She place her baby in my arms and told me to take him back to America. Then she turned and walked away. She walked away and I couldn’t breathe. Holding that sweet boy I just stood there lost in a flood of thoughts and emotions. Why would a women so easily give up her child? What drives a person to make such a bold decision? What do I do now? It’s there next to that well in Africa, at the age of nineteen, that an awakening happened in my soul. An awareness of a world hurting so much that a women would give her baby to a total stranger if it meant a better life. This was one of those moments that stops time. A moment that changes you and impacts the rest of your life.
Interactions and moments like these have been pointing me to Jesus and to adoption all my life. We are six months in to our adoption process. But our story does not begin on that day in April when we submitted our application to adopt from China. It doesn’t even begin by the well in Africa.
I feel like my journey toward adoption started at my creation. My heart has been drawn to adoption for as long as I can recall. I am convinced that God placed this heart for adoption within me when He formed me in my mother’s womb. I do not say that to be overly dramatic. But there really is no other explanation for my passion for adoption. It has to be from Him.
I am not from an adoptive family and no one in my extended family has ever adopted. Adoption was not apart of my life or culture growing up. This is one reason I am confident that it was placed in my heart supernaturally way before I even fully understand what it meant to adopt.
Another reason I believe this is because the concept of adoption has never seemed foreign or crazy to me. From the first time I can recall learning about adoption I have always viewed it as something amazing and beautiful. And totally doable, right? Hmm. Let me just clarify right now that even though I have had a desire to adopt for a long time that did not make the actual decision to do so an easy one. Oh man, ugliness revealed itself in my heart the months leading up to us completing our actual application. It was bad. Real bad. And petty. But that is another story for another day.
When I was a teenager I had the great privileged to babysit for a family who had adopted stateside before I met them. They were very open about the fact that their son was adopted. Even though this was my first personal experience with the concept of adoption it did not seem strange to me. During my time with that family they also adopted from China. I witnessed first-hand a family choosing to bring a child into their home and loving unconditionally. That love was glorious and contagious. I wanted to live and love like that. That was my first exposure to adoption.
Over the next decade God kept bringing people into my life who were walking out this choice of adoption. Seeing those people in the thick of it stirred up something within me. Each time I met an adoptive family I longed to be around them. I wanted to hear their stories and get to know their adopted children. I wanted to sit next to them at church and observe their interactions. I just needed to be near them. At that time I could not put into words what I felt when I was around people who had adopted. I was just attracted to them. Drawn to them.
Now I believe that attraction is because adoption is the very thing our heavenly Father does for us. He chooses us in spite of our circumstances, our baggage, and our junk. He runs after us. He pursues us. And I saw that in adoptive families. I saw the gospel in flesh and blood working it out regardless of risk or reward. I am brought to tears and stirred up by that kind of love. It is infectious. Surreal. I want to be apart of something like that.
That is where it began for me. God created me in my mother’s womb with this heart. I did not fabricate it. Or will myself to care for the Fatherless. He did that. But, He strategically placed others in my life to draw it out. That was not accidental. I sometimes wonder where my heart would land on this issue if I was not exposed to those people living their lives out in front of me? What if that first family chose not to live their story vulnerably out loud? They could have easily kept the fact that their son was adopted to themselves. If those families at church would not have opened their doors and willingly share their stories would I still feel as passionately about adoption as I do now? Thankfully I will never have to answer those questions. Because those interactions and relationships did happen. And those dear to my heart people were brave enough to walk out their lives, even the messy parts, in the light and in community. God used others to bring this heart for adoption out in me. He placed people in my life to shape it and mold it and breathe life into it.
Seeing others walk out in faith and do the very thing called of them speaks to people. It changes hearts. It encourages. It convicts in a beautiful way. It spurs others on. It changes the world. It changes lives. It changed mine. And my husband’s. And now, the life of our future Chinese daughter. Lives forever changed because of people just like you not afraid to live life out loud. I am thankful for those who have done this for us. And even for that women by the well who gave me a small glimpse into her life when she placed that baby in my arms. So whatever your story is, live it in community. Don’t keep it to yourself. It is not just your burden, your wrestle, your passion, or your hope. It is God’s. And He can use it to change hearts, change the world, and bring His Kingdom here on earth. Don’t be afraid to get messy and emotional and real and raw. Lives are changed in authentic relationships like that.
This is my story of where my heart for adoption began, but more importantly it is about community and influence. Who is your story influencing? Are you living it out loud or keeping it to yourself? Let me encourage you. Don’t rob others of what God wants to do in their lives THROUGH yours. You have more influence than you know.