Can we get real about the special needs request?
I had read on blogs that it’s the hardest part. I didn’t really believe them. You just think/pray about what you want to be open to, write it down, and you’re done. Right?
Well, no. Because then, you wonder if your request is too narrow. So you add to it. And then you wonder if your request is too broad. And then you lie awake at night trying to figure out if the anxiety you’re feeling is because God wants to stretch your faith, or if the anxiety means you’re not on the right track. And how do you find a balance between wanting a baby sooner, which means a broader request; or trying to make yourself feel comfortable with things you don’t really feel comfortable with because you are pretty much ready to fly to China (or where ever) to pick up that baby right this minute? Or find the balance between knowing that God is sovereign, so it doesn’t really matter what you wrote down; but then He also lets us make mistakes and we have free will, so could it really be possible to totally mess this up? And there is an actual little human sitting in a crib in an orphanage somewhere whose life literally depends on this decision.
It’s intense, y’all.
A few months ago, at a time when I was in total turmoil, I prayed and fasted, and had immediate peace about a very difficult decision – switching programs from Ethiopia to China. I was depressed and frantic for maybe 2 months prior to making the decision, because everywhere I looked felt hopeless. I was scrambling to try to make things fit that didn’t fit, and emailing our very patient social worker at all hours of the night. My sweet husband felt comfortable about switching programs before I did, and had been praying with me for some clarity and direction. Finally, all of the sudden: TOTAL PEACE. It was crazy. My husband was shocked. I’ve never experienced anything like it before.
The last few days/weeks, it happened again. We felt uneasy about our special needs request. I was getting a little obsessed with it, (did y’all notice that I sometimes do that?), so I made myself stop, breathe, and have some intense prayer time. A few days later, my husband came to me and said he felt comfortable adding some things to our request that he hadn’t felt comfortable adding before.** It was not an all-of-a sudden change of our hearts like before, but it was definitely a sense of peace, when just a week or so prior, there had only been turmoil.
I was just talking online with a friend last night who is praying with her husband about their special needs request. One of the things I told her that I think is important, so I’m going to also say it here, is that you can change your request. If, at the beginning, you feel scared and you haven’t had time to do a ton of research, then just start with what you feel comfortable with. Once your dossier is ready and you have some time and emotional space to breathe and pray intensely about it, maybe the Holy Spirit will nudge you to add things to (or remove things from) your list. For my agency, that process is as simple as emailing our social worker about it, then forwarding her answer to our family coordinator.
In summary –
Q: So, how in the world do you wrap your brain around such a huge, scary decision?
A: You don’t. It’s not written in stone. Pray about it, write something down, and move on. Then, later, when you feel ready to, pray about it some more. And, ultimately, God IS sovereign, and He will direct your paths, and if you’re seeking His will, then you can find peace in that.
**Note: I need to note here that I know this process can be even more difficult because it’s TWO people making it. I feel comfortable with things my husband does not, and he feels comfortable with things that stress me out practically-speaking. Wives reading this, my guy gave me some wise insight that I want to share with you. He said that as women, we look at all hurting children and just purely love them and want to rescue them. This is good, and how God designed us. He explained that as a Dad, he wants to FIX it. It grieves him to think about adopting a child with a special need that he will not be able to FIX. Would he adore a child (born to us or adopted) whose special need could not be “fixed?” Of course, in a heartbeat, without hesitation; and we both know that all children are fearfully and wonderfully made and do not need to be “fixed.” But, his primary instinct as a man and a Daddy is to want to be able to make them whole. This is good, and how God designed him. He also knows it would break my heart to turn down a referral, so he wants to make absolutely certain that what is on the list is what we are really prepared to accept. Like so many other things in marriage, we are looking at it in different ways; and God has made us different so that we can work together to figure out a balance. I ultimately deferred to him about our special needs request, and I am praying hard already that I will be able to ultimately defer to him about accepting the referral(s) that we get. He’s prepared to carry the burden of the heavy weight of that decision, like he has other hard decisions in our lives, and I respect and admire him so much for that.