who our children are. And ready or not there could be some “emotional baggage” that will unexpectedly show up in your child’s development. Our children need us to be spiritually mature in this area. They need to be told who they are in Jesus. They need us to tell them what their Godly identity is. And they need to know why we are so dedicated to being their spiritual fathers and mothers. They need to know that we have grace, and in this process, they'll learn what true grace looks like. As parents, we must commit ourselves to be practicioners of God’s grace in our conversations and our actions.
“Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.”
Colossians 4:6 NIV
I still must actively give my frustration and anger toward my children’s biological father to God. It is a work in progress, and so am I.
“Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.”
Ephesians 4:31-32 NIV
When you’re the adoptive parent and the biological parent is still present in the child’s life it opens up a whole host of variables and unknowns. Will they sign off on giving up their parental rights? Will they challenge the legal process? What about their extended family? Will a family member lay a claim and try to block the adoption process? So, are we facing a contested adoption? Will it be uncontested? Every state is different in their requirements.
Even when a parent is absent it doesn’t mean that it is easy for anyone. Having an abandoned parent or two is a huge stressor for kids.
As parents, we’re active prayer warriors for our kid’s health - physically, spiritually, and mentally.
If you are considering adoption or exploring the adoption process I highly recommend talking to behavioral health and mental health counselors ahead of the process. Your legal counselor isn't enough. They're going to advise you on the legal process, and help you to understand and navigate potential outcomes and costs. Talk to a mental health professional. This will prepare you for some of what your future child(ren) are facing in their current environment. Interview others who have gone through the process. Find a support group, mentor, or another person who has adopted a child and talk to them about what it is like.
This will help you to define your prayers for your children. It will bring clarity of expectation.
And if you don’t have clarity or don’t know what to ask for, ask Holy Spirit for help.
“In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans.”
Romans 8:26 NIV
Roadblock 3: The One Year Wait - When Waiting is the Only Strategy
Once we made the decision to pursue adoption, our situation required a one year wait. And at any moment that clock could start over.
One year is a really long time. This meant that we couldn't start the legal adoption process for an entire year.
Birthdays, sports seasons, hospital visits, school events, church events, these were all triggers for the other party to reach out. And in some cases, we had to reach out to notify the party of an event, a health-related expense, a change in health care coverage, it seemed like there were always reasons we had to reach out.
Day by day, week by week, month by month that time passed.
And we had to wait.
Because here is another reality for an adoptive parent: there will be a season of unexpected waiting. It could be a year or like Abraham, it could be even longer!
During our wait, another unexpected roadblock would emerge when our daughter's health worsened. This would change everything and stretch our faith further than we even thought possible.