FOCUS ON WHAT MATTERS
Today’s blog was written by a Katelyn’s Fund friend Kansas Fergen.
What happens if it doesn’t work out? This very question was asked while we were in the process of adopting one of our older children. Our family was called to walk the road of adoption in a not-so-typical way, and this question made us think about why we were adopting in the first place. When most people think of adoption, the first thought is adopting an infant or younger child, which we had experienced adopting twice before. However, this question was never asked when adopting our younger two children. This time, God was calling our family to something different, something that was unknown and, some would say, “risky.” God called us to adopt two older children from two other families that were adopted once before. We would become their second adoptive family and not walk a “typical” adoption journey.
I always knew we wanted to adopt and made this clear when dating my now-husband, Danny. We chose to adopt before even knowing if we could have biological children or not; we just knew this was what God wanted for our family. We adopted our oldest at nine months of age and then, about a year later, had our first biological son. We then had our biological daughter before walking the adoption journey once again. This time did not go as smoothly as the first, and we lost our adopted son after having him for almost a week. Hours before his birth mother’s rights were terminated, she changed her mind, and our world was shattered. But God, in His gracious love, had other plans for our growing family. A month after heartache, we got the call to adopt our son at 12 days old, and our family experienced a joy that came straight from God. After a few years, we found ourselves praying over what God had in store for our family. We were very open to the idea of becoming foster parents or possibly adopting again, but we had no idea what God was going to call us to next. We were asked to adopt an eight-year-old boy that another family had already adopted, and he could no longer remain in their home. It was nothing other than the Lord’s leading and the Spirit working in our lives that brought us to this point. All the details fell into place, and our eight-year-old son joined our family. Within three weeks, We had no clue what we were doing when adopting an older child, but we were walking in obedience, and we truly believed it was for the best. In the years to come, we realized the hurt he had experienced and how we had a vital role in his healing, providing him with exactly what he needed.
There is a great need for children to be adopted who don’t fit the “typical” adoption profile. The child(ren) may be older, have a medical condition, have experienced emotional or physical trauma, be in foster care, have siblings also needing to be adopted, or like our situation, have been adopted once before. When a family comes to me asking about adoption and where to start, I know they are asking more about the process, but I usually stop them and start by asking, Why are you choosing to adopt in the first place? Once you know this, it guides and directs all your decisions moving forward.
The question of “why” was asked to us by our counselor shortly after the adoption of our older son. This question became our “ah-ha” moment that changed everything and how we now respond when others come to us. We found ourselves sitting across from our counselor, struggling to figure things out, wondering how to make things better. As we listed off all the things we were experiencing and working with, he repeatedly pointed us back to this question Why did you choose to say yes and adopt your son in the first place? Our response was simple, yet we were the ones making it harder without even realizing it. Above all else, we chose to adopt to provide our children with a family that loved them unconditionally for who they were. We wanted to give them a safe home and allow them to rest, heal, and grow into who they were to be. Lastly, we wanted them to know and experience the love of Jesus and choose to walk with Him personally. We had other reasons beyond this, but these three reasons were the foundation of everything else. So as we sat before our counselor, listing our struggles and asking questions, he kept pointing us back to those three reasons. You see, we had expectations that we didn’t even realize. They were not intentional, but they kept us from attaching and bonding with our son. We expected him to feel the same as our other children; we expected him to be able to cope, process, and respond as they did, and we expected it on our timeline. Because of our expectations, he was not able to heal as fast. We were trying too hard to force things on him, so he put a wall up to protect himself. This response is typical for adopted kids; all they know is how to defend and protect themselves. So we had to lay down our expectations and focus on our reasons for WHY we adopted him. We couldn’t plan or expect him to respond the same way as our other children, and if he did, that was just an extra blessing. We wanted him to know that our family loves him unconditionally, that our home will always be his safe place, and that Jesus loves him deeply and has an incredible great plan for his life. If we felt we were providing him with those three things, that’s all that mattered; everything else was extra. We were trying too hard to focus on the “extra” that we were missing what mattered. Once we changed this, he changed, and our family dynamic changed forever. As scary and challenging as the unknowns of adoption can be, when we keep our eyes on Jesus and the work He is doing in the life of our child(ren), it always works out. It’s not a question of, “what if it doesn’t work out?” it’s ‘How will God work this out?” It may not work out according to our plans, but it always does to His.
Since adopting our eight-year-old son, we had another biological son and adopted our daughter at 11 from another adoptive family. She shares a very similar story to her older brother, and we are confident that God chose them to be siblings for a very specific reason. He orchestrates the most beautiful stories to fulfill His purpose, and we are seeing this unfold in both of their lives as they grow older and share their stories. Since adopting our daughter, we’ve had one more biological son, which completes our family in this season where God has called us. We know that God is not done working in our family, and our hearts are prepared for what’s to come! Adoption can be challenging and messy, but it’s one of the most fulfilling and beautiful experiences we’ve walked through together. For our family, We are stronger together because of it. My encouragement to families choosing to say ‘yes” to the hard and walk the not-so-typical road is to be ready for God to change you, maybe even more than your adopted child. He works in our hearts just as much as theirs. Be prepared to focus on what really matters and set your expectations aside. Our children expect nothing of us; they just want to know and feel our love. Our role is simple yet exactly what our children need, and God knows that. He calls us to be their parents, and He equips us. Cling to that truth.