The decision process for this next adoption has been far more sobering than the last. Three years ago we were fueled by optimism and opportunity. We read books about the potential “side effects” of adoption and even anticipated fielding some of those, but the estimated cost seemed little.
We were young and wild and free.
The hardest part of Eden & Caleb’s adoption was the footrace to get them. We had our share of medical bills, parasite purging, poo-smearing out of anger and consequential shoulder shrugs from children not used to authority, but after six months it felt like they had been in our home since birth. Post-placement was relatively seamless, compared to most.
You might think that would catapult us into another adoption, bright-eyed and bushy-tailed. To the contrary, the cost this time around has been the front-runner in my mind (and I’m not referring to the very real financial costs). I found myself playing the statistical game I’ve heard so many voice:
“We have two healthy, delightful, obedient children … why tip the scales? They love each other and love us. Let’s stop while we’re ahead and just put all of our eggs in the fertility basket. Heck, we haven’t even really isolated the problem with my infertility. I’m still young. I might very well be one homeopathic remedy away from a biological baby who is less of a wild card.
“We checked the adoption box, right? Met a need. Saved a kid. Two, in fact. Check – check.”
Except there was no box to check. The catalyst for our adoption was not guilt or stale desire to meet a need. No–at the risk of sounding trite–it was Him. Somewhere along the way we brushed up against His love. We had an encounter with a Man who has left a mark on how we see the trajectory of our lives. And we can’t go back.
The unique calling He’s given us, the Hagerty’s, is starting to take shape.
I’ve often tried on different “callings” in my mind to see how they fit. The past ten years have provided us relationships with people of all shapes, sizes and callings. Gone are the days where sharing a taste in clothes and boys brought girlfriends together.
We have multiple friends who have moved into one of the rougher neighborhoods in inner city Richmond. They embrace neighbors as friends and casually but intentionally share the love of Jesus with them, while not neglecting their tangible needs. I have another dear friend on staff with Young Life, pouring out the waking (and sleeping) hours of her life so that lost high school kids can know eternal life. Doctors, lawyers, accountants, musicians, baristas, investors, business owner friends–deeply-activated by worshiping through their work. Friends in China, Africa serving as missionaries to the poorest of the poor. And still another with a passion for creating space for people, old and young, to taste new encounters with God in prayer.
I’m provoked and inspired by every single one of those callings. I see His fingerprints all over them. I’ve even tried some of them out. But the more time I spend getting to know this man Jesus, the more I see that each one of His own not only carries a different burden from His heart, but has a solitary calling to live that out.
Me? I was shot out of college’s cannon full of expectation for my life. Newly-wed and childless, I couldn’t have guessed that almost a decade later I would taste for the first time what it felt like to be deployed by God. And all other experiences of calling would seem to fade into the background amidst this central line-item on my life’s CV.
Adoption, at first to us, was a means to grow our family by also caring for children who needed homes. We were excited to start a family and had a heart for the fatherless. A good fit, it seemed.
In the past three years, since we first “conceived”, something has changed though. What I thought was going to be an appendix my life — parenting — and what I perceived was one of many things that caught my eye — orphans — has taken center stage. I never knew being a mom would make me feel so alive. And I never anticipated that the fatherless would so enrapture my thinking that I might be willing to completely overturn the picture of a traditional family I’d so gravitated towards.
Had we stopped at Eden and Caleb, the picture of my traditional family might still be within my grasp. They’re incredible. Toss a few biological kids into the mix, and we’ve got ourselves a beautiful, multi-racial, modern American Dream. (Please note, I of course realize that not everyone with a “normal”-looking family is pursuing the American dream — I am just letting you into my own–at times–desire to score that dream.)
But because, in adopting these two, I “happened upon” the nexus of where God’s heartbeat and my own unique make-up overlapped, I knew it would probably not be our last adoption. Deployment, when and where I least expected it.
But I’ve been timid to move forward. Even the strength of God’s calling us to these children, this country, and at this time, does not drown out the fears and insecurities I have about adding two more orphans to our little well-oiled machine. Real life stories of women I’ve walked beside through their adoptions have sobered me. It’s one thing to take a missions trip to a foreign country and risk the potential health hazards and time away from family and friends. It’s another to add two children to your home that will have a forever, and daily, impact on your family. “Success”, how many might define it, is not a guarantee.
And almost every day since we signed on to pursue this next adoption I’ve had moments of being strapped by fear.
But the alternative for us is bleak. To try and secure “the best possible playing field” for this calling is like sand in my hands. It’s a falsehood to believe, now that we’ve had a few months of respite from intense storms, that I can choose-my-own-adventurous way to security.
I want God, not safety. I want His plans for my life, more than I want a life of ease. (At least most days.)
So this time around, instead of spending every waking minute chasing papers, I’m moving a little more slowly. Not because of that fear but because quiet interludes of sitting at the Father’s feet seem even more essential.
It’s here that He whispers, you were made for this.
Some lay awake at night dreaming about how to get water to the thirsty. Others log hours in their prayer closets praying for those same sick bodies to be healed. Still others are called to worship God in the marketplace, and on top of that, spend their time dreaming up business opportunities to fund food and clothing for these who are fatherless.
But me, my heart is to be their mommy.
My reach will not be as broad. My money may not go as far. And my time will be isolated on just a few. But God has invited us to do this, now, at this time. Who can measure the infinite worth of a life (or two)–given wings by the love from a mother or father? And for that reason I can’t just stop here.
And so…we move forward. With trembling hands, and expectant hearts.