I've been thinking about this post for some time. How do I passionately yet delicately express the burning in my heart on the topic of adopting a child with severe special needs? While it is my desire for grace to meet truth, most of you know that I am shamelessly authentic. That being said, I am unapologetic for the fervor you may encounter here (a-hem).
Seamus and I are currently in the process of adopting a little girl in China who has Down syndrome and a congenital heart defect. Entering this journey was not taken lightly. Adopting a child with DS has been on our hearts for years. Much discussion and prayer has centered around this matter. We finally came to a place of knowing that God wanted this for our lives. The struggle has been real, the one where our flesh recounts all the reasons it's not a good idea.
Do we know what we're getting in to? What will life be like with a "mentally disabled" child? Are we aware that she will likely live with us for the rest of our lives? How will this affect our current children, now and after we are gone? How can we afford the therapies and heart surgeries? How do we know that God is really "calling us" to this? Every day life will look so different. I'm not sure I have the patience or stamina to deal. You see, all the questions that are being asked of us now are questions we first asked of ourselves. The doubts were real, but God's revelation is always greater.
First and probably foremost, this child is WORTHY. She doesn't deserve to know love any less than another. She's as deserving as any of our 5 children at home. She happens to have been born in China, with a serious disease and an extra chromosome. The story of her abandonment is tragic and the world says she's not valuable. But I'm here to tell you... she was made in the image of her creator and He has chosen her as royalty. God-willing, she will come home soon to a family who adores her, and she will wear a beautiful crown, because in the eyes of God she is a flawless princess. She deserves a loving family, and she deserves to know the love of Christ, simply because He says so.
Second, my life is not mine at all. It was given to me by a gracious creator who commands that I lay it down while carrying a cross, and promises eternal joy in return. I ponder the sacrifice of Christ's own life for me and I am immediately overwhelmed with gratitude. There's nothing more joyful than being able to share that miracle with others. The most tangible way to live out this gratitude is to give my own life for another, only a miniscule example of God's true love for us. Will this new life be hard? Will I likely shed tears on a daily basis? Will I lose my dream of retirement and a chance to spend my last years alone with my husband? Undoubtedly. Will it be worth it? Sure as heaven. This life is only a vapor, gone too quickly to hold on to anything meaningless. Moths and rust will destroy everything this carnal life offers. But when we breath our last, a new life awaits. And what WILL come with us are souls. Souls are what matter here and now. So until the day I travel home for good, God, please give me the strength to surrender my life for the sake of others, gripping to the reality that we will soon be in glory where there are no tears, no pain, plenty of time for rest and comfort.
(By the way... While I believe my life is not my own and happily lay it down, I simultaneously happen to know that the choice we are making will actually result in a life more fulfilled, more full of joy than ever before. Harder than ever, but worth every moment. I can't wait to testify to that joy first-hand, once she's home.)
Third, my God is a promise-keeper. It really all boils down to one simple consideration. We either believe God or we don't. We can ask all the questions we want, but at the end of the day the only reason we are able to adopt this child is because we believe that God is who He says he is. "I am." The truest statement that ever was. The great "I am," the One who created this universe and knit Maggie's soul together promises never to leave or forsake us. He promises a life of hardship in this world but a world He has already overcome. He promises that His plans for us are good. He promises power to the weak and strength to the powerless. He promises that nothing can separate us from the love of God. He promises that we need not fear, for He goes before us. He promises eternal life as a free gift. He promises to be a Father to the fatherless. He promises that victory is ours!
He also promises that His word is true. Scripture is our test against whether or not we are doing what He wants. We know He has called us to this adoption because His word reveals it. Our default is to step forward in faith, through His command to care for the orphan and ask God to close the door if it's not His will for our life. If the Bible urges believers to mimic God's love for us, that's exactly what we are "called" to do. When we pray regarding this adoption or any ministry opportunity, we ask God to halt our progress if it's not His plan. He has done this many times in our lives. But as for Maggie, well, the Bible tells us to love her unabashedly. So we will, until the Lord tells us otherwise.
Our questions have proven shallow, while God has given us a more courageous vision than we had before. We are now able to step forward in faith, confident in truth, remembering that there is no fear in love. While it is unimportant (and frankly unbiblical) for me to defend our path, I do hope, through this post, that someone will realize God's unconditional love for us and believe it so bravely that His compassion would be materialized throughout this hurting world He so dearly cherishes.