Matt and I adopted from Russia in 2006 and 2008, and we just brought home our daughter from Ethiopia last October. We love the family God has put together from all over the world.
When Matt and I decided to adopt, we were overwhelmed with the various processes. I remember pulling out a world map so that we could even begin to think about where we would begin. It was so confusing to consider age range, race, travel, expenses, timeframes, special needs and so much more.
But my husband loves a spreadsheet, and we came up with a spreadsheet to help us determine where God was leading us. Now, I know that people may think that we made this decision with our heads more than our hearts, but I’ve learned that when discerning God’s will, He does not necessarily separate head and heart when making decisions. God can use both our emotions and our reason to guide us to the right path.
I believe this to be true with this decision. The spreadsheet is meant for couples to do separately, or a single person can do it too, but best if you have a BFF to talk it through with. It asks to rank how important it is for you to adopt an infant or a child who is older. It asks you to rank your interest in traveling internationally or staying close to home, and it lists out varying special needs. It covers many different options and gives you and your significant other a great place to start talking.
I believe that God gives us the desires that we have. Some of our desires are selfish or superficial, but that is why it is good to have someone else to talk about the different options – hopefully, someone who will be honest with you about your motivations and ability as a parent. While mapping this all out on a spreadsheet may sound like we sapped all the passion out of the process, I believe it helped us clearly identify the passion that God gave us.
On the adoption options spreadsheet, there is nothing about time and money. This is where I feel families trip up in discerning where to adopt. So many times, we want to determine our next steps by how long the process will take and how much it will cost. My opinion is that God cares very little about time and money. He can slow down and speed up time. And He provides as much money as He wants. (If you don’t know this for yourself, invite a person who raises support for themselves out to lunch to share their stories of God’s provision.)
The final peace we found in the adoption choice we made is that I don’t believe God would have let us mess up on this if we were truly seeking His plan for our lives. Creating a family is a covenant, like marriage. If we continued to follow God’s lead in the process (and His leading was MUCH slower than we wanted), I do not believe He would have let us adopt the wrong child. Regardless of who I have envisioned as my future son or daughter, when praying for children, I ask the Lord, “Let me fall in love with the child you have for me.” I do not doubt at all that He did just that.
Julie Kouri lives in Austin with her husband, Matt and three children. Julie directs A Future and A Hope Adoption and Foster Care Conference and she and Matt lead a community-to-community partnership benefitting orphans and widows in Zeway, Ethiopia called Hope in Ethiopia. Julie loves learning about different cultures, a cold Dr. Pepper, and deep conversations. You can find here blogging at www.waitingwell.org