Who can adopt? { 31 Days of Adoption: Day 5 }

Married Couples:  This is the most popular category of people who adopt. Just keep in mind different countries/states/agencies have different requirements as to how long you’ve been married, how many times you’ve been married, and so on. However, I will say that in a lot of countries you will find that if you’re the right fit for that country, the country has a high number of orphans, or special needs children are being considered that they can and usually do make an exception and waive that requirement. (different agencies might be more sticklers than others on this… but I KNOW the countries do make exceptions on many things!! You’ll never know until you ask and pursue!!)

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Newlyweds: Like I said before, a lot of places have a number of years that you’re required to be married… most have a 1 year at least policy. BUT that doesn’t mean you can’t do some practical/spiritual steps to get ready for the green light! I LOVE LOVE LOVE it when newly married couples talk about their heart for adoption and they are serious about it. If I had a dollar for every time I met a couple and they said… “we want to adopt one day.”. And I get it… I was there once. I said that. I wish I hadn’t… I wish I had just followed my heart and trusted God in what I felt was impossible. I wish I had not thought that family and career was separate from each other… I wish I hadn’t let personal debt or budget issues be forefront in my mind/plans/fears.  Whenever a couple says “one day” to me… I want to say… okay, maybe you can’t… or aren’t near ready to bring a child home tomorrow… but you CAN do something tomorrow. What are you doing about this leading in your heart?

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Divorced People: 

We live in a broken world. One where children loose their parents and marriages come to an end.  But friends, we have a God who is in the business of redemption! And while one day all things will be made new and whole… right now, we can trust that He can heal the heartache and redeem the brokenness. While I think that time and healing should happen before embarking on a new chapter in life, what feels like is end of the life you dreamed of  might really be the beginning of a life that makes much of God and points to the One who sustains and redeems!  And honestly, just as Zoe brought healing to so many after our grief, I believe that bringing in a little one to love might offer healing in both sides of the family and can definitely be a ministry to others who are hurting. Not saying that divorce is a hopeless situation but I know it can feel that way inside your heart… it feels like you’ve reached a dead end but you have to keep walking, but know that God can be glorified in the walking… and He can make your feet as surefooted as a ram on the rocky edges of a mountain. There’s something about living for something greater than ourselves….. it’s like we were made for that. (WE WERE!!).

There is absolutely no experience, however terrible, or heartbreaking, or unjust, or cruel, or evil, which you can meet in the course of your earthly life, that can harm you if you but let Me teach you how to accept it with joy; and to react to it triumphantly as I did myself, with love and forgiveness and with willingness to bear the results of wrong done by others. Every trial, every test, every difficulty and seemingly wrong experience through which you may have to pass, is only another opportunity granted to you of conquering an evil thing and bringing out of it something to the lasting praise and glory of God.” 
― Hannah Hurnard, Mountains of Spices

 

Single people:

I’m writing a WHOLE blog post in this series on Singles Adopting!!!  (It will be posted probably next week sometime)

I don’t know why but watching single people adopt is one of my most favorite things in the world!! I get so happy! I”m not happy solely because they are single (because many of them desire a someone special) but because they aren’t letting the lack of something they desire, or what people around them (including their own heart) are telling them they need to be complete  stop them from God’s leading in their life to adopt. Adoption exists because we live in a broken world. The very need for adoption is because life for someone hasn’t gone as expected or planned. But here’s the incredible thing, our God is a redeeming, creative, light bringing, sustaining, strengthening, mysterious working, willing heart using God and He LOVES single people!!!! Over and over in scripture He does great and mighty things through single men and women… go ahead.. go look and see. And I’m going to be telling you about all sorts of singles who stopped waiting for life to happen to them and made life happen for someone else!!

Increasing numbers of agencies and some foreign countries are now placing children with single applicants. Follow-up research studies of successful single-parent adoptions have shown single adoptive parents as mature, independent, and having a wide and supportive network of family and friends. In fact, single adoptive parents are often the placement of choice for children who have trouble dealing with two parents due to a history of abuse or neglect.

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Renters: We’ve always rented… and probably always will. (because we love big cities and would love to live in one eventually, owning your own home isn’t really an affordable option). Renting never has been a hinderance to getting approved for an adoption. In fact it might actually work in a family’s favor because as they add children to their family they are more free to move to bigger spaces, to cities that offer better medical care for special needs children, and to move closer to a great support system.

Apartment Dwellers & Roomate situations: We had 2… soon to be 4 children in 1 room + had a friend living with us in a 3 bedroom apartment when we were going through our Congo Adoption process. Having Kristin living with us during that time really helped free us up to get medical exams, adoption related errands, and to get out on dates to spend time together as we prepared to change our lives forever. She also ended up going with me to the Congo for the first 2 weeks and because she had walked with us through the whole process she was just as connected and invested as dan and I were. (she moved elsewhere after we came home and gave us space to adjust to being a new family of 6… BUT if we all had decided it was best for her to stay… she could have, she just would have had to get a criminal background check and probably fingerprinting) Apartments are great for young families because they save money, they have access to pools, parks, and usually are in town close to stores. DON’T say… when we have room.. or have a house… or aren’t in this transitional stage of life… before you start the adoption journey that your heart is longing for. (it’s based on a faulty idea of what it takes to raise and provide for a child, as well as being a fear not based in truth.)

I just found this graphic interesting because families were generally larger in the 50’s-60’s than in today but look at our perceived housing need today. Are we sure that more sq. footage = a better life?

 

Empty Nesters:  I love whenever I get to talk (or text… since moms with lots of little have NO time to talk on the phone… EVER!) with my friend Melissa Mestas Pearce. We met in college and had a love for photography in common, but after a while we would find that we had something else in common.  We often laugh and sometimes sigh as we talk about the joys and struggles of being the oldest in a big family whose parents adopted later in life. Both of our parents adopted younger children when we were already grown and out of the house.  My youngest sibling is a junior in highschool while her siblings are still in grade school.  Our parents could be having a lot of freedom and extra time on their hands right now to be pursuing things that they love to do and haven’t ever had the time to because they were raising us…. but they aren’t. They are still in the throws of full blown parenting. While we both probably would love more time with our parents and selfishly want more of them as grandparents in our lives… I think, I KNOW that we wouldn’t trade any of our brothers or sisters for a hundred years of extra time with them. They are giving us precious gifts in raising our siblings. They have changed our lives by living radically different when the world is saying “now… finally, it’s YOUR time! Go and do all the things you’ve been wanting to do for yourself” My children may have a little less time with their grandparents yes… (for now) but they also are abundantly blessed in the aunt and uncle and cousin department!!! I can’t imagine my kids growing up without getting handcuffed by uncle Josh or chased around on the playground by uncle Tony (who is the only one with enough energy to play for hours with them). I have no doubt that because of our parents choices to forego an empty nest, both melissa’s life  and my life as well as our families lives will be so much better and richer!

Melissa’s mom Eileen wrote a book called “More than I can Handle” and it’s SO good!! HERE is where you can order it.  Stories like this fuel the fire for this life God has led Dan and I to lead.

Here is Melissa’s mom and dad with her little brothers and sisters from Ethiopia

 

Big Families:  

Well, the Duggars were saying last week that they are praying about adopting and while they aren’t sure if they will… they could. Meaning, a lot of countries and for sure America do not have child number restrictions.  Bigger families have often learned how to get the biggest bang for their buck, how to share rooms, toys, meals, etc…, how to work together to get a lot accomplished, how to be there for each other, and the overall value of togetherness through thick and thin! What a great environment for a child who desperately wants to belong and to be advocated for to be placed in. People often ask me how do I do it with 5 little ones… and honestly, it was going from 1 to 2 that was the toughest transition for me (and I’ve heard the same thing from many mamas). 5 is exhausting… but it’s a good kind of tired and it’s also one that knows that in 5-25+ years the benefits and perks of having many children (chores being done, conversations being had, careers to cheer on, and so much more) will also be mine.

Can I get on a soapbox for just a minute: Big families can get a bad wrap because they seem to live in a constant state of chaos or sometimes have retreated from culture, or just may seem like freaks in general. We love to stare and criticize things/people who are different than us. And often we fail to consider the good that is happening as a result of somebody not living their lives for the approval of those around them or the ease of the everyday.  We never know what God is going to do with any one of those children.  Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, born 7th out of 7 children, Thomas Jefferson, born 3rd out of 10 children, Ludwig van Beethoven, born 3rd out of 8 children, George Washington, born 5th of 10 children (but 1st of his mother, Mary Ball, who had 5 more children), Ben Franklin was one of 16 children. Can you imagine life today without the influence of these men?  Even people we wouldn’t think like Susan Sarandon, Mark Wahlberg, Bill Murray all came from families with 9-14 kids. So maybe the next time we gasp at someone saying they are having their 5th kid or adopting their 12th (like my friends the Hopkins are over in the DRC doing right now!) or roll our eyes when someone mentions the Duggars, instead we should think  “maybe one of their children will do something in the future that will impact my life for good!” It might be a laugh at the movies… or it might be the cure to a deadly disease… or the next Billy Graham or Beth Moore leading the generation to come to treasure Jesus more!

 

This sweet big family mama of 12 has an awesome blog full of adoption, special needs and education resources. Click on the photo to get to her site.

 

 

Overseas Families:   This would/could include Business people, Embassy workers, Expats, and Missionaries.  I have several friends who are living overseas and have adopted while they are over there. Interestingly enough most of them are adopting from a different country than the one they are residing in. I was talking to a friend about her experience of adopting overseas and this is what she said. (It’s GOOD stuff!)

“I think a lot of missionaries see their calling as kind of restricting to anything else. But I think all believers living in another culture should consider adoption. Often times, it’s hard to get people to understand exactly what the Gospel means for them, exactly what it is that Christ did. When we’re out, people typically are very curious about our daughter, about the “color difference” as they say… when they begin to ask about her, we are happy to share that she’s adopted. Then they begin to count the kids… 1, 2, 3, 4… why would you adopt a child when you already have three? Well, let me tell you why. Right before them, they can see a child who was abandoned, left beside a road, with no family, no name, no future. But now they see her with a family that loves her, brothers and sisters, parents caring for her as their own, who’ve given her a name, an identity, a place to belong, and hope for a future. They always say she is “very lucky.” We’re able to tell them that all of us are lucky, because Jesus did the same thing for us. We didn’t have to give up any of our other children in order to make her our daughter, yet that’s just what God did for us… he took us from the side of the road, laying in our sin and hopelessness and put His only Son there instead. It is a very tangible, visible picture of the Gospel right in front of their eyes. And it gives us the chance to share with a lot more people than we have before, because a TON of people ask about her when we’re out!

A lot of people who live overseas I talk to are afraid of how their host culture will receive their child. I say, I’m not going to let another cultures biases rule how I live my life. It’s our job to shake up their world view, expose their ignorances and sin. The Gospel is a divider. I don’t care if other people judge me for having a black child, because those people are the ones who have the guts to come up and ask about it. They get the Gospel. All children will face prejudices in their life (especially ones adopted from Africa). If all believers chose not to adopt because their child might face prejudices and adversity because of their skin color, which also happens in the US, no African children would ever be adopted. Surely that’s not the answer. We have to confront people’s prejudices and worldly thoughts head on. I’m never afraid of going against the cultural grain here, because it spurs conversation with nationals to new depths.

To be balanced, here are some challenges people face when living in another country when they adopt a child. When you’re overseas, you often don’t have a host of other families in your church or community that have adopted. You may not have anyone who really gets it. Maybe you will face real ostracizing from the community you live in. Often, I don’t know where to turn when I’m confused by my adopted daughter. Is she doing this because she’s two, or is she doing this because she’s adopted and this is sign of trauma? I have the books, but no other moms to talk to regularly, no other adopted kids to observe, and often I just don’t know what to do with her. And oh, how I’d long to go to one of those Empowered to Connect conferences, but that’s just not a reality for me. So it is a bit more of a lonely path, but in that, there is more dependence on Father to give me wisdom, grace, and love for this child!

Also, maybe those overseas feel that they won’t be able to raise the financial support they need for the adoption. I know it’s trite to say, but God really does provide. I’ve watched five families overseas adopt this year, all who make less than $30,000 a year. Their adoptions (and ours) cost one year of our salary. One whole year. And do you know how much we paid out of our own pocket? $1,000. Because we got a grant from the JSC Foundation for $17,770! And friends and family donated so generously. Literally, every thing was paid for. It was incredible, and to see Father providing like that was a huge faith builder.”

This is my sweet friends The Preedy Family. They adopted Meryn from Ethiopia while they lived in India.  They have a papergoods business in India that works with local women. Click on the photo to see all what they make.

I’ve had several friends actually become big families through adoption and then became missionaries to the country where they adopted from!  Check out the Schillings journey to Ethiopia where they are moving their whole family over there to care for orphans and church plant and provide humanitarian aid as well.  And you have to check out the Twietmeyer Family as they head to Guatamala with their 15 children!!

 

College Students/Grad Students:  College and Graduate school are incredible times in the life of a student. Dan and I met in college and then have been in seminary for several years. I KNOW how not permanent those years can feel. How living in student housing can feel very unstable and like your life is kind of on pause due to school. I do think that there are times in our life that we know that the timing isn’t right and there are solid reasons for not pursuing an adoption (for those who want to adopt) right at this time.  But I find that a lot of times when I come across families who say they want to adopt but because they are in seminary or they are in grad school or they are in seminary housing or they aren’t sure what job they will have next or that they aren’t making near as much as they think they should in order to be able to adopt they tell themselves they can’t right now. I went to Seminary and I found that while yes, finances can be tight, that most families have a ton of spiritual support, nearby friends and neighbors who help out with needs and provide deep friendships, that time in grad school/seminary often takes a lot longer than expected so what at one time was delaying an adoption by a few years can quickly turn into 8-10 years. Growing your family through adoption is not different than growing it through pregnancy… there are a lot of unknowns, risks, financial aspects, and untold investment of emotions and energy. BUT what an awesome community and time of life to be on an adoption journey. I bet you have a fabulous network of families in your area/church who have adopted already or have a passion for adoption and will help you through these steps of bringing your child home! And goodness, what would happen if  seminary/grad students who love the gospel decided to foster for the time period that they were in school there, knowing that it was a way to serve their city and invest in children’s lives for the sake of the gospel as well as impact countless other people in that process. Seminary students… finding it hard to meet and love on those who need Jesus? There is a radical way to shine a BIG spotlight onto His grace and love and spectacular sufficiency in all things to the community God’s placed you in!

Writing this… I KNOW the difficulty of student life, I know the pulls on your time and how strapped financially it can leave you…I’ve been there!! Honestly, there were many things I put on the back burner because of being a student… when Dan and I got married and he was still in school… it was the same thing, life felt unsettled but looking back I’m amazed at how blessed and truly settled it was. We were so wealthy in friendships and community and even in our work.  I’m not saying  “dang the consequences, you need to foster or adopt!” I’m simply saying, that if you are feeling led and you can’t shake the desire that your family should be open to adoption… don’t use your current life of temporary student status to stop you from moving forward and seeing where God leads! He can always shut doors and say… not yet! But why don’t you let Him show you that clearly instead of just assuming that because of your circumstances you couldn’t be used in this way yet.

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Low Income:   How you manage your finances is much more important than how much you make. Do you live above your means? Are you taking in less than is going out on a monthly basis? This is what matters most.  I’ve seen sites that say that the minimum is $25,000 to adopt in the US. But that might include assests and other forms of provision as well.  Also, when fostering and adopting through the state I’m pretty sure that they are first and foremost concerned that you are able to provide for a child. (and when money is tight generally… that’s when us mommies and daddies get creative and make use of all sorts of rescources available to parents… thrift stores, hand me downs, buying food in bulk, making your own cleaners, going on creative outings that don’t cost a lot… etc. Kids LOVE that kind of stuff. They don’t need the nicest or newest or even their own a lot of times. My children now have a girls room and a boys room but all they want to do is be together ALL the time! My girls play with army guys and my boys love the house/grocery store/life kind of toys the girls have. I’ve used the same highchair for 5 kids now. And GOD has been more than faithful to provide things like car seats and cribs and clothes exactly when we needed them… not when we would have like to have them… when we NEEDED them! We have struggled making ends meet since we’ve been married… we aren’t the best at budgeting… we have debt but are always working to eliminate it… We don’t have extra money laying around… we don’t have a ton of savings… By most people’s standards we haven’t been in the best place to adopt financially. BUT God asked us to trust Him. And often it’s been in months that we couldn’t make ends meet that He’s asked us to move forward towards bringing another mouth to feed into our home. And He has ALWAYS provided for us!!

George Muller was a well known man of God in the 1800’s. He built and ran orphanages in England.  Müller never made requests for financial support, nor did he go into debt, even though the five homes cost over £100,000 to build. Many times, he received unsolicited food donations only hours before they were needed to feed the children, further strengthening his faith in God. For example, on one well-documented occasion, they gave thanks for breakfast when all the children were sitting at the table, even though there was nothing to eat in the house. As they finished praying, the baker knocked on the door with sufficient fresh bread to feed everyone, and the milkman gave them plenty of fresh milk because his cart broke down in front of the orphanage.

If someone were to do the above today they would be called irresponsible for trying to take on that many children or at the very least dubbed pure crazy!! But there was such a need and Muller although didn’t have the finances and wasn’t wealthy at all, knew that his God owned the cattle on a thousand hills. He is known for saying “Faith does not operate in the realm of the possible. There is no glory for God in that which is humanly possible. Faith begins where man’s power ends.”

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* This is in no way a complete list of all those who can adopt… these are just ones I wanted to highlight and dispell any myths surroundings who can adopt and who can’t.    

 

This is day 5 of 31 days of Adoption.  Visit this page to see a list of all the posts, updated daily (or trying to at least). 

 

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