Ten months ago, my husband and I announced to our friends and family that we were taking the plunge and embarking on that most sacred (and perilous) of journeys—adoption. Of a human. Yes, friends—a real human.
We were so humbled and encouraged by the outpouring of love and support we received. For most of these people, it was the first time they were hearing our news. It may have felt like it was coming out of the blue. But Jamie and I had spent a long time getting accustomed to the idea.
The Decision to Adopt
Practically, we didn’t settle on it until after we’d received word from our doctor that the problems we’d had in trying to conceive were of the permanent variety.
However, our conversations about adoption had started long before we knew that we weren’t able to have children. They had started years before we had even gotten married.
We’d reasoned that adopting would be a thing we’d tackle after we had our own children. And we were satisfied in thinking that our plan was the best plan. (It’s funny how often that turns out not to be true.)
But when we found out that it was our best chance to build our family due to health complications, it was so easy for us to feel peace about it. It was easy for us to say, “OK, let’s do this.”
The Differences of Adoption
The adoption world is a strange one to enter into.
Pregnancy has an understood timeline. Adoption doesn’t.
After you’re done being pregnant, you go home with a tiny, squishy baby. After you’re done with an adoption, you can go home with a twelve year old (who may or may not be tiny and/or squishy).
When you’re pregnant, you have the benefit of knowing the full scope of that baby’s life. When it’s born, you may already have a strong suspicion that he or she is a big David Bowie fan because it kicked a lot whenever you played his music.
With adoption, you hope for as full a picture as you can get, but you also prepare for knowing very little. Is this kid potty trained? Maybe. Was this kid exposed to alcohol in utero? Maybe.
But there’s something really beautiful about all of those unknowns because they add up to a very profound truth.
“I Chose You”
When my husband and I were beginning this journey—months before we’d officially announced it— we sat down with a couple from our local church.
Their family consisted of two biological daughters and one adopted son. And while their advice was wonderful and appreciated, there was one thing that the dad said that really stuck out to us.
He said, “I love my daughters. And I’m thankful to God for them. But there’s something really special about the love I have for my son. Every single aspect of adoption is intentional. Every part requires work. And some of that work is really difficult.
“But on the days when my son struggles with who he is, I get the privilege of being able to say, ‘I chose you. Adopting you took months and years. And every day, I chose you. Before I even knew you, I chose you, and I worked really hard to find you.’”
The Impact on Marriage
One of the unexpected lessons we’ve learned through all of this is that God is immensely kind, and good, and gracious. And we feel so humbled by the fact that he chose us for this specific path.
An unexpected consequence of adopting is that our marriage has grown so much stronger. We’ve chosen to walk through this weird journey together, and because it’s one that so few of our friends and family have gone through, it can feel a little lonely.
But in deciding to grow our family this way, we’ve resolved to choose one another, too. And we have to do it again every day.
We’ve read books, attended trainings, submitted to background checks, had our home inspected, undergone drug tests, and even put together profile books for the purposes of being matched with a birth mother.
And we were very excited.
And then God was like, “I want you to adopt siblings from foster care instead.”
And we were like, “For real?”
And he was like, “Yeah. For really real.”
And we were very excited.
Starting with Foster Care
We start our foster care classes next week. We’re expecting them to be hard as our agency works to prepare us for some very ugly realities. For example, did you know that there are more instances of PTSD present in children and teens in foster care than in soldiers?
After we’re done with our classes, we’ll undergo another home study. (Because apparently, we can’t get enough of those.) If all goes according to plan, we’ll be licensed foster parents. From that point, we’ll start waiting for a phone call.
When we learned about our infertility, we did the waiting-for-a-call thing before. Only that time, we received a call from our doctor saying that we couldn’t have kids.
This time, we’ll be waiting for a call where the other line will say, “So I’ve got some kids here. . .” That call will be also be scary. Just like the infertility call, it will also end in us crying. It will also interrupt our day and set the course for the rest of our lives.
But man, are we excited to get that call.
Jamie and Adriana Howard are (sort of) high school sweethearts who have been married for ten years. They are former youth pastors, and they both currently work for a non-profit—him as a programmer and her as an editor. They live outside of Atlanta with their two pups, and they’re working to grow their family through adoption.
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