When we got back from Tulsa in April, we felt so battered and bruised. It had been SUCH a ride. We don't regret for one second the "yes" that allowed us to spend time and love on an amazing couple and their soon-to-be-born baby, but this was just not how we saw our adoptions going.
Three matches. Three failures.
I was telling my sister today that sometimes I feel like God hung us out to dry in all these situations. I'm not angry at him about it, I just sometimes want to give him the side-eye and say, "Seriously?!" We would have loved on people anyway, we would have served anyway, why did you call us to ADOPT? To throw wide the doors of our home and our hearts, to expose ourselves to invasive scrutiny from social workers and strangers, to give lavishly of our time, energy, and emotions. Seriously, God, you needed ALL of this from me?
And the answer that comes to me is always a simple one. Yes, he did. And, in fact, he required it all of himself first - that and so much more.
Think of yourselves the way Christ Jesus thought of himself. He had equal status with God but didn’t think so much of himself that he had to cling to the advantages of that status no matter what. Not at all. When the time came, he set aside the privileges of deity and took on the status of a slave, became human! Having become human, he stayed human. It was an incredibly humbling process. He didn’t claim special privileges. Instead, he lived a selfless, obedient life and then died a selfless, obedient death—and the worst kind of death at that—a crucifixion. (Philippians 2:6-8, from the Message)
I so desperately want to cling to the advantages of my white, middle-class, first-world, American life. I so desperately want to shout, "This is wrong! I have been mistreated!" My selfish, human heart wants all the advantages and all the "easy" to come my way. It's not that I don't expect trials, I just seem to expect God to fix them like some fairy godmother in the sky. And at the same time while I'm thinking I want all of that, I know (that I know, that I know, that I know) that a life lived without struggle, without risk, without obedience and humbling of myself would be completely worthless. Avoiding pain and problems is not what brings contentment and peace.
And that brings me to our news - we are headed back into the fray. Today when I went out to get the mail and found our brand new home study waiting for me, I knew it was time to share this publicly with you all. We have been so supported and carried throughout everything we've faced and I can never say enough how blessed and humbled we are by your constant prayers and encouragement.
A few weeks after we returned from Tulsa, we were praying about what our next steps would be. Our feelings were so different than when we came home in January. For the first time we felt released, as though our time in Tulsa might be done for now, but we weren't sure where God was taking us next. Years ago, before we ever decided to pursue domestic infant adoption, I ran across an adoptive mom's blog. She and her husband had adopted three times using Christian Adoption Consultants and while I don't even remember their story, the agency stuck with me. As we were praying and seeking God for our new direction, I started running across posts on Facebook about CAC. It was one of those coincidence-not really coincidence things - a friend of a friend was actually an adoption consultant for CAC. I couldn't believe it! I got in touch with her and something resonated with me so strongly.
I resisted it. Choosing to leave our previous agency and work with CAC would be a monumental faith step for us. It all came down to money. Our previous agency had low, to the point of being almost unheard of, costs - around $10,000 with legal fees. The agencies CAC works with all had fairly standard adoption costs, $25,000-$35,000. The money seemed like a completely insurmountable obstacle.
While I really enjoyed my conversation with Casey (the adoption consultant), I was sure this as not the direction that God would have us go. We are called to be good stewards of our finances, not to throw caution to the wind and volunteer to spend $30,000 we didn't have.
I was sitting on my bed after my conversation with Casey, just mulling over it all and, honestly, can I be a little transparent here, feeling some pride in my ability to be level-headed and financially conservative (both excellent traits in general) when I heard, clear as day, "Burn the ships."
Come again, God?
Burn the ships.
The phrase triggered a memory in me from my high school Spanish class. There is a story about Hernán Cortés, the conquistador who conquered much of Mexico for Spain, where upon setting out to face the Aztec king, he first burns and sinks all of the ships his men came on.
Cortés and I are not very much alike. I would've kept my ships. I like my ships. They provide me security and a safe place to retreat from the expeditions I've been on.
Burn the ships.
But, God, don't you want me to be wise with my money, not reckless? Spending money I don't have is reckless. This could not possibly be what you have for us.
And He answered this way:
This is what the Lord says—
he who made a way through the sea,
a path through the mighty waters,
who drew out the chariots and horses,
the army and reinforcements together,
and they lay there, never to rise again,
extinguished, snuffed out like a wick:
“Forget the former things;
do not dwell on the past.
See, I am doing a new thing!
Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?
I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland." (Isaiah 43:16-19, NIV)
The imagery of streams in a wasteland was so powerful for me. When our adoption failed in January, it felt like my entire life was a wasteland, as though nothing new would ever grow or flourish there. When another adoption fell through in April, it seemed like more confirmation that we were somehow flawed. Feelings that infertility first birthed in me of being dry and desolate, incapable of creating or sustaining life, were only made stronger with our adoptions failing. This is why it was so impactful when God brought this promise to my mind.
He says forget the past, I am doing something new. I am turning the wasteland into a fertile place.
That promise is so incomprehensible to me. How? How can this happen?
Burn the ships.
And I knew. I knew in the way that you know things about love and faith and miracles, that God had new plans for us. That they would require me to be obedient, to be humble. To experience a new level of transparency and community. To stop trying to control how our journey went and to once again take a leap of faith.
We said yes.
I emailed Casey and we got started. For the last three weeks, we've been working on home study updates and new profile books. We've been filling out mountains of paperwork to apply for loans and grants, while brainstorming fundraiser ideas and praying for provision. There has been a lot of grieving and processing. The last time we were doing all of this we were so excited, so sure everything would work out in our favor. This time is more somber. I feel less sure of myself and have no confidence that I will be able to make this happen by creating the perfect profile book or making sure we have all the right answers. But I have so much more confidence in God. I have confidence that he will make a way through our wilderness and bring streams to our wasteland.
I do not know what this is going to look like. I have no idea where we will be in the next few weeks and months. This baby could come next week or never. But I am peaceful and content in knowing that our "yes" is on the table and the rest of it is not up to me.
Please continue praying with us through these next steps. I will try to keep our adoption-specific facebook group updated regularly, so if you want to access to that and don't have it, send me a message. Again, thank you so much for all of the love and support. This beautiful community is one of the purest forms of redemption we have seen come out of all of our struggles. You are all so precious to us. Thank you.