Friday, October 30, 2015

What Adoption Taught Me About Control

Two years ago David and Daniel joined our family. On that milestone day this month, I took some time to read all of the blog posts I've written on Adoption. God has taken us on quite a journey! So many delays, twists and turns in the path, doubts, fears...and over all of that, His sovereign goodness. This is what Adoption has taught me about Control.
  1. I had no control over the timing of our adoption. We had some pretty clear ideas of how God was going to put the pieces of our story together. And it didn't turn out that way at all. We started the adoption process in 2007, when our children were 11, 10, and 8. At that point we were expecting a 12 month wait. 

    That same year, we also took our first family trip to Gansu province, the area God had put on Charly's heart before we got married, and we began praying that God would open a door for us to move there. We believed that God would complete our adoption while we were still in Tianjin, surrounded by a strong support network, and then provide Charly with a job that would enable us to move to central western China. But God was not in a hurry, or bound to our plans.
    In His perfect sovereignty, God waited until 2013, after we had lived in Gansu on our own for 2 ½ years and after CJ had left for college, before He brought David and Daniel into our family. 
    Early on in our waiting years, when friends and family committed to praying with us for the specific request we believed God had put on our hearts of two children from Gansu, a friend shared with Charly Habakkuk 2:3, “For the revelation awaits an appointed time; it speaks of the end and will not prove false. Though it linger, wait for it; it will certainly come and will not delay.” 

    We heard the “will not delay” part and felt confident that it would not be long before we would see God moving adoption mountains on our behalf. Looking back now, it's the “linger” and the “wait for it” that seem highlighted to me in this verse. As a result of those waiting years, I have grown in confidence that God has so much more to teach us in times of indefinite waiting, than when the answer comes right away. But it wasn't a lesson that I willingly learned.

    The years went by and we renewed our paperwork every 18 months. During that time, my doubts multiplied, “Did we hear God right? What is He doing? Did God lead us on this journey for us to actually not adopt in the end?”
A friend helped me to surrender the control that I wished I had over our adoption (as well as my migraine headaches) when she told me I needed to be Welcoming Unmet Expectations in my life, because they were going to come. The life I was currently living was God's best for me, not Plan B, not meant to punish me or make my life hard. In the Unanswered, I could accept the mystery of God. 

Waiting on God is an act of faith. The greatest thing ever required of us humans. Not faith in the outcome we are dictating to God, but faith in His character, faith in Himself. It is resting in the perfect confidence that he will guide in the right way, at the right time. He will supply our need. He will fulfill His work. He will give us the very best if we trust Him.
(Elisabeth Elliot)

To believe that God is writing a bigger story from our lives than we could possibly imagine—that all our past is indeed “Thank you,” and all our future is “Yes.” 
(Paula Rinehart)

We’re in no hurry, God. We’re content to linger in the path sign-posted with your decisions.” 
(Isaiah 26:8 MSG)
  1. The outcome of our adoption was also out of my control. In the spring of 2013, we were told that we had renewed our paperwork as many times as we could. If we wanted to stay in the system past August 22, we would have to start all over again. So instead of indefinite waiting, we now had a clear deadline. My Husband My Hero wanted to continue to wait for the Gansu miracle as long as we possibly could. I was Wanting to Wait Well, but also felt weary of waiting and ready to give up on this hope that we had held on to for so long; ready to take another match just so we could adopt. 
    God honored Charly's faith and gave us news on July 15 of David and Daniel (aged 8 and 7), who had grown up “like brothers” in the Lanzhou orphanage, not very far from where we were living. This good news quickly dissolved into the realization that it would be a battle for us to adopt them together and within our tight time frame. One of our biggest lessons, in the midst of all the discouraging news we received that month, was that It Had to be God who accomplished what had become impossible. We couldn't put our trust in how persistent Charly was in making phone calls, or in how earnestly or how many people were praying for us. He was in control, not us.
God moved the mountains that needed to be moved, and we rejoiced for exactly two days after we found out that our file had been matched with David's and Daniel's. Then our lives turned upside down when we learned that Daniel had just come out of a 6 day coma in the hospital. He had suffered a serious brain infection and it was unclear what kind of recovery he would make.

There were so many tears during the dark days that followed. Why God?

We made a unanimous family decision, including CJ through skype calls, to sign the consent form to adopt both boys. We didn't really know what the implications would be, related to the long term effects of Daniel's brain damage, but we believed that God had led us down this road and we wanted to keep following Him.

“You cannot control your life. You are therefore free. You are not trapped by the need to arrange things as you want. Trust me more fully than you ever have before. Do what I am leading you to do, even though the risks from your perspective are enormous. 
I am thoroughly good, and I am good enough to trust thoroughly.”
(Larry Crabb, Finding God)

  1. After the adoption process has been completed, so much still feels out of my control. Bonding has been a real challenge for me, and I have struggled with feelings of being a failure as an adoptive Mom. During our one year home study interview, when the social worker asked what my favorite thing was about being David and Daniel's Mom, I had nothing to say. And I felt horrible about that.
It's a journey. And I'm thankful that where we are at two years is much better than where we were at one. I am holding on to hope that God will continue to bless my relationships with David and Daniel and knit our hearts even closer together in the years to come. It's a very different experience to mother older children, when we don't have a shared history together. Different for me, and for them to have a mother when they've lived without one for most of their lives.
    I know that David and Daniel have struggled with similar feelings to mine, over lack of control on this journey. David's out-of-control screaming that he wanted to go back to the orphanage at our front door after he'd been with us for just over an hour was because, he told us later, he wasn't sure if we were going to be good to him or not. He was scared of the unknown. Me too. I continue to wrestle with fears over what issues we're going to face as the boys grow older. I have no control over that, and I have been convicted that I need to release these fears to God. Not let them control me.
God moved mountains to bring these two boys that He chose especially for us into our family at just the right time. The outcome of the adoption was exactly the way He planned it to be. He has moved major mountains in Daniel's recovery; He made The Lame to Leap and the Mute to Speak in an amazing Two Months of Change. And He is in complete control of the days, months, and years to come. I can choose to rest in His sovereign goodness.

Moses told the Israelites, “The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still.” 
(Exodus 14:14)

Your path led through the sea, your way through the mighty waters, though your footprints were not seen.” (Psalm 77:19)

When Pharaoh finally let the people go, God did not lead them on the road that runs through Philistine territory, even though that way was the shortest way from Egypt to the Promised Land…God led them along a route through the wilderness…”
(Exodus 13:17-18a)

In spite of all the miracles they witnessed as God delivered them from Egypt, the Israelites still struggled with trusting God. Me too. Weren't our lives better back in Egypt? Can we get back there again and enjoy all that good food? Who wants to wander in the desert? Not me.

Manna. Water. In that dreadfully dry and barren desert. When I close my eyes I can picture it. There's daily provision. Daily compassion. Daily guidance. Which is what He offers me too. Not control of my life as an adoptive Mom. Not puffed-up feelings of “Wow, I'm such a natural at this.” But, on my knees confessing, “This is really hard. And I don't know what I'm doing. But that's why I need you, God. For hope. For strength. For love to give to them that doesn't come easily. For forgiveness. For grace. You are the One in control, so I don't need to try to be. And You are good. All the time.”

But the plans of the Lord stand firm forever, the purposes of his heart through all generations.” (Psalm 33:11)

(Linking up with Velvet Ashes this week on the topic of Control)


  1. Thanks so much for sharing some of your family's adoption story - we'll have to compare notes one day!

    1. Yes, would love to do that, Michele!

  2. Love this post. Hope to see you soon.

    1. Thanks Ann! Hope we can find a way to see each other too :)



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