By: Tracy Whitt
When God calls us to do something that will move us to out of our comfort zone, we say, “Okay.” Oh wait, no we don’t. Instead, we say, “I’ll get to that after I __.”
How do we know if God is calling us to move or more specifically, to care for orphans? Here are some ways to know God is talking to us:
• We have a passion for orphans or foster children. I once heard a pastor describe identifying your passion like this, “You become teary eyed within thirty-seconds of talking about (insert subject).” This is a loose definition, but one that is true for me.
• You can’t stop thinking about it.
• It consistently comes up in your life. An example of this happened to some friends we had talked to about adoption. They were considering adoption for their family, and a neighbor, who was unaware of their interest in adoption, brought it up in conversation with them. Our friends said, “We took it as a sign that we aren’t supposed to adopt right now.” God was knocking on their door, but they failed to answer, a not so uncommon occurrence.
Why should we care about God’s call to care for orphans?
Because, if we don’t, who will? Although more people are responding to the great need around the world, there are still currently 100,000 children available for adoption in the U.S., and there are over 100 million orphans worldwide.
When my husband and I were first called to adopt, I felt a strong pull to China. My heart went out to the orphaned girls across the ocean. I was convinced our daughter waited for us in an orphanage in Asia, I envisioned her beautiful olive skin and dark eyes, and I knew we would love her.
However, God was leading me and developing my heart for adoption so that He could meet a child’s need elsewhere. My beautiful olive skinned, dark-eyed girl came from the U.S.; I didn’t have to cross an ocean to meet her.
The wait for China was long, so we decided to do foster care in the meantime. Well, actually, my husband mentioned it, I fought it, and God did a lot of nudging. I was scared! There were so many more considerations when doing foster care. Would the child go back to their birth parents? Would the child hurt my animals? Would I be able to handle taking them to visits with their biological parents? All my questions were all about me. And when adopting and fostering, we need to recognize, it’s not about us.
At some point within a few months, God did a remarkable transformation on my heart. I was no longer worried; I was excited! I was ready to love a child, no matter the obstacles.
We went through our county’s eight-week course to become certified foster parents. They shared the good, the bad, and the ugly. Okay, mostly the ugly side, but I didn’t care, I was still eager to bring a child into our home. It was amazing to experience this feeling that could have only come from God. A God who would continually give me strength, support, and love to pour out through the following years.
Short version: we adopted our two children from foster care. They were our only two placements during our time as foster parents. Our daughter, Payton, has been diagnosed with several disorders stemming from her previous neglect and abuse, but God has been nothing but faithful in helping her heal. God has given us wisdom as we have depended on Him for every need. We’ve seen Him move in her heart, and it’s beyond anything we could have imagined for her.
Our son, Jeremiah, was developmentally delayed from the beginning. When we got the call about his placement, he was three-months-old, and no one would take him because of his parent’s mental health history. Jeremiah was also diagnosed with nonverbal autism and sensory processing disorder just days before his third birthday. To this day, I know those who denied him love, safety, and a chance are the ones who lost out.
Both of our children have taught me the importance of dedication, the strength of love, and how to survive the depths. They have shown me a new perspective in the human race, one that denies judgment and looks at each individual’s strengths.
Between both of our kiddos it has been a tremendous amount of work. I won’t lie, there have been tears of sadness and pain; we have struggled. Our life looks drastically different than most. But without all those difficulties our joys wouldn’t bring us to mountaintops. I wouldn’t have rejoiced when my daughter gave me unsolicited hugs or wanted to dress like me; I would have taken it for granted. Without those trials we wouldn’t celebrate when our son responds to something we say with a giggle, meaning he understood what was said. It’s all exponentially more precious because we see how beloved our children are.
Every rocky moment, hour, day, or week is worth it because our children are worth it. They deserve all of us. They are beginning a brand new life, and we’ve already lived much of ours. They deserve commitment, love, and for us to carry the sword for each battle they’re fighting. We defend them, we love them, and we guide them through their internal battles. We do all of this because God first loved us, and now we can in turn love someone else who was lost.
Tracy Dee Whitt lives in Colorado with her ever-supportive husband and two children. She writes to encourage and support adoptive and foster parents, and those living with Autism at www.lovinadoptin.com. God has given her and her husband tools to help their son and daughter overcome many obstacles, and she hopes to help others who struggle with attachment issues and autism. You can find her on Twitter at https://twitter.com/WordsfromTracy and Facebook at www.facebook.com/LovinAdoptin. Tracy has also written for Adoption Today and Woven Families