There I was, sitting in my car in the grocery store parking lot. Between stores I negotiated another decision about a possible adoption match. These calls come in at any time of the day. They interrupt the ‘regular programming’ to insert a highly stressful, yet highly anticipated and hopeful story arc to our daily narrative. This call happened over a year ago. No, I didn’t write about it then, nay, I couldn’t write about it. The current trajectory of our adoption journey was incredibly rocky and uncertain. Emotional pain stung my heart as I turned over and over how this road might play out as we transitioned to a new assignment in our lives. Would there be room for a baby now? If we had a newborn, how would we get the much needed rest before jumping into the deep end of moving across the country and starting a new ministry? But, if we waited until we moved to our new state, we’d have to start the adoption approval process all over. I felt tired and deflated. This wasn’t how I thought our adoption story would play out.
So, December 2021, I sat in my van with the engine running and the heat turned up and took in all the adoption social worker was telling me. Dare I hope? Dare I dream? Dare I bring this option up with my ‘other half’? The opportunity sounded too perfect. An established mother who was surprised by this pregnancy and not really able to start from scratch with a newborn. Making an adoption plan made sense to her and maybe I’d be the adoption parent to her baby. If I said yes, and if she said yes, we’d have the baby in 2 months! We’d complete this phase of our adoption journey while still living in the state we’d been approved in and wouldn’t that just put a nice bow on things? Could this be it? Could this really be the long-awaited addition to our family? Or would this be taking things into my own hands and forcing the outcome that I wanted instead of waiting on God.
You see, I could feel it. I felt that this wasn’t the time to bring a baby into our home. I even had an inkling that this wasn’t the baby for our family. The Lord was softly nudging my heart toward saying, ‘No’ to this opportunity. I didn’t want to hear that! I wanted to feel euphoric and have this amazing God-story about adoption NOW. I didn’t want to wait any longer. I wanted my dream fulfilled. All this wrestling happened inside of me while on the phone with the social worker, while I continued my errands and while I drove back home. I hated this. I knew that what I grasped for was not going to be had. This just wasn’t going to happen and I wouldn’t allow myself to force it either. So, I hesitantly shared this possible match with my husband. Perhaps, if he felt like it was a ‘Yes’ then I could move forward with the match! But, in my heart of hearts, I knew he’d also agree that it wasn’t the right moment to add a sweet addition to our family. Sure enough, that’s how it panned out. So, with sad resolution, I told our adoption social worker that we were going to pass on pursuing this adoption match.
Letting go is so hard. Pausing a dream feels devastating because there’s often a bit of doubt that the process will never start up again. If I let go of this in-front-of-me opportunity, would I ever get another one? And then… the people pleaser inside of me kicked into high gear. (As an aside, can I just say that I’d get along much easier without this overactive part of me? It is something I have learned to continuously keep in check while making choices that affect me, my family, my friends, and ministry. Aside over.) The people pleaser reminded me of all the people who sowed into our adoption journey. It criticized me for things I had said in hopeful anticipation… Did I lead people on by accident? It shamed me for allowing others to help us before we even had a ‘bird in the hand’… I shouldn’t have accepted anything from anyone until I knew that this was a done deal… so much for faith, huh? It mocked me for thinking that God would come through on this dream in my time-table… Did I really think I’d be the ‘special’ one and have our adoption in less than the average time frame? Oh man! It was horrible! It still hurts as I write about it more than a year later. It hurts because my dream is on pause and I still have doubts that assail me – doubts that I diligently keep in check so that I can keep this dream alive in my heart.
You guys, dreaming is hard stuff! Dreams are so often painted in a fairy-tale, gonna-get-what–you-want, never-gonna-be-hard-when-you’re-in-God’s-will type of picture. That’s NOT it. I’m living out a dream out right now and it’s not a perfect and easy process. I’ve cherished this dream since childhood, early adulthood and beginning motherhood. I’ve waited so long and yet, when it was finally time to open up that keepsake-dream, the waiting continued. My faith has been bumped and jostled. It’s been thrown around and stretched and squished and still, I can’t see the form it will be. What I pictured at the beginning is not what I’m currently experiencing. Dreaming is hard. Holding a dream is hard. Walking out a dream is hard. I’ve even heard that fulfilling a dream is hard.
So, what do I do? I could give up. I could toss that dream away like it was a mistake. I could close it back up in the box I took it out of. It could just be a pretty keepsake on the metaphorical shelves of my life. OR… I could push so hard into this dream that I take the reins from God. I could steer it wherever I think it should go and not give a second thought to His plan and process. Growth through this process? No, thank you. I’ll just short-cut the time and keep my stunted heart and mind, thank you very much. …. Yeah, neither of those sound like great options.
Now, we’re back to waiting. But not waiting just to wait. Waiting with a purpose. Growth? Yes! I will grow as I wait. I will learn as I wait. The Lord can teach and train my heart and mind so much… as… I… wait. Waiting is a part of God’s plan and process in all this. He really does know so much better than I, what I need before cherishing a new child in our home. The baby (a fulfilled dream) is out there and I don’t know where or when. But each step I take with my arms empty only gives me more opportunity for the Lord to temporarily place other things in them to love and cherish. Who knows? These other things very well might be the things that teach me exactly what I need so I am more than ready when this dream is fulfilled.
Waiting. Stewarding. Cherishing. Preparing. Learning. Growing. These words and more describe exactly where I’m at right now. Maybe this dream is on pause, or maybe, just maybe it’s still on PLAY. Some things I won’t know before the dream is here. What I do know is that I must keep hoping. I must keep believing (cue the sung phrase ‘Don’t Stop Believing’). I must keep choosing Christ over all else, even over my dream. He is the only one who can keep my heart just where it needs to be as I prepare.
Presently, I’m still dreaming about adoption. It hasn’t been put back on the shelf. It’s not thrown out or hidden away. But, it is certainly changing form and shape from what I thought it’d be. Like a lump of clay on a potter’s wheel, this dream started out with the idea of a specific look, but it’s taking its own shape. I believe it will be better than I could ever think up on my own. I’ll keep following the Dream Giver and look forward with hopeful anticipation to the fulfillment of this dream. Until then, here I am… walking things out day by day.
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