Don’t let your plans own you


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Since Josh and I decided to adopt independently, meaning that we didn’t use an agency, we kind of bypassed the usual required classes and meetings of the adoptive process.  Now, obviously, since I didn’t experience the process through an agency, I don’t know much about it, but I do know that most offer, and some require, classes that will prepare parents for the process as well as for life with an adopted child. I imagine it being somewhat like teaching someone to swim before letting them get in the pool, or at least offering them a flotation device. Whereas we basically just fell into the deep end and it was sink or swim.

With regard to all of the legal steps required to bring a child home from another country, I think we could have used a flotation device. If only because completing all of those legal steps was basically like taking on a second job for Josh. And while we had a family who had gone before us guiding us, it was still a lot of work on our part that would have otherwise been delegated to an agency.

But with regard to all that preparation that’s offered…well, I just don’t know if I regret missing out on that. We didn’t attend any classes. I never went to any support group for moms with adopted children. Or for moms with children of a different ethnicity than their own. I didn’t attend any seminar on doing a black girls hair. We didn’t do a lot of research about helping kids adapt to a new culture. And while we may have missed out on some helpful information, we also didn’t develop unrealistic or narrow expectations. We just kind of dove in.

None of those things are wrong. And for some I think it can all be very helpful. And for some, especially those who may be adopting children with special needs or a history of abuse, they are necessary. But I think, if I may say so, that our culture is obsessed with having it all together. We are obsessed with our plans. We love to make sure we’ve got it all figured out ahead of time. It makes us comfortable. And that incessant need to have everything perfectly mapped out can sometimes hinder our willingness to step out in faith. And even if we are stepping out, we may be doing so with no faith at all, but simply a reliance on our own ability to anticipate, prepare, plan and execute.

Let me tell you, we spent a month in Uganda, never knowing what the next day would bring, completely immersed in a culture that doesn’t make plans (because it would be pointless to do so). At the time I hated it. It stressed us out. We would ask our Ugandan friends over and over, “So when are we going to get the judge’s order? So how long does it take to get a passport? So how long should we expect to be here?” We were like broken records. And they would just smile and tell us to relax and repeat that they have no idea because there is no certainty regarding these things. It was infuriating.

But it was perfect. It’s what we needed. We needed to be put in our place. We needed to see how deeply we had fallen into the American illusion of control without even realizing it. Because our entire lives are based on our plans. We have schedules and routines and planners and it all makes us feel like we’re in control. But only One can have control. And we’d better let Him have it.

And because every child is different, and no two adoptions are alike, I think it is probably wise to not prepare too much. It would be much better to pray. A lot. (Or maybe what I’m trying to say is that when and if you prepare for anything God is calling you to, you should do so praying hard). And ask God to make you ready for what you are about to do. Only He knew Eva and Titus, and how they would fit into our family. We couldn’t have prepared for that no matter how much we tried (and we didn’t try much!).

In this sense it is a lot like having a baby. Before we had Reagan, I read at least 3 books on pregnancy, birth, and the first year. I asked every single one of my friends with kids a million questions. I freaked out about everything that could go wrong. I grasped at control. And in the end, I had Reagan and felt like I’d been hit by a bus and said what every first time mom says. Nothing could have prepared me for this.

Of course we should plan and prepare. You know I’m not saying we shouldn’t. As much as I learned from our experience, I don’t live in Uganda. I live here. And if we just stopped planning altogether we wouldn’t function in our society. But let’s not rely too much on our plans. Let’s not be owned by them or driven by them. There is nothing sweeter than turning to our Savior, Jesus, and admitting our full dependence upon Him. He delights in this. This is what faith does. And it allows us to see His hand in all things, to thank Him when it does go according to plan, and to trust His goodness when it doesn’t.



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