We have often been asked why we wanted to adopt, as if there must be only one reason. For us, there are several. Naturally they vary in importance. Some of them affect the decision to do it “at some point”, and others affect the decision to do it now.
First, we felt called to adopt. From the first months of our marriage we discussed adoption, and both felt it was something we would do “someday”. Was that day after having biological children? Was it later in life? Was it before having biological children? Would we adopt older children, or babies/toddlers? We did not know any of these answers, but we did know that we would end up with children with different skin colors. We both felt that part of this process for us would involve our family reflecting the beauty of God’s family, which included people of every nation and race (Revelation 5.9-10). We also knew that it would happen when God led us to the place where He knew we were ready to handle it.
Part of the sense of call also stemmed from our reading of Scripture. James 1.27: “Pure and undefiled religion in the sight of our God and Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their distress.” (NASB) Matthew 25.40 “The King will answer and say to them, ‘Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did it to one of these brothers of Mine, even the least of them, you did it to Me.’“ We knew that we were called to the least of these. We felt dissatisfied with the usual “Christian” answer of donating money to Compassion, Voice of the Martyrs, Crisis Pregnancy Centers, etc. We knew that was part of what Christ calls us to, but paying others to help the least didn’t seem to satisfy our souls that we were really taking Scripture’s call seriously. It seemed to easy. Where was the REAL sacrifice? Sending a little money wasn’t really that hard. Sure, during graduate school, it felt like the “widow’s mite”. There was some real sacrifice, but we felt God telling us that our “least of these” were children who needed us to sacrifice comfort, and step out and help. There would be financial cost; there would be emotional cost; there would be questions; none of it mattered.
People often assume that we are interested in adopting because of fertility issues. For us, that was not the case. I do realize that many families find that adoption allows them to match their desire for children with a child who desperately needs the stability and love that they can provide. This simply was not a major motivation for us.
Ironically, after finishing graduate school, and beginning my teaching here at Messiah, we discovered that we had infertility issues. We decided at the time to try treatments. There was a clinical trial (unsuccessful) and then several months of a more standard treatment. It worked, but was expensive and painful. We were blessed with our oldest daughter. Adoption was not really in the forefront of our mind at this point. We were not in a financial position to consider international adoption or the usual domestic adoption choices. We do not “regret” the infertility treatments at all. For where we were emotionally, financially, and spiritually, it was the right path for us to take.
After settling into life as a family of three, and then moving into our first home (Ok, the bank really owns most of it, but we sure had to sign a lot of papers to “buy” it.) we felt happy with where we were. We did not feel that we wanted to go through infertility treatments at the time. We both were just at peace with where we were, and waiting on God’s timing to lead us to the next phase. Neither of us thought that our family was “complete” in any sense, but were were content.
Around Thanksgiving of 2007, we were with Joy’s family and her sister and brother-in-law mentioned that they were planning to adopt a young girl from the foster care system. They detailed for us training required, and the resources provided by the state to foster/adoptive parents.
The ride home involved a lot of discussion about how we both felt about this news. We knew that this was God speaking to us about our journey. The state would pay for the training if we were willing to provide foster care on the way to adoption. Legal fees would be reimbursed by the state. Pennsylvania is very interested in not having kids bounce around in the foster system, and is willing to put money into helping move kids into permanent adoptive homes.
From there it was a whirlwind. We talked to friends who had provided foster care and were in the process of adopting. We obtained information from Diakon (Lutheran Family Services) in Mechanicsburg, and did our training in February of 2008. By early May we were certified. In mid-June, we got “the call” about the children that have become ours.