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Why We Chose Adoption: A Father's Story

Any day now, I’m going to be a dad. I’m so excited about fatherhood that I often catch myself daydreaming about it. 

I had one of my “visions” a few weeks ago, as my wife Carolyn and I drove our standard- transmission car up a steep hill in our neighborhood.

We were halfway to the top when the light turned red. For a brief moment, I saw myself in the passenger seat next to an awkward, terrified 16-year-old girl. I had a glimpse of the way she will see the hill for the first time --through the eyes of inexperience and fear.

When the light turned green, I panicked. Pumping the accelerator and clutch too hard, the car lurched and I began to roll backward. Carolyn stared at me and grabbed the door handle. “What was that all about?” she asked, when I began my ascent once again. “I was thinking about Sophie,” I told her. “I was imagining teaching her to drive.”

She understood. We’re both intimately familiar with the overwhelming feeling of the unknown. For the past year, we’ve experienced that out-of-control sensation daily.

Our daughter Sophie is in Russia right now living in an orphanage as we await our appointment with the Russian court. A year ago, we made the decision that rather than trying to conceive a child, we would adopt.

Sometimes the experience has felt like driving up Mount Everest. Even though God is the seasoned veteran at the wheel, my insecurities about adoption and fatherhood have put me in the role of a panicked passenger who can’t stand to let someone else drive.

Catching a Vision

Fear – especially fear of loss – had become second nature to Carolyn. When she was 16, a drunk driver killed her mother; three years later, she attended her father’s funeral after his bout with cancer.

When she finally worked through some of her reservations and anxiety about raising children, she revived her latent dream of adopting. An orphan herself, she couldn’t envision anything more wonderful than giving a parentless child a family. I wasn’t so sure.

I grew up in a traditional home and hadn’t experienced the devastating losses she’d survived. While I didn’t entirely object to adoption, I didn’t exactly embrace it. I was fine with doing things “the old-fashioned way.” We agreed to explore the possibilities of adoption. After a powerful informational meeting, I began honestly seeking answers to the deeper questions that plagued me: Could I love an adopted child as much as a birth child?

Would it frustrate me that this baby didn’t have my nose or my wife’s eyes? Could I handle it if she had a personality or interests vastly different than my own? Would this child reciprocate our love?

Even as I wrestled with my doubts, I could feel our prayers and research coupled with insights from other adoptive families changing me. My heart began to ache as I came to realize how little hope many orphans have of a bright future.

We learned that a shocking majority of these kids in Russia turn to crime or prostitution for survival. I found myself longing to help one of those children. At the same time, I began to understand that all parenting, whether adopted or birth children, means living with unknowns about the future.

From that moment on, God confirmed our decision. Parents of adopted children seemed to appear everywhere we went. Wonderful stories of hope by co-workers, our CPA and members of our church frequently ended this way: “It was the best thing we ever did.”

Even when we felt discouraged, God continued to orchestrate every aspect of the journey -- like the day we almost called the whole thing off. We felt like the financial burden was too great. In a last-ditch effort, we went to the bank to find out how much money we could borrow.
We walked in with little hope and sat down with a loan officer named Jenny. When she found out why we needed the money, she nearly jumped out of her chair. Her nephew had been adopted from Russia just months before, through the very same agency we planned to use. She got us a great interest rate; but more importantly, God used her enthusiasm to reassure us we were making the right decision.

The Incredible Journey
Now, a year later, we’ve got stories of our own. Each time the climb seemed too steep – and believe me, there have been plenty of days like that – He has lifted us gently to the next plateau.

We’ve been told we can return to Russia soon to bring Sophie home. Even now, we find ourselves trying to control the uncontrollable, such as how we can make airplane reservations even though we have no travel date or trying to “will” the Russian government to get moving!
I know God is smiling and shaking His head, wondering if we’ll ever learn to surrender. Despite all of the obstacles, this journey has blessed us beyond anything we could have ever imagined.

We’ve met so many new people and felt blanketed with love and support from friends and family. With each passing day, we have a greater sense of the responsibility and joy that lie ahead. We’ve also learned God is right there to help us through all of the challenges. He knows what it feels like to be right where we are today as Ephesians 1:5 says: “Long, long ago, He decided to adopt us into His family through Jesus Christ. What pleasure He took in planning this!” ( The Message)

I hope I can be the kind of father God wants me to be. I hope I can make Him proud. Most of all, I hope that when Sophie stalls, petrified, on the hills in her life, I will be able to share these stories and encourage her to remember who is firmly holding the wheel.

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