The Thing With Feathers
I’m not exactly full of hope these days.
About 10 months ago, we completed our home study, a major step in this difficult process of adoption. Since then, we’ve had five birth families choose us as a potential adoptive family but each time they’ve chosen another adoptive family. FIVE. That’s an average of 1 birth family every 2 months. Every phone call is pregnant with the possibility of a little one joining our home. We pray, make tentative plans, and keep our mouths shut around the kids. We learned early on to exclude them from this precarious part of the process.
One day, my 6 year-old daughter overheard one of these particular phone conversations. Rather than trying to evade her honest questions, we opted to share with her and our son about a potential baby. We thought that the kiddos could join us in praying for this baby and for the birth family as they made their decision. When we learned that we had not been chosen, we gently told our kids that God had another family to love and parent this baby. Based on their reactions, you would have thought someone had been bludgeoned to death in our home. The screaming and wailing that ensued left my husband and me in shock. And the theological comments that surfaced left me speechless, “Why won’t God answer our prayers?! GOD MUST HATE US!” And from my 4-year old son, “We’re NEVER gonna get a baby! No one will ever choose us!” Insert even more wailing. We did our best to assure them of God’s love for them, for this sweet baby, for the birth and adoptive families.
Little did I know that I would echo the cries of our children months later. This weekend, in fact.
We got another phone call last week. This was the most promising phone call we’ve had to date. Seemed like a perfect scenario. Seemed like we might actually be chosen this time. Seemed like perfect timing. Seemed like God was moving and leading and providing a baby for us. Twenty-four hours later…another adoptive family was chosen.
This was the hardest “no” for me thus far. Maybe I’m weary of this process. Maybe I’m weary of “no” being the answer to every request. Maybe I’m weary of reading the countless success stories, knowing that we are not among them. Maybe I’m weary of rejection.
I found myself crying out to God, “Why won’t you answer our prayers?! Don’t You care about our dreams? Didn’t You lead us here? This is too much to handle emotionally. I’m DONE.” We’re not asking for the American dream here. We don’t want a bigger house. More money. More power. More glory.
We are simply asking the Lord to bring a baby with Down syndrome into our home. A soul who might not otherwise know the love of a core family. This is more than a wish or a dream. For us, this is a calling, an act of obedience to pursue what He has put in our hearts to do.
Or has He?
I have really begun to wrestle with whether this journey is for us. I’m beginning to wonder if we’ve misread Him all this time. I’m beginning to question my ability to trust His leading. I’m starting to wonder if God gives me dreams rooted in His, leads me down the path toward fulfilling those dreams, and then watches from a distance, laughing when they’re all dead-ends.
Go ahead. Throw all of your theological comments my way. I’m a former preacher/missionary kid and I graduated with four years of Bible college. I know all the “right” answers. I get that God is good. I get that He is Love. I believe in His sovereignty. But so help me if I hear one more time that “God works all things out for the good of those who love Him” (out of context, by the way) or “God’s timing is perfect” (while you hold your own baby) or “He has just the right baby for you” (false hope). Those are Band-aids for a gaping wound. Please spare me.
So, with all this rejection, what the heck we are doing on this journey anyway? Can I trust the Lord with every closed-door? Every dead-end? What if we never get to parent a child with Ds? What then?
Today (when I’m not too angry), I’m asking God to help me find rest in the mystery of His character. His ways are unknown, unsearchable. He does not need to tell me “yes”, even when I ask for the most noble of things (or babies) with the most noble intentions.
He owes me no explanation.
He owes me nothing.
But He beckons me to HOPE. Not to hope in a possible baby. Not to hope in answers. But to HOPE in Him.
Does this way of thinking help? Sometimes. Sometimes it frustrates me. But today, ironically, the knowledge of the Mystery has helped me to be a bit more settled in my spirit. I still struggle with how to rest in Him with the unknown but I want to believe that He remains close to me, even when His ways cannot be understood. And deep down, I want to stay open and faithful to Him even if He never grants my request.
What about you? Have you been told “no” so often that you wonder whether your path is the one you’re supposed to be traveling? Do you need to re-route? How do you know? And what is the role of hope in your journey?