I remember our conversation like it was yesterday. I was in Mississippi for the wedding of my brother and my then future sister-in-law April. April and I were in Tupelo on our way to get our nails done, chatting about randomness when adoption came up. “So where would you get the baby? Here or from another country?” she asked. I replied, “Oh here for sure. I’d never go to another country to adopt a kid. That’s just crazy. We’d do foster care here. I would never travel that far, and I’d never leave my own kids to go pick up another.”
Parents, you know when you tell your kids to clean their room and they say they’re not gonna do it? You don’t even get mad over their little declaration of independence. You just chuckle and say, “We’ll see about that.” Because you’re the parent. And you’re the boss. And YOU know that it doesn’t matter if that room is clean in 10 minutes or 10 hours, your kid is gonna clean that room! God must have had a good little laugh at my conversation with April that day because eight months later, Kevin and I submitted our application to our first adoption agency to adopt a child from China.
Eight months later, we were in a new home in another state, trying to get our adoption paperwork back on track. When it became clear that we could not continue with that agency, we moved on and applied to adopt with another agency. Exactly eight months later, we received our referral for Caleb.
And now, here we are. T minus eight…counting down our days until we leave for China to get our sweet boy. I haven’t packed a thing. Other than a pile in the corner of Caleb’s room, we are unprepared. Everything around here has just been “business as usual” because of our already crazy schedule. Baseball practice and church activities and cheer competitions and playdates and school stuff and messy houses still happen even though our whole world is about to change. Part of me is ecstatic. I can’t wait to hold Caleb, and I can’t wait to see China, and I can’t wait to meet the other families on our journey. I can’t wait to introduce Caleb to his siblings, and I can’t wait to see his reaction to our cats, and I can’t wait for him to understand that we are family. (Cue Sister Sledge. In your brain. Right now. Good luck NOT humming that the rest of the night!) And there’s the part of me that is feeling a little sad. I’m sad that our other kids will probably feel a little jealous when Caleb needs a lot of attention. I’m sad that after China, I won’t be able to have naptime snuggles every day with Waverly as easily. I’m sad that Annalise will be displaced to the back seat of the car to accommodate two car seats in the second row. I know in my heart though that all these worries will fade when I see us all together finally. How our family will grow emotionally and spiritually will make these little potential sadnesses pale in comparison to the joy and love that we will soon know in becoming a family of six.
For the past six months, I have shared my heart and soul with you regarding our adoption. Now that we’re so close to traveling, can I ask you all a favor? Can you pray? Not just for us, but for all adoptive families. Here are some specific things:
-Pray for the hearts of those waiting to be brought home. While we have had years to prepare for the changes ahead, the adoptive children likely have not. Caleb at only 11 1/2 months old obviously can’t be prepared for being taken away from the only life he currently knows, but the older children can. Unfortunately, I have heard that in some cases, the children hear about their adoptive families minutes before being ushered out of the orphanages. This is where we need God to work in ways that only He knows how to prepare them for the transition.
-Pray for the safety of the families that are traveling.
-Pray for the kids that are currently in the home. We hope we have prepared our kids as much as possible, but nothing can fully prepare a family for the reality of a toddler or older child who is displaced and unhappy and very much in need of all mom and dad’s attention at first.
-Pray for peace and wisdom for the families as they uncover the “medical mysteries” that come with their adopted children. The medical files are sometimes inaccurate, or a diagnosis is made after a child is brought home.
-Pray that more families are encouraged to step forward in faith to give a child a loving, stable home, whether that is through foster care, domestic adoption, or international adoption.
*Honesty alert* It would have been so easy to ignore God’s command to care for orphans. David Platt notes, “Orphans are easier to ignore before you know their names. They are easier to ignore before you see their faces. It is easier to pretend they’re not real before you hold them in your arms. But once you do, everything changes.” Our costs…financial costs, emotional costs, worry, time spent, stress…they would have been less if we had said, “No.” But the spiritual cost would have been far greater.
Many of you have seen this video already, but I encourage you to watch it again. This is what we would have missed by saying, “No.”
The cost would have been too great for us and for Caleb if we had ignored God’s nudge.
The Big Sister/Little Brother shirts have been ordered for Waverly and Caleb. (Please. Braden and Annalise were like, “Noooooo.”) Caleb’s room is ready. I have typed up a 10 page schedule for the grandmothers. (Yes, it is necessary. Our family calendar is insane.) I have stocked the freezer full of kid foods. (Eat chicken nuggets and ice cream every day, kids. JUST DON’T FIGHT!) All that’s left is to pack and go get the newest Phillips’ kid.
If you happen to wake up at 2:30 am on Monday, March 23, smile and say a little prayer and know that our waiting is over. We will have Caleb in our arms, and our new journey as a family of six will begin.