The Fears and Joys of Our Adoption Journey (Part 1 of 2)

by Sally Matheny

(The Fears and Joys of Adopting)

Our son was nine days old when we first met him. As soon as I entered the room, I saw a large, white basket on the sofa. Like a strong magnet, it pulled my heart.  

My husband said, “Wait. Let me get the camera.” I shook my head replying, “I have waited for years, and I cannot wait a moment longer!”  

Gently, I scooped up the tiny miracle and nuzzled him in for a kiss. In that moment, an amazing peace and overwhelming love swaddled us together. Every previous concern, every fear melted away.

Many uncertainties had emerged during our adoption adventure. Nonetheless, more delights resulted. In honor of Adoption Awareness Month, I'd like to share with you a few of our adoption fears and joys. Perhaps they'll encourage you if you're considering adoption.

After a miscarriage, and later a hysterectomy, I struggled with an unending desire for another child. Our nine-year-old daughter first brought up adoption. In fact, she informed us she was taking the matter to the Lord in prayer. Never underestimate the prayers of children!

It’s easy to become overwhelmed with the adoption process. And it begins long before you ever begin paper work with an agency. There are emotional, physical, and spiritual matters to tackle.

Who Are We to Adopt?

One of the first concerns we tackled was the question we kept asking ourselves. “Who are we to adopt?”

We were blessed with two children already. Some couples didn’t even have one child yet. Was it wrong for us to seek another child?

After much prayer and research, we concluded there were some advantages in our situation.  Somewhere out there was someone who would see the benefit of older siblings for their child. 

Instead of wondering how we’ll fare as parents, they’d be able to view our portfolio and see our parenting skills already in action.

Also, if God had a plan to enlarge our family through adoption, He would do it. We felt a peace about beginning the process.

What If the Child has Problems?

We wondered what things would be like if we adopted a child with physical or mental issues. Some people say, “With adoption, you don’t know what you’re getting.”

I’ve got news for them. Birthing your own children has no guarantees either. Every child is different. Some have issues from day one. Some develop them later in life. Adopted, biological . . . we all have issues!

That being said, adoption agencies acknowledge that some people are simply more gifted at handling some situations than others. We were asked to complete a questionnaire at the adoption agency. They asked questions like, “Would you consider adopting a child with a physical handicap? Would you consider adopting a child with apparent learning delays?” Each question provided various examples. We were told not to answer lightly, or heavy with guilt. 

Understanding people come with diverse backgrounds, capabilities, and environments; the agency desired to make as good a match as possible.

Adopting requires taking a step of faith. As in all things, we must learn to trust God to guide us in every situation.

Which Adoption Agency is Best for Us?

There are an estimated 3,000 adoption agencies in the United States. These are public and private agencies. Each has guidelines and restrictions. The larger ones have more children available for adoption but also have more adoptive parents on their waiting lists. Some are faith-based agencies. Some are not. Fees vary greatly. There is also the possibility of foster care adoptions. There’s a lot to research and consider!

We chose a small, Christian agency in our state but out of our local area. While not perfect, we loved this agency and its Christian worldview. 

Adopting requires taking a step of faith
Below is a list of Christian adoption agencies. You’ll find numerous more agencies online.

The Wait

After we pushed through a mountain of paperwork and completed our home study, we settled in for the wait. I honestly thought we’d get a call within a few months.

Waiting is like riding a roller coaster. Two different times, birthmothers got our hopes up when we heard they were seriously looking at our portfolio. However, one chose to keep her baby and the other placed hers with a family member.

Our home study was valid for eighteen months. When it expired, my faith wavered. I thought adoption was the route God had wanted us to take. Could my own selfish desires have clouded my perspective?

The adoption agency said for us to pray about renewing our home study. They also reminded us that the eighteen months is a standard set by the world, not by God. After a period of praying, we renewed our home study.

I thought it best to stay busy. I worked part-time, volunteered in various places, and homeschooled our sweet girls. And you know me. I kept a journal. The house got a little more nervous-cleaning than usual. But I refused to decorate the nursery or buy anything for a baby. I thought it would be devastating if it never came.

The waiting is the most difficult part of adoption. Nevertheless, God grows us in the waiting seasons. 

I hope you’ll return for my next post: The Fears and Joys of Adoption (Part 2).

I’ll tell you about our meeting the birthmother, more waiting, and the down-to-the-wire snag with the birthfather. And I’ll share more joyful moments in our amazing adoption journey.

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