October 5, 2011

WNTS: Just Adopt

“If you want children so badly, just adopt,” a friend told me.

“Just adopt. If only it were that simple,” I thought to myself.

For me, it was never a question of if we would adopt. It was a question of when. I grew up in a family surrounded by adoption – there were adopted persons, adoptive parents, and birthparents in my family. Before we married, we had plans to have a few biological children and then adopt more children. I had plans for 12 total. My husband agreed, but was a little skeptical about the number! I would read, “God sets the lonely in families” (Psalm 68:6a), and was sure He was talking about my family.

When we started trying to conceive, we trusted that God was in control and that the children would come along in His timing. Months turned into a year. Years started adding up. And then comments from well-meaning friends and family started piling on. The hardest one for me was “just adopt.”

Why would “just adopt” be so difficult for someone who had always planned on adopting?

It wasn't my plan. I hadn't ever imagined my life that way. I like to plan and arrange and, yes, control things. This wasn't the way it was supposed to be in my mind. “Just adopt” required surrender of my will.

It isn't easy. Adoption involves a lot of decisions (infant, older child, domestic, international, open, closed, etc.), a lot of paperwork, and a lot of preparation before you can be even approved to adopt. Then there's the waiting (for social workers, for a referral, for the child to come home, for court, etc.) Oftentimes, there are changes of plans, which again required surrender of my will.

It doesn't cure infertility.
This is the most difficult one. I've heard it said, “Adoption cures childlessness, but not infertility.” Adoption would place a child in my arms, but it wouldn't fill my barren womb. That's not to imply that adoption is “less than” in any way. A child we adopted would still be our child in every way, but I would still miss out on the experiences of pregnancy and delivery and everything that goes along with it. My longing to conceive and bear children was different than my desire to adopt. Completing one of those dreams would not fulfill the other.

Adoption is the path many couples longing to be parents take, but it isn't “just adopt.”

The pain of infertility is eased by the healing hand of God on a person's heart, not by placing a child in a person's arms.

We did adopt. We are still infertile. They are two separate identities that can harmonize when approached as such.

Mary enjoys pursuing health and fitness and has a secret love of fashion. She loves to sing, especially when she and her husband have the opportunity to lead others in worship of our magnificent God.