We are the clay, you are the potter; we are all the work of your hand. ~Isaiah 64:8

Monday, November 3, 2008

An unexpected change

Well, it has been quite some time since our last post. While we have spent most of the time waiting on our federal government to tell us we can again become parents (and we still expected our i800A approval to take several more weeks at least), we have had an interesting and unanticipated development.

On Friday, October 17, 2008, we learned our adoption agency would begin adoption services in Ghana. While this may not seem significant, as we had generally not felt called to adopt from Africa, nor equipped and excited to take on the additional challenges the transracial part of transracial adoption brings, there is more to the story. The email we received that day (baring something unforeseen) will change our family history forever. Pretty heady stuff...I know!

I spent the next week in prayer and discernment, not knowing what direction to take in our adoption plans. (While our plans are good, God's plans are always better. Correlation: we plan, and God laughs.) As a side note, I think Kerry reached her decision much quicker, if not more easily. I wasn't sure I'd be able to make a decision. Should we change our adoption country from Armenia to Ghana? I couldn't even describe to Kerry the swirl going on inside of me - it was worse than contemplating becoming a parent the first time!! And there was a newborn baby girl awaiting our decision.... I couldn't sleep that night.

Here's my journal post, which describes the conundrum of emotions/thoughts/fears/tugs I was trying to sort out, why Ghana was attractive, and how I came to peace about it:

[begin journal entry for 10/23/08]

Late last week, we received an email from our adoption agency stating they have started an adoption program in Ghana. Wow. Should we adopt from Ghana instead of Armenia? Our church has been involved with Ghana for more than a decade, and this relationship is growing. Not only has Fr. Filmore been connected with Ghana Archbishop (West Africa province) Justice Akrofi for many years, but our church has been increasing it’s financial aid and mission trips (twice annually) over the past few years, and come under Akrofi’s spiritual headship as we sought orthodox oversight and refuge from ECUSA. [As of this writing, our church is the only US church under his purview.] This development, previously not on our radar, is from God, and requires serious prayer and consideration.

I’ve been praying about this daily since. International (and domestic) adoption has many challenges and places new demands, considerations and skills development requirements on parents. I have accepted these challenges and am preparing myself slowly for them. (Like parenthood in general, are you ever really prepared?) However, transracial adoption is not something for which I’ve mentally and spiritually prepared. It’s like a multiplier – adoption is something like 3x harder (?) than becoming a biological parent, and transracial adoption is 10x harder than that (taking the long view.)

I’m still learning and growing as a parent of my biological children. I’ve accepted my parental inexperience in bringing an adoptive child into our family, and the learning process therewith (I guess I know what I don’t know, and for what I need to watch.)

But this opportunity gives me great pause. The last few days, I’ve been conflicted, trying to sort out how I feel and God’s will in this situation. Is it the right thing for our family and the child? Can I effectively parent a child of color? How shall I handle becoming a minority after always growing up in the majority white world? How will our parents/family members respond? How do we cultivate our daughter’s sense of racial culture and belonging? How do we handle racism? How do we develop the new relationships and “support group” needed for transracial adoptive parents and adoptees? I feel totally unprepared for this new development, and inadequately equipped.

Certainly, we feel our greater church body will be supportive. We have many African Americans in our congregation, quite a few who are from Africa. Also, there’s a white family who adopted an African American boy domestically, and will be adopting his biological brother (when he’s born) in the near future. This is a good starting point.

In talking about this with Kerry, I’ve had a difficult time putting all these feelings into words. I’ve been trying to determine if my reservations are a cause to say this opportunity is not for me/our family, or if I might be resisting God’s will out of fear; fear of change, fear of a lifetime of unsolicited questions and explanations, of dealing with other people’s judgments and ignorance, fear of not having grace in new and difficult situations with which I’ve never dealt and rarely considered, fear of my parenting skills and Christian witness not being up to the task.

Tonight, I’ve been reading some articles on the subject, and they have made me feel more at ease. Really, it was the Holy Spirit which overtook me while reading, and opened my eyes to the tremendous blessing this could be (on many levels), how the Lord could use this to further mold me in His image and advance His kingdom. He showed me it would be difficult, my witness to my children and others would come under more intense scrutiny, I wouldn’t have all the answers and grace required, and I still have much to learn about His tremendous love for us, and sharing it. Most importantly, and most comforting, He showed me I (we) wouldn’t be doing it alone – He would be there guiding me (us).

[end journal entry]

Within hours of thinking it would be a very long time before I could make this decision, not knowing how/when I would get there, realizing uncertainty would mean I had to turn down an available orphan, and keenly aware a "yes" would change everything, I had perfect peace. All things are possible with Him, and the Lord showed me He would bless us and lead us in this.

And thus, we decided to adopt a girl from Ghana!!

She was born a few weeks ago, and we're still awaiting pictures and medical history (and our federal government). We'll have to make some changes to our homestudy, and navigate the federal waters again (although hopefully only a tributary) to change our country of adoption, but we expect it to go pretty quickly.

We thank you all for your prayers, support and interest. Please continue to pray for "the process," our adoption funding (although the $ need just got lowered, in God's provision) and for our little girl's wellbeing. We're very excited!!

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