We began to pray about what really living the gospel would look like and then my husband told me he felt like we should pray about adopting
I'm not sure if there is a "typical" adoption story, but I know ours was not. I did not grow up dreaming about and knowing I would adopt. My husband and I did not have problems with infertility...in fact our first and our last biological babies were both big surprises! Adopting was not on our radar, it was not something we discussed or thought about. It was something that other people did.
Both my husband and I grew up in Christian homes and were at church every time the doors were opened and sometimes when they weren't. I was a pastor's kid and my husband was a deacon's kid. I went to a Christian college in TN and met my husband at church my senior year. About a year and a half after meeting, we married, and almost two years later welcomed our first little surprise into the world. We were good, obedient, Southern, Bible-Belt Christians. We went to church Sunday morning, Sunday night AND Wednesday. We sang in choir and taught Sunday School and did all the "right" things. Twelve years after marrying, we had four children and WE WERE THROUGH...my husband had the scars to prove it!!!
And then, we read some books that wrecked us..."Crazy Love" by Francis Chan and "Radical" by David Platt among them. We realized that we LOOKED great, but that we were playing a part and were not REALLY living the gospel. We began to pray about what really living the gospel would look like and began making some really big changes both with our time and financially...amongst those was when my husband told me he felt like we should pray about adopting. I thought he had lost his mind! I was home schooling four children and teaching at a tutorial and I was stretched to my limits...but I prayed. After several months and many discussions, we felt led to begin the process of adoption...which my husband compares to stripping naked and running through the streets of the city.
We chose to do international adoption because we already had a relationship with the orphanage that we eventually did adopt from. I cannot explain why, but for us the process of adoption went so much smoother than any of the people we knew that had adopted. We made the decision to adopt on Nov. 5, 2011 and on Nov. 5, 2012, we were in a courtroom in Uganda petitioning to adopt our daughter. In exactly 12 months, God provided all the funding, the travel, the documentation and a sympathetic judge and by Nov. 9th, we were blessed with a 4 year old little girl from Uganda.
The road was not easy. We sacrificed a lot to raise the money and our daughter was less than thrilled with her new family for awhile. Our oldest child was very angry that we were bringing another mouth to feed into an already crowded family. Our "quick" trip to Uganda stretched into a six week stay when the Secretary in charge of passports refused to come into his office because he was under investigation and we could not get our daughter's passport or permission to come into America. We had months of daily, screaming fits as she tried to assimilate into her new life and our youngest biological child (who is just 5 months older than her) went through some medical issues brought on by stress from the adoption.
The road will never be easy. Adoption ALWAYS comes out of grief. Our daughter has questions about why our other children grew in my tummy but she did not. She wants to know why her Uganda mommy couldn't take care of her. She feels rejection already. Someday, we will have to explain to her the pain that surrounded her biological parents signing away their rights. She struggles with learning, probably from 18 months of severe malnutrition. Her social skills and motor skills are not as developed as her siblings and she often cries and wonders why she is so different. As parents, we often find ourselves frustrated at her lack of warmth toward us or that she struggles following rules that our biological children have been obeying since they were toddlers. Our feelings get hurt because she rejects our love at times or because our love doesn't always seem to be enough.
But adoption has taught me a beautiful lesson. For a year, we prayed for this little girl. We didn't always know her name or her face, but we knew God had placed her in our hearts. We loved her and prepared for her and rejoiced the first time we saw her picture. We could not wait to wrap our arms around her and pour out love on her. She....was not so happy to know us! In fact, she wanted NOTHING to do with us! For two weeks, I would go visit her in the toddler house and while 19 other precious children would crawl all over me and beg for my attention, she sat in a corner and refused to even talk to me. But we went back every day. We kept pursuing her...because we loved her. It had nothing to do with how she treated us...because she rejected us. But we knew that she was ours and we didn't give up. Eventually, she would come and sit in my lap, and then she let me take her on a walk. One day, she took my hand and smiled at me...and today, she calls me Momma.
That is what Christ did for us. That is why adoption is so beautiful...Christ did not wait for us to earn His love...He just loved us, because we were His and HE kept loving us despite our rejection and sin and selfishness...and eventually, we were drawn in to His family...We became children of God! Sometimes, even though we are now part of that family forever, we still fight against him and still reject that love...but He just keeps on loving us right where we are at.
Every time I look into my daughter's beautiful dark eyes and rub lotion into her chocolate skin, I am reminded of the ridiculous, crazy love that Christ has for us and I am so, so grateful that He has allowed us to understand, just a little bit, what that love is like.
We are forever changed and forever blessed because of the gift of adoption! It is not easy and it is not always fun. It is guaranteed to bring heartache and discomfort and pain...but it is also the most beautiful, heart stretching, spirit growing experience I can ever imagine and I feel honored that God allowed us to be a part of His story in this way.
The Neely's beautiful family!
Star, I love your heartfelt words as you shared your adoption story! What a beautiful reflection of God's love for each of us and what a beautiful family you have that God knit together! Thank you for sharing.
As with any adoption story, there are no two adoptions that are the same. We would love to hear your adoption story from a Christian perspective. Some families choose international adoption while other families choose domestic adoption (private or foster care). If you have adopted and would like us to feature your adoption story on Adoption Story Wednesday, please go to our Share Your Story page to submit to Adoption Strong.
“However motherhood comes to you, it’s a miracle.” Valerie Harper