It was just over five years ago.
I sat with Jamie in the old Lifeline Children's Services building on their blue couch.
He held my hand. He was there because he knew this is what I wanted more than anything. Even with three boys four and under, I knew we were called to adopt.
We had her name, Frankie Joy, after me, my grandmother, and my great-grandmother.
We jumped on board with Uganda. It was Lifeline's brand, spankin' new program. Our journey would be fresh.
That night we came home, and Jamie prayed a prayer I will never forget. I wrote it down in my journal the next day...
Father, don't let this adoption journey just be about a baby, a child. Let the journey you grace us with be a vehicle of your glory, your Gospel, no matter how many twists and turns there are.
And there have been quite a few.
God slammed shut the door to Uganda, and we began pursuing a domestic open adoption, believing God was calling us to be His conduit of grace to one hurting mother.
Then, life hit the fan. And, I'm saying that in the most polite way.
As God closed door after door, our season of life grew darker and darker.
Until three years ago, when Jamie sat me down and said, I don't think we're called to one child. I think we're called to bridge a gap. I think we're called to be foster parents.
Uh-uh, no way, I responded, leaping from the bed onto his head.
Give it six months. That's all I'm asking.
Today I was listening to a sobering interview with Kathryn Joyce on National Public Radio. Joyce is a New York journalist and reviewer of religious movements in the political and cultural realm. She has studied and observed Christianity in previous writings. However, her most recent book, The Child Catchers: Rescue, Trafficking, and the New Gospel of Adoption, evidently explores the movement of adoption as a American Christian agenda.
Though I haven't read the book, I've now ordered it. Yet, her interview gave reason to pause.
There are hundreds of millions of fatherless, motherless across the world, and we are commanded to visit them in their distress as disciples of Christ. (James 1:27). Watch the documentary Stuck and be paralyzed in the brokenness and injustice of our system across the world, but also here at home.
Right here in Jefferson County, there are 150 cases waiting for a termination date. Some of these parents are absent; some spinning their wheels and all their resources, attempting to beat the clock before a court date is set. I know. I've been there...more than once. Once that trial is reached, an appeal case can take another year...or two. Suddenly a 9-year-old is 13, and stamped unadoptable, left to age out on his or her own.
It's not one person's fault or problem. It goes back to the red tape, the hoops, and the obstacles. And, I'm fully aware that international adoption is just as messy.
I praise God for His movement of orphan care and emphasis across our Christian community.
But, are we careful to keep our hearts in check, and not allow the good thing of adoption or foster care to become ultimate?
It is because of grace we can serve and pursue these things, yet the end result is not....cannot be that cute Christmas card picture, or even that child. Our hope must be that God is a sovereign God, and He demands glory as His Gospel goes forth in every signature signed, every lost paper, every delayed timeline, every conversation with a social worker, or agency, or friend.
I can say this because this January, I realized I had allowed the pursuit of one child, to become a false king, an idol in my own life. That longing was, and is, a good thing.
Yet in spinning my wheels to accomplish my goal that I was certain God would want to bless, I almost missed what God was doing in spite of my agenda.
I almost missed a young Chinese girl, longing for a place to be known, to be remembered.
I almost missed a little bambina. And as I clung tightly to deciding she must be ours forever, I almost missed her brother and sister who grace our home every Sunday and her grandmother who has discovered there is a God who loves beyond mistakes.
I almost missed her seeking to know she is loved.
I almost missed her hugs, her squeals.
I almost missed their momma and the chance to walk through the darkest valley of her life with her.
I almost missed his fingers around mine and becoming a daughter to his grandmother.
I almost missed the 30 faces, who have longed for a safe place to lay their head. Not one of them has stayed, but they were here for the exact amount of time He appointed.
I almost missed 10 social workers, lawyers, judges, to be the incarnation of Christ to.
I almost missed discovering spaces in my heart, in my marriage, in my children, in my Savior, I never knew existed.
But God, in His great mercy, pushed past my agenda and timeline, to draw me into His own.
How deeply I am loved. How deeply I am pursued. How deeply I am rejoiced over.
Let's not seek adoption, foster care, and orphan care as another Christian agenda, but as spaces to be broken before a watching world as we wait for His agenda, His appointed time, His mercies that are new each morning. Because He who calls us is faithful, even in the darkest hours, as we wait for the children He has written on our hearts, as we hope in the mommas and daddies who have no one hoping in them.
Because of the One who has numbered each moment,