I remember laying on the hay bales in the pasture of my childhood home whispering my dreams to my best buddy Jack. We'd sit under the big blue sky for hours solving the world's problems--hunger, poverty, homelessness, caring for the fatherless. My ideas were a bit far-fetched; whether I was dropping turkey bombs by plane over Ethiopia or transforming my parent's land into a orphanage, Jack, the best four foot-tall, graying sidekick was the best listener a little girl could ask for. He agreed with my assumptions that every problem had a simple fix, and I was surely supposed to solve them all.
Jack was my donkey... last name nonessential for this blog.
I don't know how I first learned that there were children without parents. But for as long as I can remember, I was convinced that such a thing should not exist. With child-like reasoning, I would press my mom about adopting a sibling. I didn't understand at the time why anyone wouldn't WANT to adopt. Up until my 20's I seriously thought everyone should be taking in the world's orphans.
As I grew into my teens and adult years, I thankfully grew in the knowledge of the world and how it works. The biggest problems don't have easy solutions. There are real issues that are not easily addressed. But fortunately, I have a new best friend to tackle these challenges with. I married Chris when I was 21, and though, not as good a listener as Jack, he's wiser, not quite as stubborn, and able to bring clarity with steadfast solutions. While Chris and I could never agree on how many kids to have (as if we humans are REALLY in control of that), we dreamed about adopting. He grew up with foster children, was aware of the many issues kids without parents face, and had a tender heart for the less fortunate.
Our early years of marriage we had planned to live overseas and adopt internationally. Both of those plans were re-routed. We soon had our first biological child, then the second, and the third, with little to no money saved up to pay for an international adoption. Chris and I became entrenched in caring for our pre-schoolers, wondering when we could ever have the energy to add one more thing to our schedule or person to our life.
But God was up to something in our family that we couldn't see at the time. We were in preparation years. Once, we knew of a college student who did not have a home. I sat the kids on the couch and told them our young friend's situation. Our son, who was 5 at the time, adamantly jumped off the couch yelling "I KNOW!!! He can have MY room!" Instantly, three little kids cleared the dressers and the closet to make room for a young man they had met only a few times. For 6 months, our son slept on a toddler mattress in his sisters' room without complaint so that someone else could have his full-size bed. I realized then that it was easy for our kids to share their house, their things, their friendship and their love. As the years have gone by, our oldest daughter has remarked at dinner that "it seems like someone is missing from our family. Our table just isn't as full as it should be." And for at least three years, we have continually heard from the children "when are we going to adopt?" Our youngest child, who has longed for a younger sibling to nurture, scrolled through pictures of orphans and pleaded with us, "I don't care how old. I don't care if we have a boy or a girl--there are too many kids who need a home. Just adopt one."
We shifted our focus from international adoption to local when we realized there was no up-front cost through DCFS. Our heart breaks to know that currently, there are 587 children in Arkansas whose parent's rights have been terminated. As of this month, we have completed all paperwork and training, and are now an "open" family ready to be matched with a little boy.
And so we wait.
But we do not wait like I did as a child. Then I carried the weight of the world on my shoulders. I thought I had to solve everything. I've since found a Savior that is much better at solving big problems. God the Father, has adopted me in His family, and I just can't imagine not extending that love to someone who needs it. Chris, the kids, and I are only one small part of giving one person a safe home.
I'm scared. I'm prepared for this to be the hardest life-change we've encountered.
But we're expecting.
Not just a child; we are expecting to watch God work. I'm expecting God to fulfill the dream He instilled in me 30 years ago. I'm expecting God to equip our family of 5 for the mission we're on.
We're expecting one less child in the system who will find his forever family with us.