I once read somewhere that if you want to have your life turned upside down and inside out, go and adopt a child. I guess in many ways, it’s true. Adoption is stretching and challenging and it’s messy. It’s one of those things that will cause us to look inwardly and examine every motive of our hearts. Adoption has us praying for things that we never considered important before the day that a stranger suddenly became one of us.
I so clearly remember those glorious, busy days leading up to our sweet Hannah-Claire coming home in 2006. I remember meeting other families who had adopted children, and I gleaned any kind of advice from them that I could. I remember spending what felt like hours with a social worker who, it felt like, dissected and analyzed every single piece of our lives. She knew us better than we knew us! And I remember reaching out to those who had gone before us–wholeheartedly clinging to anything that they could tell us about what to expect, what to do, what not to do, and how to ensure that our new daughter would transition as easily as possible into our home.
So many people had such wonderful advice for our eager hearts. We listened, we prayed, and we anxiously awaited that day when we could finally board a flight to China. But there was something that well-intentioned folks didn’t share with us back then. Looking back on our adoption journey over the last eleven years, there was a silent truth that was difficult for many to speak of. Because, after all, speaking of the hard things and difficulty and walking the broken road so often brings unsolicited condemnation and judgment.
There’s a cost of laying down your life and embracing a child whom you have never met, don’t know anything about, and have absolutely no idea what the future will look like with him or her in it.
There’s a cost of saying yes to Jesus when He calls us to go.
And the price will be high. So very high.
This summer I walked through an ache in my heart that has become all too common in my life since adopting children from hard places. It’s one of those moments that leaves my heart gaping wide open and asking the Lord once again, “Why?” “Why must this still hurt so badly?” As anyone who has ever adopted or fostered a child knows so very well, there are hurts. Deep, painful wounds along this road of parenting children in whom the world so often just doesn’t see an iota of worth or value.
And as I fought back tears once again and urged my weary heart to keep my eyes on heaven and not on the things of this earth, I remembered once again that following the Lord in this way–in bringing home broken, vulnerable, sick, disabled, emotionally scarred, hurting children…
It doesn’t just cost a little.
It doesn’t just mean a small sacrifice here and there.
It doesn’t just mean moments of discomfort or reflection where we remember what life used to be like before we chose, by faith, to walk this journey called hard.
Adoption will cost you everything.
Adoption will cost you financially. It may cost you your closest friends or potential new friends to shirk away from your family when the going gets tough. It may cost you extended family members who sometimes just don’t understand why you would choose to add a child to your family who is not your own flesh and blood–let alone skin color. Adoption may even cost you immediate family who simply don’t get it and sadly, reject your precious child. It will cost you when suddenly your family is the one left out–your family is the one who just isn’t worth the effort.
It will cost you emotionally and it will cost you spiritually–you will have moments when clinging to Jesus is your only anchor in the storm.
Bringing children into your home will cost you your life as you once knew it.
And the sacrifice, and the laying down of your own life, and the picking up of your cross and carrying it no matter what or where, and the never-ending road toward finding help and healing for your hurting child, and what feels like the loneliest road ever, and the weariness, and the constant fight for your child’s rights, and the sleepless nights, and the hospital stays, and the opinions of others, and the day in and day out hard stuff…
Oh, the cost!
The cost of our sometimes just barely whispered “Yes, Lord!” in the dark, still hours of the night when He won’t allow sleep to come.
“Yes! Here am I, Lord! Send me,” we utter with a faith that feels so much smaller than a mustard seed.
We pray it and we mean it with all of our hearts and we enter into a life where we learn what it means that our lives are truly not our own…we are His. We are His hands and we are His feet to the broken and the hurting.
And we’re willing to count the cost. No matter what.
My life is different since I prayed that prayer for the first time almost thirteen years ago. I’m not the same person I was back then. The things that were once so important to me? They no longer matter. The issues I used to get all tangled up over? They don’t matter either. My life has been wrecked. In a glorious way!
I have learned that this cost that we count to live this life that He chose for us…it is worth it!
It is worth every hard day, every time we feel like we fail, every rejection, every victory, and every single trial we hobble through.
It is worth every hurt and every time that we have to once again–for the 75th time today–remind ourselves that nothing (absolutely nothing!) in this world compares to being right at the center of His will for our lives.
Because when we can finally get it so deep down in our hearts and know that we know that every cost that we count here on earth…He has already overcome on our behalf. Done. Finished. Paid for.
And if I stood before my Maker today and was given the choice to go back and have the life I once had with more freedom and fewer cares and less responsibility and wonderful sleep and a do-to list with just two things on it for every day and the ability to read more books and to be able to take more vacations and spend more time with friends and buy a beautiful house and drive my dream car…
With tears and a heart overflowing with gratitude for this very life that He chose for me, and the absolute assurance in the steadfast faithfulness of my God, I would look into His face and I would say…
“Continue to have my whole life–every part of me! No matter where you lead me…I will joyfully count the cost.”
Because nine of the most precious children ever who call me Mom…
…are worth every, single cost that I count.