Tuesday, January 18, 2011

The Fear Factor

As we began to seriously consider the idea of adopting, the subject of fear came up. Here are a few common adoption fears we had to consider and a few of our own fears that we had to wrestle with.

Could we love an adopted child the same way we loved our biological children?
This is a common question for families considering adoption who already have biological children. We love our kids so deeply that the fear of being Cinderella’s evil step mother to an adopted child creeps into our head. In fact, Mary Beth Chapman Steven Curtis Chapman’s wife), lists this as her greatest fear when they adopted their first daughter from China. I read many things that offered tons of reassurance to people contemplating adoption that they would indeed love an adopted child the same way they loved their biological children. Mary Beth Chapman said this fear in her melted immediately when she took Shohannah into her arms for the first time. I asked Chris early on in this process if he feared that we would love an adopted child differently than the trio we already had. Without hesitation he said “Absolutely not.” I couldn’t have agreed more. Although this is a valid fear for some, this just wasn’t ever a fear of ours.

Isn’t adoption expensive? Are you worried about being able to pay for it?
Yes, adoption can be expensive. Adopting locally through the foster care system can be very inexpensive, but international and some domestic adoptions can really add up. International adoptions can cost anywhere from $25,000 to $55,000, depending on the country. So, are we worried about being able to pay for it? We know that we are doing what God has called us to do, so we know he will provide. He asked for our obedience and now he will supply our needs. In the Bible, God never seems to call the fully equipped instead he chooses to equip the called. In this way, the glory can be given only to him. We have seen it time and again with mission trips. People would sign onto a trip telling Chris that they weren’t sure how they were going to pay for it. God had prompted them to go and in their obedience they had signed up, praying that somehow God would work out the finances. In case after case we have seen people’s trip deficits covered by unexpected funds from unexpected sources, sometimes to the exact dollar! God funds what he favors, and his provisions never fail to amaze us. We are praying for God’s similar provisions in this adoption process. We have a bank account set up to keep track of the inflows and outflows for this adoption. The balance of that account is a far cry from the approx $25,000 - $30,000 we will need to bring our daughter home. We plan to scrimp and save as much as we can so we can boost that balance, but in the end, this is God’s deal and we know he will provide. Maybe a better question is “Are you ever tempted to worry about the finances?” Honestly, I’d have to admit that yes we still worry. We know this is God’s plan and we know this is his timing, but as we look at the timeline of when our payments/expenses are due, it’s hard to not be concerned with how it will all work out. When the worry creeps in, we do our best to refocus our energy on prayer, not panic! We remember that this little girl is God’s treasure and he loves her more than we do. He will complete the good work he has started. We welcome your prayers for God’s financial provisions in this process.

So, those are the 2 most common fears I hear about adopting. Did we have any other fears about this? Well, as a matter of fact, we did. We had 3.

First, as I stated in a prior post, we knew God had made us aware of orphans and was calling us to be a part of their care, but we weren’t sure if he was calling us to adopt or not. As we spent those 5 and half months in prayer about it, we feared we would get it wrong. We so desperately wanted to follow God’s will for our family and not our own desires. We had grown to love the idea of adding to our family through adoption, but was that what God had in mind too? It’s a difficult spot to be in to discern God’s will from our own desires. Sometimes they are the same things, but often they are not. We prayed fervently that God would make his will abundantly clear and thankfully he did.

Secondly, as we were praying about adoption, there were nights that I would go to bed so hopeful that we would one day adopt, only to wake up in a total panic that we might actually do it. So, what was this fear that would cause such a swing in me? One day it hit me – I was scared of having 4 kids! It had nothing to do with the manner in which a new child joined our family - birth or adoption. The idea of 4 kids just seemed to terrify me. We are pretty busy with the 3 we have. Could I do it? Was I up to the challenge of managing the lives of 4 little people? We had long ago abandoned man-on-man defense for a zone defense strategy and little by little we were becoming more outnumbered. I’m sure there will days that being outnumbered 2 to 1 will not be easy, but the idea of 4 kids now brings us more excitement than fear.

Lastly, there was one thing that really scared us… One evening Chris and I discussed how saying yes to adoption would change things. Obviously it would change the structure of our family, but it wasn’t just that. This was about more than a child that needed a home or the enormity of the orphan crisis. It was about a closer relationship God desired with each of us. We knew that God would use this process to pull us closer to the feet of Jesus, instead of the comfortable spectator seats we had grown accustom to occupying. The Bible uses pruning and refining silver as analogies to growing a more beautiful and productive plant or product. Pruning involves cutting off what is dead and refining requires some time in the fire. Both processes are painful, but silver wouldn’t shine brilliantly without the time in the fire, and a tree can’t produce beautiful blooms or useful fruit without cutting off the dead parts of the plant. We knew God wanted to prune/refine our family through this. It’s tough to willing let go of control, to give up the comfort that comes with our complacency. Were we up for the task of dying to ourselves more and becoming more of what God wanted us to be? In some ways it didn’t matter if we were up for it, because it was what God had already set in motion. We knew the outcome of pruning a refining would be wonderful, but we knew this turning point in our lives would start with the pain of pruning and the heat of the fire. That can be a scary position to be in. So here we go. The refining and the pruning have begun. God has started a new work in us. He assures us that his plans for us are good and to prosper us (Jer 29:11) but he never says that are without pain. We are thankful that God has chosen us for this journey – the adoption journey and the journey of drawing closer to him.

And I will put this third into the fire, and refine them as one refines silver, and test them as gold is tested. They will call upon my name, and I will answer them. I will say, ‘They are my people’; and they will say, ‘The Lord is my God.’ Zechariah 13:9

I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in me that does not bear fruit he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit. John 15:1-2


  1. amen, my friend. so thankful that Jesus loves us enough to call us closer to Him. i feel like He has been showing me that lately... all the pruning, all the refining... it's because He LOVES ME! such a lovely place to be, even when it hurts.

  2. Amen and Amen!! Love this post!!