I had a speaker in college who gave a talk on "living life with our hands wide open." It has stuck with me through the years and has never felt more applicable than right now. She talked about how so many of us go around with our fists clenched tightly, holding on to "our" plan for our lives, "our" dreams, "our" hopes, "our" goals. She challenged us to give up trying to hold our lives tightly in our own grip and live lives with our palms open and lifted to the Lord. Let go of those plans, that picture of how you view your "perfect" life and family, let go of those dreams and hopes and goals. Don't give up on them (they aren't wrong) but give them to the Lord in open surrender and be ready for His picture of your life. She encouraged us to live our lives with hands open to the Lord's plans and not closed tightly around our own.
When we went to the Hope for Orphan's conference in Seoul this fall, the speaker (semi) jokingly said that in most adoptions there is a "drag-er" and a "drag-ee." I have to admit, I am the "drag-ee" in this family and Steve has been the classic (patient) "drag-er"! When we were dating, we talked about adoption. In pre-marital counseling, we talked about adoption. We both felt it was part of our future. But for some reason it seems easier to talk about adoption "sometime in our lives" and a little scarier to talk about adoption "now."
I had "my" picture of our family and considering adoption in the present (versus the future) brought to my heart a whole host of fears, question marks and uncertainty. I have to admit, I felt a little like, "Lord, you called us to Korea. We left all our friends and family. We gave up our dreams of a home and a yard. I gave up a job I enjoyed. We took a huge pay cut, we left a great Church and small group, we moved around the world etc etc etc, can't we just do one little thing the "easy/normal" way and have another pregnancy and biological child?!? Is that too much to ask? It already feels like we have given up a lot and like we are living a life different than most our peers, why this too? Do we have to do everything the hard way? And, Lord, do you know our income? Why now, when we are living on less than we have ever lived on and money is the tightest....do you know what adoption costs?!?" Of course these are all rhetorical questions from a complaining 26-year-old. Of course the Lord knows what He is calling us to....
Hands wide open?
I've struggled with other questions too. Can I ever love another child the same way I love Caleb? What about bonding? Everything I've learned as a birth doula and childbirth educator talks about the importance of bonding, of those first moments after birth, of how important breastfeeding is to a bonding relationship. Everything we have done in parenting Caleb (thus far) has been started at a very early age. What would it look like to not go through the bonding of pregnancy (not feel those first little kicks and those big punches and rolls later on)? What does it look like to not go through labor and those initial bonding moments? How can I not nurse one of my children? What does bonding look like when you miss out on all of that? Is it possible to be bonded in the same way, without all that? I enjoy all those "little" aspects - I can't imagine not having it. Is that selfish?
Hands wide open?
What about Caleb? If we adopt an "older" child (we do plan to keep birth order so hopefully the child would be younger than Caleb but likely older than "infant") and we have a lot of emotional issues to wade through, will Caleb suffer because of it? Will he be negatively impacted by the wounds of a hurting child? How will he take to a sibling? Are we really ready for two, can I handle it?!? Maybe we are more of a one-child family? Is there a "reason" the Lord hasn't given us another biological child? Maybe we aren't good enough parents?
Hands wide open?
Am I really okay with children who look different than us? I love that Caleb looks exactly like his Daddy....I love that I see bits of us reflected in him. I would love for him to have siblings that look like him, and us. Prideful much? Then there is the whole "age thing." Not that I'm that old yet but "they say" it's better to have kids in your twenties than in your thirties, and certainly better to have kids in your early thirties than late thirties....If I ever want to have another pregnancy, isn't it best to do that first (while I'm still "young")?
Hands wide open?
Yet even with all these questions, I feel my heart being pulled deeper and deeper into the beautiful picture of adoption. I see our longing to expand our family. I see the overwhelming need for children to have parents. And I can't let it go. Why not? Am I so closed into my own little idea of what my picture of life looks like that I can't see outside of the tiny box I've created? Am I living my life with my hands open or closed?
In our study of Esther at church we read recently from Esther 4:14, it says the following (Mordecai speaking to Esther as she is hesitating to take the steps the Lord would have for her, weighing all the possible negative outcomes and ramifications):
For if you keep silent at this time, relief and deliverance will rise for the Jews from another place, but you and your father's house will perish. And who knows weather you have not come to the kingdom for such a time as this?
I think this speaks volumes about our God. Our God is all-powerful. He doesn't need us. He will accomplish His will and Purpose. But it is us who will suffer. If He calls us to something and we are disobedient to His calling, it is not Him who suffers but us. Maybe it isn't physical death, but we may not feel the life-giving benefits and rewards of obedience. We may miss out on the joy He has for us. Or the sanctification.
And who knows?
Who knows what He has in store? Who knows what He has Purposed for us? Who knows what lies ahead? Who knows if we haven't been called to this place for just such a time as this?
Hands wide open.
And so I take one (terrified and excited) step in front of the other, towards adoption. We really feel this is the road the Lord is taking us down right now. We have no idea what will come of it. We have no idea what ending will be written or what heartache and joy lies ahead. But we know we are called to live life open handed (as hard as it is to pry them open sometimes!) and follow the Lord's calling. His ways are always better than ours and He knows what He's doing.