This post was adapted from a recorded interview with Tyler Deeb.
We had our son Royal about six years ago. Before Royal was born, Noel talked with me about adoption. That was something I was not interested in--for all of the stereotypical reasons that a man is not interested in adoption.
The first time my heart softened to the idea was when we were walking around with Royal in the stroller about six months after he was born. Noel asked me to look at him and imagine that he was born without parents who cared for him. What if he was in a crib crying without loving parents to take care of him?
That's not hyperbole. It's reality in a lot of orphanages around the world. Kids lose the will to cry because they haven't been responded to enough. Before that walk when we'd talked about it, it was hard for me to put it into context. But now that I had a son, I really understood how sad that was. So, I began to have empathy for the idea, but I wasn't sold that this was for us. Then, after we had our second son, North, Noel kept talking to me about adoption and asking me to consider it.
Around North's first birthday we started the process. We really didn't know what we were doing. Pretty much everything we did in pursuing the adoption process was with a lot of naivety and a really strong gut feeling. When I say gut feeling, I mean open-handed before the Spirit. Our prayer was, "Lord, if this isn't what we're supposed to be doing with out lives, you have every right to remove this opportunity or frustrate it so that it fails."
You don't actually have to think about adopting that much during the process. You just go through the paperwork and work on the next thing. It does make you confront the reality, but it seems so far away that it doesn't really feel like something you're about to do. About a year into the process, we got placed with Win. His name was Xi-Jing at the time. I remember that we were driving back from Wisconsin visiting Noel's family and we got a picture and we were asked if we would adopt him. We said yes.
Then, about three months later, we found out we were pregnant. We weren't planning it. Agencies don't typically allow you to adopt within a short window of having a baby, so we were really upset. It was such a tedious year-long process to adopt. We'd done all this work. We felt like we'd wasted our time and Win's time. These are such precious years of his life without parents. So we asked the agency if they would still consider us. Somehow they said yes, and we went to China to get Win in March of 2015.
Leon Bridges has this song, "River," that recently brought me to tears: "Take me to the river, Lord, I want to go." It reminds me of how desperate I am. Adoption has been the hardest thing I've ever done by an insane amount. In some ways, we've been traumatized. I just find myself saying, "We don't have enough to do all this."
It has basically been insanity since March 2015. We were in China jet lagged. We got Win, and then we were jet lagged in the States when we got back. Win experienced the time change and the trauma of changing continents with all the different sounds and smells. A two year-old can't really process that kind of change, so he's waking up five to twelve times per night (depending on the night) full on screaming. Also, when you adopt, they tell you to work really hard at not allowing other adults to play a role in the parenting of the kid. We were told to not allow Win to be in children's ministry at Sojourn for the first six months or leave him with our parents. So he was always with us.
Then, we brought Ivory home two months later. She was also waking up in the night. We just felt like we couldn't give her the attention that we wanted... plus she was a GIRL... our first girl.
So much was changing with my boys experiencing this too. At some point, I realized that we were forcing North (who was almost 3) to grow up really quick. I heard myself saying, "Put your own pants on," or "I can't snuggle with you right now, because I have two other kids who can't live without me." It's sad watching sad things happen in your family. North was feeling somewhat abandoned, but I kept thinking, "I don't know how I can muster it up to make you feel better about this."
So, I'm telling this story, because I want to communicate just how much we've appreciated children's ministry in this season. We're so thankful. I remember hearing an announcement one Sunday about the need for workers then coming upstairs to the preschool wing. I saw two workers alone in a class (honestly probably with too many kids). I found myself thinking... "Right now, we need you sooo much. I mean, we actually NEED you." I just wanted to plead with others to serve. Whether you can see it or not, your participation in this ministry is truly the church taking care of the church.
In adopting, I feel like I've been given a load that is way heavier than any I've carried before, but the Lord is using it to perfect me. There's a way that C. S. Lewis describes it in Mere Christianity. He says that there are just big loads in the world. The church carries the load of sin and brokenness in the world, because God first carries those loads and we are his servants.
At SojournKids, we're headed into a new season of commitment and service. Join the service team at your congregation by filling out the application here.