I Have A Dream…

Open your mouth for the mute, for the rights of all who are destitute. Open your mouth, judge righteously, defend the rights of the poor and needy.” Proverbs 31: 8-9

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The past several days have been pretty quiet around our house — both with our adoption process and in general.  Trey has just returned from a weeklong mission to Guatemala, and we have both come down with nasty colds.  Mine began as a bad sore throat and cough over the weekend, which has turned into completely losing my voice all day yesterday and today.  I was sent home from work (at our church) as soon as I arrived yesterday, and I’m staying home today as well — including a trip to the doctor.

I had been so looking forward to worship yesterday morning.  I knew I felt bad, but I was really surprised when I opened my mouth in the car on the way to church, to sing a line of praise with the radio, only to find:  There were no words.  I had no voice.  For some reason, it really hit home for me to think about the “voiceless” all over the world, and how they must have to worship: in spirit, by faith, and in silence.

In my short time without a voice, I have also thought about all the children in the world who might physically be able to cry out, but in reality, they have no voice.  No say in the matter of who gets to take them and where they go and what will happen to them…

In honor of them, and the fact that, even without a voice, I (and we) do still have a voice, I’d like to share with you something that is on my heart.

In the words of MLK:  “I have a dream.”

It’s a simple declaration, really, in the middle of all these updates about our personal adoption process… but I’m learning that processing what adoption means to me is all a part of that journey, too.  So I’d like to thank you, sincerely and in advance, for allowing me to “open my mouth.”

I have this teeny tiny little, big powerful important dream…

That more fostering and adoption would be present in our community, in our church, and in our culture.

Not just in theory, of course — but really.  And not that people would stop having babies biologically.  (In that case, I would be horrified.  And sad.)  Just that MORE fostering and adoption would begin taking place….

This isn’t a dream that’s mine to claim.  Many people share this dream and have fought for it for years.  I’m just one small voice added to the battle cry — but I write this because I know that every prayer and every voice matters to make it louder.

I know you guys know this stuff.  You know the need, and you know about God’s heart for the fatherless.  You know that there are, in fact, MANY “causes” out there worthy of our support and action.  I also realize that not every one of us can be passionately on fire about every single one of them (many things, yes, but not everything).  In His sovereingty, God created each of us uniquely, purposefully giving us different gifts and passions to serve and expand His kingdom as we work together as the body of Christ.

I don’t want to be this flippant, cause-championing cheerleader just because all of a sudden I’m personally invested in something.   The thing is, there is a MUCH greater purpose involved…

It’s taken me a while to see that ALL of our individual stories are part of a much larger story in all of this.  In my own life, my personal relationship with God really began to grow simultaneously alongside a deepening interest and involvement in missions.  I started to realize God’s worldwide mission of redeeming all men back to himself, which includes the orphan, the abandoned, the unreached, the voiceless — and the privileged.  I have only just begun to see how adoption is on God’s magnificent, loving heart.  He is the father to the fatherless, and He is our adoptive Father… the one who does not “just” save and redeem us, but who actually brings us into His family!  “Not the children of the flesh who are the children of God, but the children of the promise [who] are counted as offspring” (Romans 9:8).  The recognition of our own spiritual Adoption is inseparable from the living out of our Christian lives.  We are told that the “poor” will always be among us — but the even bigger truth to wrap our minds around is that we ourselves are among the depraved… broken and in need of a Savior.  Saved, and yet also given a Father…

Like the quote says at the bottom of this site:  “We adopt not because we are rescuers.  No, we adopt because we are rescued.”

To be honest, there are FAR more educated, inspiring, well-spoken, and well-researched people out there who can build this case much more effectively than I could ever attempt.  You guys are smart, too.  The statistics are abundantly available if you want to know the where’s and what’s.  The Bible is FULL — cover to cover — with the why’s.  And, Lord knows, there are bookoos* of foster and adoptive moms in the blogosphere who are plethoras of knowledge and experience when it comes to the how-to’s.

So, here’s what I’m NOT going to say:

“Could you find room in your heart to foster or adopt?”

Or any other similarly stated proposition.  (I have to say, I really dislike those kind of questions!)

For one, because I’m not going to question the amount of love in your heart.  I know plenty of people who have plenty enough room for love in their hearts to foster or adopt a child they did not conceive.  (Maybe they just haven’t thought about it before, or maybe they didn’t know they could create a family outside of the “norm.”  Or maybe they are called simply to love the family they already have.)  And, two, because it’s not — and can’t ever be — about GUILT.  It’s not about “should.”  (It’s not even fully about compassion.)

My charge, instead, would be for you to seek God and ask Him to search your heart… to reveal what He might be calling you to.  To point out those “rooms” in your heart reserved for scary questions and possibilities and what continuing to live out the Gospel in your own life might mean.  (These aren’t cookie-cutter rooms that look the same for everyone, by the way.  And they definitely aren’t Pinterest.)  I believe in the power of suggestion, whole-heartedly, but I believe even so much more in the power of the Holy Spirit.  So, if you’re still reading and feel moved to accept: I challenge you to pray intentionally about fostering and adoption.  I’m praying for you, too.  I’m praying for my church, and I’m praying for THE Church.

I know I don’t know everything (or, truth be told, nearly enough).  I’m still learning all the time…  But here’s the [over-simplified] unavoidable truth:  There are many, MANY children out there who desperately, genuinely need a forever home.

Can you imagine the gospel-casting culture that would be created if this was no longer “out of the ordinary”??  If more and more people came to understand both the theological aspect and the missional aspect of adoption?  That fostering and adoption aren’t just for those other people who are “into” that sort of thing?  But that “adoption is about an entire culture within our churches… the church, an entity that transcends both blood kinship and legal fictions” (Russell Moore, Adopted For Life)?  The church as the “justice-loving, gospel-proclaiming community she was called to be” (Micah Jelinek)?  This makes me so excited!!!

No, not everyone is going to be called to adopt.  On the other hand, YES, you might be.  And it’s easier said than done.  But while we here have innumerable freedoms and opportunities, I also believe that many times we are operating with limited vision.  (Too often.)  We don’t even conceive that God MIGHT be calling us to something we’ve never even thought about‚ and, in fact, we’ve never asked Him.  Our affinity to remain incubated in our comfort zones, perhaps our unintentional stereotypes, our fears, get in the way…

I think it might be possible that one common misconception about adoption is that adoption is only for certain “types” of families.  Like couples who already have biological children.  Or couples who have suffered (tremendously) with infertility.  I personally believe that any way God orchestrates adoption is absolutely beautiful.  To me, either way is equally valuable and significant.  But I mention this simply because it might not often be considered that adoption is also for couples who choose to adopt “first” and then might still decide to have biological kids one day… (like us).

And single ladies: There is a huge place — and need! — for you here as well!  We learned in our foster-parenting classes that oftentimes (due to particular situations of abuse, etc.), single women are the most wanted and ideal situation for a foster baby or child.  Because, sometimes, it simply isn’t wise for there to be a male presence in the household at all.  Just check out the blog of this amazing, single, full-time foster parent in her mid-20s, who inspires me to no end (and even let me write a guest post here on her blog back in March!) – Seeing Joy.  And for a single woman who desires a child and chooses to adopt — is the love she provides not far greater than the situation from which the child might come?  Is it above God to create a family in that way?

So the misconceptions do exist, but sometimes all it takes is simply becoming more informed to start turning the ship around.  And even then, no amount of facts or figures can truly represent the stories of real people who have accepted this call.  There are REAL families who are filled to capacity with the love God has blessed them with through fostering and adoption… And REAL families who have traveled a long, hard road — and yet still rejoice.  I am incredibly humbled by their devotion to Christ.  By their pursuit of Him above their pursuit of adoption…

There are a LOT of complicated (and quite sensitive) issues swirling throughout this topic.  There’s a lot of opinions even without voicing a dream!  But instead of avoiding it altogether, I have an even greater fear:

If this doesn’t become a part of our conversations, there isn’t much hope for it becoming part of our culture.

It all starts with vision.  It starts long before the how’s and what if’s, before the words “can’t” and “not (for) me.”  It starts with the knowledge of what’s yet to be set right and the courage, by faith, to consider your own unique role in God’s redemptive plans — whatever that might be.

The Bible presents a dream for all believers, too: that one day “He will wipe away every tear from our eyes.”  Until that becomes a reality (and I believe that it will), what do we do with the grace of our identity and inheritance in Christ here on earth?  I have to ask myself that, too.

Good intentions are never enough, and there is a lot left to learn… a lot left to be done.

But I have a dream… and you’re in it. :)

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* {I literally had to look up how to spell “bookoos“; turns out, it’s a Southern thing (I knew it!)… from the French word “beaucoup.”  Ha!  Fun fact for the day.}

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One response

  1. Pingback: The Journey to Here (An Honest Account): Part 2 | Glenhams Grow

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