“Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.” James 1.27
This is why we adopted. How can you get more clear than that? God says religion, this whole Christian thing, is about taking care of the helpless.
When my husband and I decided we were ready to have children and wanted to do that through adoption, we researched all of our options. We wanted an infant for our first child and felt that the greatest need was in international or foster care adoption. After researching foster care infant adoption, we decided we wanted to go international this time around. Social workers we talked with told us that we could foster an infant for up to 2 years before he/she is up for adoption or placed back with the birth family. For our first child, we didn’t want to wait 2 more years and then start the process all over again. We wanted a child now though we still hope to foster, Lord willing, for our next child.
We began the process of adopting our son from Ethiopia. The entire process took 18 months and brought us to our then 8-month-old baby boy in February 2010. For me, and I think for my husband, the hardest part of the wait was the Christmas before we met him. As we near the holidays, I am reminded how difficult they were for me then.
Christmas 2009, we had received our referral, we knew who our son was, we became his legal guardians on December 16, but we still had to wait. We had to wait for our travel date in February, for paperwork to be pushed, for legalities that didn’t seem important enough to keep our son in an orphanage halfway around the world for another minute.
Christmas night. My husband and I were driving home from my in-laws after a long day of splitting time between our families. I broke down. And cried. And cried.
The hardest part was at my in-laws house as we sat around watching our nieces and nephews open their gifts. Once kids come into your family, holidays become mostly about them, as you know. Both of my husband’s siblings had kids already and each had a child the same age as our son, the son we had but didn’t have. So, my husband and I sat on the couch and watched these babies open gifts, play, get excited, be loved. We watched their parents delight in their smiles and laughs. And, our hearts broke. All we could think about was that big-eyed boy in the photos and the fact that he didn’t have us yet.
Perhaps there is a reader who is there right now? As we go through this holiday season, my heart goes out to you. Knowing that it probably won’t ease your pain or your longing, I still want to tell you that you’ll get there. You’ll hold that child in your arms, and you’ll belong to each other in every sense. The wait will end, the process will be complete, you’ll arrive home with that bundle of life, and you’ll know that every second, every piece of paperwork, every phone call, every prayer, every tear was so much more than worth it.
Because this moment cannot be explained. This moment is enough to fill a thousand Christmases with joy.
Laurel has been married to her husband Chris for 3 years. They adopted their first child almost a year ago from Ethiopia and plan to begin the process of adopting through foster care in the next couple of months. Chris is a pastor, and Laurel is a stay-at-home mom. You can follow their story at God Found Us You.