If adoption has taught me anything, it's that all kids are God’s kids.
When it comes to loving kids in need of families, it's crucial that we understand this. It's one of those phrases that's fun to say, but harder to live. It's powerful when we can truly live it.
Sometimes we get to welcome kids into our home and love them forever. Sometimes it’s only for a few days or months. Sometimes it’s only through pictures.
It can be hard to understand God’s plan for a child in need of a family.
And that’s OK.
I don’t need to understand everything on this side of heaven. That’s where faith steps in. The world surrounding adoption and orphan care isn’t black and white. It’s a world full of faith-filled gray.
Recently, a little boy that our agency was advocating for came across my e-mail inbox. I usually take a glance at the spotlight e-mails and then quickly delete them. I’m not a person that can choose a child from a list. I need the agency to call me and tell me about a child who needs a family. My compassionate heart tends to like that better.
This time though, a little boy named “Jack” caught my eye. I immediately asked for more information about him. I’m not sure where the impulsiveness came from to pursue Jack. I’ll blame it on too much coffee that day.
To our surprise, his file snapshot seemed to be a good match for our family. We pulled his entire file to review with a physician. We had two weeks to review it. We made the decision that we would walk through every door to pursue Jack unless God closed it.
After just one week, I e-mailed our agency to say that we were “ALL IN” and would love to adopt Jack. I even wrote it in all caps.
What happened next, shouldn't have been a surprise. We’d never requested a specific child’s file before, so I’ll blame it on our lack of experience. Our agency informed us that two other families were also pursuing Jack, and a committee would have to choose his family.
This is what my friend, Lynsey, would call a “Why, God, why?” moment.
We had said we’d move forward unless God closed a door. Now, it was truly in God’s hands, and there was comfort in that.
As we waited an agonizing three weeks for the committee to choose a family, I couldn't help but remember what had happened during our first adoption. The time when we said “no” to a referral.
I will always remember her name... Ji Fang.
I loved her the moment I saw the sweet, tiny person that she was. I was all in and completely devastated when we realized the hidden parts of her medical file that meant we weren’t the family for her.
In my book Made for More, I share about how I became physically ill when we said "no" to Ji Fang’s file. It was heart-wrenching. In my naïve mind, I had always told myself that I’d never turn away from a child that needed a family, more bold words that I couldn't live out.
I had yet to learn the reality of it all. I didn’t fully grasp that all kids are God’s kids. I’m simply an instrument that He uses on earth to help a child grow and mature in Christ.
My only job in loving kids well is to keep walking in obedience until God closes a door.
After three long weeks, we got the call that we weren’t chosen to be Jack’s family.
When my phone rang, I was touring a group home for teenage girls in Nashville. We had just decorated the front porch for Christmas, and the director was telling us about the facility and some of the needs that the girls had.
One of the coordinators for the day (along with Bloom Family Designs) was Jenny Reimold, a social media influencer whose design work is often displayed on HGTV. (She's fun to follow AND an advocate for adoption!)
So, I was standing in a group home with an HGTV designer when God closed the door to Jack and my initial thoughts were, “What is my life? Why? How did I get to this moment? Do not cry.” I was receiving hard news while physically standing in a hard place.
I never planned to review a file for a child from a photo listing. I know how emotionally costly that can be.
I never planned to tour a group home for teenage girls. I know how emotionally costly that can be too.
I was standing and living in the hard, not quite sure how I got to that day. Jack had a home, but so many kids still didn’t. I was seeing a faith-filled gray area that adoption so many times has thrown my way.
I toured the girls home that day without whispering a word about why I awkwardly went to the corner to take a phone call. When I got in my minivan that day, tears began to fall. I’m still me.
Peace also washed over me. In the days to come, the Lord would continue to meet me in a way that only He can.
“Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be." Psalm 139:16
This verse was texted to me by a friend after we got the news. It's a sweet reminder of what God has been reinforcing in my heart over the past few years. God's days for us were planned before we were even born. He is never surprised.
You also better believe that Ji Fang and Jack will always be in the back of my mind. They are my kids that I will never meet this side of heaven. I will always whisper a prayer for them as they come to my mind. That's just as powerful as having them under my roof.
When it comes to loving kids in need of families, we have to allow God to open and shut doors. We may love kids for a day through serving them, for a month via a sweet adoption file, or for a lifetime in our home. The length of our time with them doesn't change that all kids are God's kids.
The most powerful way that we can love ALL kids is to realize that ultimately they belong to God. We only step in when He asks us to.
When we understand this, we can step into hard situations alongside kids and still find His perfect peace.