For some of you reading this it will feel like this blog is completely out of left field. You may think, “What? They’ve never said anything about this before!” or “I wonder how this will fit with their goal of getting to the mission field.” In reality this blog is an expression of desires stored up in my heart for the last eight years. I am EXCITED to write and let you know that we have started the process to be approved as an adoptive family. Before I start, I want to emphasize a truth that we have really been learning and experiencing in many ways lately - God’s timing is rarely our timing, but it is always the right timing!
I had never given more than a passing thought to adoption until I lived in England and worked with teens aging out of the foster care system. The teens I worked with were leaving the system without any sort of continuing parental influence or support. It was then that God began to grow the desire to welcome these kids into my home and family through adoption. Once I made the comment to Ben, “I don’t care if we have our own children, I would be fine just adopting from foster care. I’d even like to adopt an older child…at least five years old.”
Over the years that followed we would talk on and off about the “five year old” I wanted to adopt. Ben was never closed to the idea, but felt it would be best to have biological children first so we could practice parenting before adopting. So in September 2007 we decided to try to start a family and soon were pregnant. Unfortunately that pregnancy ended in miscarriage at 12 weeks and we weren’t able to get pregnant again. It took two solid years for me to really recover. As strange as it sounds I am thankful to not have gotten pregnant again right away. I am thankful because instead of filling the void with a new pregnancy I have learned to trust fully in Jesus. Please don’t hear me wrong, I still want to have biological kids. In fact I plan to and trust God that this will happen. None the less I am thankful for the opportunity to know Jesus as the healer of my deepest hurts.
About a year ago Ben and I started to talk about adoption again. Around last summer we agreed to attend an adoption orientation to see if this was something we should pursue. So in July I called Brevard Family Partnership and signed up for the MAPP classes. I had expected to get into orientation and MAPP within a few weeks however due to budget cuts and staffing shortages the classes were canceled. We had no idea when a class would become available to us. It seemed as if this dream, like missions, was now suspended in space and we had no way of knowing if or when we could fulfill it.
In early January (shortly after my last blog entry) we received a letter inviting us to attend orientation and MAPP. We headed off to orientation and heard all about the adoption process, both the challenges and joys. We got to ask questions and really think through whether this was right for us. On the way home I was sitting in the car thanking God that my husband has a tender heart and is willing to explore adoption even though he wasn’t totally comfortable with it. In the middle of this prayer Ben said, “I’m sorry if I’ve ever stood in the way of us doing this before.” Later he recounted that as we sat in the meeting room and read biographies of some of the children available for adoption the reality that these kids don’t have families really hit home for him. He had also recently been challenged by verses from the book of James “Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.”
To date we’ve attended three weeks of MAPP classes. And since I’ve been using this acronym without explanation you’re probably ready to know what in the world it stands for. MAPP means “Model Approach to Partnership in Parenting” and is a required class for any prospective foster or adoptive families. The class goes to great lengths to describe how children with a history of harm and/or neglect require different parenting strategies. This last class focused on losses and gains. We learned that in order to effectively welcome these children into our home and to help them heal we have to understand loss and grieving. We need to be able to recognize that behaviors are indicators of a deeper hurt and be willing to guide children through the healing process. Future classes will focus more on healing as well has how to handle bad behaviors.
Although we’ve started MAPP there are still many unknowns for us. Ben is nearly done with this Instrument Instructor rating and we don’t know if he’ll be able hired as an instructor locally or need to travel down to Jupiter during the week and come home on weekends. We don’t know if we’ll even be approved for adoption as there is still a ton of paperwork and a home study to complete. And of course we don’t know who or how old the child or children we adopt are.
So please pray for us and pray with us that we will head in the direction God desires of us. And to finish off here’s a video of some of the children in Broward County (southern Florida) who are still waiting for forever families.