How lovely is your dwelling place,
My soul yearns, even faints,
for the courts of the Lord;
my heart and my flesh cry out
for the living God.
Even the sparrow has found a home,
and the swallow a nest for herself,
where she may have her young—
a place near your altar,
Lord Almighty, my King and my God.
Blessed are those who dwell in your house;
they are ever praising you.
Are you crazy? I’ve heard that question from others and internalized the question to myself a few times since we decided to adopt six children from an orphanage in Eastern Europe. And five of them are boys!
It was not our idea. It’s not that we did not want to do this. To the contrary, we are excited and eager (in fact frustrated by the tediousness of the process). God has given us a love and passion for these children that only increases over time.
But that’s the thing: this was God’s doing. Not our own. As I’ve explained earlier, not only was this not our idea, it was counter to what we had planned and contrary to the little rules we agreed would govern hosting or adoption. God has made clear to us that He has different plans.
How did we know it was God’s will for us and not an emotional response or reaction to what we ate for breakfast? How can you ever be certain whether God is leading you or whether you are simply rationalizing your desires as being the will of God?
Well, we knew because we heard God talking to us the way He typically does: through His Word, through His People, through the circumstances he put us in, and by that very quiet urging deep in our souls. Through the solid convergence of these four, God spoke to us. The more we prayed about it, the louder all four seemed to speak to us.
His Word on Adoption
I am somewhere in the second year of my one-year read through the Bible program. Every time I do a read-through the Bible program, I’m surprised how God anticipated my falling behind. So often the readings (which should have been completed weeks (or months!)) ago coincide perfectly with God answering my then current prayers and questions.
Last Christmas season was no different. As the orphans were with us, I was much more diligent in my daily readings. And those readings several times reminded and encouraged me regarding God’s heart for orphans and widows. Some of such passages follow:
Orphans and Fatherless
James 1:27 Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world.
Exodus 22:22-24 You shall not mistreat any widow or fatherless child. If you do mistreat them, and they cry out to me, I will surely hear their cry, and my wrath will burn, and I will kill you with the sword, and your wives shall become widows and your children fatherless.
Deuteronomy 10:18 He executes justice for the fatherless and the widow, and loves the sojourner, giving him food and clothing.
Deuteronomy 24:17-21 “You shall not pervert the justice due to the sojourner or to the fatherless, or take a widow’s garment in pledge, but you shall remember that you were a slave in Egypt and the Lord your God redeemed you from there; therefore I command you to do this. “When you reap your harvest in your field and forget a sheaf in the field, you shall not go back to get it. It shall be for the sojourner, the fatherless, and the widow, that the Lord your God may bless you in all the work of your hands. When you beat your olive trees, you shall not go over them again. It shall be for the sojourner, the fatherless, and the widow. When you gather the grapes of your vineyard, you shall not strip it afterward. It shall be for the sojourner, the fatherless, and the widow.
Psalm 68:5, 34-35 Father of the fatherless and protector of widows is God in his holy habitation. … Sing to God, sing praises to his name; lift up a song to him who rides through the deserts; his name is the Lord; exult before him! Father of the fatherless and protector of widows is God in his holy habitation.
Psalm 82:3 Give justice to the weak and the fatherless; maintain the right of the afflicted and the destitute.
The Bible does not, however, compel Christians to adopt. Adoption is simply one way to serve in a manner pleasing to God. We are however mandated to be servants of the living God:
Matthew 20:28 “Even as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”
Romans 13:9 For the commandments, “You shall not commit adultery, You shall not murder, You shall not steal, You shall not covet,” and any other commandment, are summed up in this word: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”
Acts 20:35 In all things I have shown you that by working hard in this way we must help the weak and remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he himself said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’”
Matthew 18:2-5 And calling to him a child, he put him in the midst of them and said, “Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. Whoever receives one such child in my name receives me”
Proverbs 24:11 Rescue those who are being taken away to death; hold back those who are stumbling to the slaughter.
John 3:15 That whoever believes in him may have eternal life.
I have also recently been encouraged and reminded that adopting and being entrusted with parenting a child or children is an incredible gift from God. The costs (and frustrations) of adoption are small price compared to the blessing received:
Psalm 127:3-5 Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord, the fruit of the womb a reward. Like arrows in the hand of a warrior are the children of one’s youth. Blessed is the man who fills his quiver with them!
In studying the Biblical rationale for adoption, I was reminded of an interesting historical note. Who is the most famous person you can think of that was adopted? Moses!
Acts 7:21 And when he was exposed, Pharaoh’s daughter adopted him and brought him up as her own son.
Every Christian is Adopted
As Lesley and I approached the “deadline” during hosting to decide whether we were going to pursue adopting our children, someone recommended that we read Adopted for Life by Russell D. Moore. I bought it and added it to the “top” of my “most urgent” reading pile of books. In quickly perusing its contents, I was convicted by the fact that each one of us professing Christians are broken orphans who have been adopted. God quickly reminded us and convicted us of His words in this regard:
John 14:18 “I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you.”
Romans 8:15-17 For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!” The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him.
Gal 4:4-7: But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons. And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!” So you are no longer a slave, but a son, and if a son, then an heir through God.
These passages remind us all who we are. Contrary to what the world might have you believe, you were no accident of nature or circumstance. You were created by the God of eternity who thought of you before time began. He has a plan for you. Each one of us, if we’ve accepted Christ as our Lord and savior, each one of us is a child and heir of the almighty, infinite and eternal God. What an honor and what a gift!
Christ’s Hands – the People of God
The second way we knew this was God moving us was through his people. Our Christian brothers and sisters came out of the woodwork to love on us and the children. It was incredible. The love, encouragement, prayers and material support were continual. And what a huge difference that made to us. God provided. No material needs were unmet. Friends gave us furniture and bags of clothing for the children. Nearly every meal for a month was delivered, without our having to ask.
I like to eat. As a result, I work out. Running is the most accessible way to exercise. One early morning while the children were with us, I went for a run. When I returned home, there was a car in our driveway. A friend had brought us breakfast. I saw the woman bringing a GARBAGE BAG apparently filled with food into our house. I was amazed. An entire garbage bag filled with food? That’s a lot. Kind of incredible. Even with ten kids, that’s more than we need for breakfast.
I was wrong. She didn’t bring a bag filled with food.
SHE BROUGHT SIX BAGS OF FOOD! We’re still eating some of it nearly four months later.
In fact, despite having to feed twelve people three meals a day for a month, I don’t believe we cooked more than two or three times for dinner. Our friends continually brought food. And everything and anything else we needed.
When God gives, He gives abundantly.
We wanted for nothing, for which we will remain thankful.
God fed us, through His people. God encouraged us, through His people. God provided for us, through His people. God loved us, through His people. God’s people prayed for us and our way was smooth.
Even now, as we build a new home and go through the expenses of the international adoption process, God blesses us through his people. Good friends of ours run the website http://homeschoolmania.com and are selling adoption friendly clothing and donating 100% of those sales proceeds as well as 50% of all online proceeds towards our adoption effort. Further, several friends have donated directly to our adoption agency designating their donations towards our adoption costs. God continues to provide for and encourage us through his people.
Circumstances and Urging
The final pieces that confirms this is God’s leading and directing is when our present circumstances and internal feeling of being led align with God’s word and the influence of God’s people. It was not simultaneous, but over time, Lesley and I each felt convicted that we were to adopt these children – to bring these children into our home as our children. I am convinced and every adoptive we have spoken with tells us: both parents must feel called to this. If one does not feel called to adopt the children, you should not do it. Over several weeks, Lesley and I varied back and forth, but as time passed we found ourselves with the same conviction. We explored several easier alternatives, but each time and in various ways, God closed each of those doors.
We have other friends we’ve made during this journey where they felt led to adopt particular children, but God firmly closed the doors. In our case, the desire and the circumstances have thus far aligned. One circumstance seemed quite obvious – after it happened. Nearly five years ago we bought a piece of property on which to planned to build a home designed for homeschooling and a lot of books. We prayed for years that God would bless that effort and use the home for his purposes. But it never worked out. For years and for various reasons, we were simply unable to move forward with construction. Everything came together towards the end of 2013 – finances, design and builder. While lying in bed on the night we committed to hosting the six orphans, I realized that earlier that day Lesley and I had also signed the contract to build our house on that property – after many years of waiting and prayer. The design was very easy to modify to accommodate 10 children! The timing and convergence of circumstances did not occur to us until after they occurred. There have been other events, some significant, that have occurred since to make the way clear for our adoption effort. It confirms our conviction that this is entirely God’s doing and timing.
Finding yourself in the midst of God’s will and His timing, is exciting. It reminds me of body surfing large waves in the Atlantic. A very large force moves you in ways and fashions beyond your control and often differently than what you anticipated.
Thank you for your prayers and support. God is Great!