Passport to adoption

Passport to Adoption

Photo by thedesertfox03, Flickr

On Monday I applied for my passport. I’ve traveled throughout the lower forty-eight, been to this place and that, but I’ve never gone abroad. I hope to go soon.

Megan and I are planning on adopting from Uganda. We’re working on our paperwork now. There are letters and reports and statements and evaluations and more. We’re almost done. But it’s been a long road so far.

We started looking at domestic adoption back in January. We jumped through those hoops and remain very grateful for the help our agency lent us in the process. We did the paperwork, the interviews, the background checks, all of it. And then we hit the pause button.

We started talking about adoption when we were dating. I remember the first time we discussed it. It was one of the moments I knew that we were right for each other. Megan and I mesh in a million ways, but when you’re just starting a relationship there’s a certain tentativeness, hesitation, and provisionality to things. What if she says the wrong thing? What if I say the wrong thing? Tomatoh or, cringe, tomatah?

Megan tossed out the idea and waited to see if I’d freak out. Far from it. I was already inclined toward the idea. There is so much of the Gospel wrapped up in adoption. Through Christ we’re adopted into the family of God. As an extension and picture of that, true religion is “visit[ing] orphans and widows in their affliction….” Adoption is Christian faith in action.

The conversation was invigorating. At that moment we knew something definitive about each other, something affinitive about each other, too. It was a soft-focus scene, I can tell you. (The grace of it all, if I’m allowed a bit more gushing, is that we ended up being right for each other in more ways than we could have guessed or anticipated at the time. Wow.)

But there we were. Pause button. There are several reasons we cooled on the domestic adoption idea, all of which could probably slide under the header of a certain disquiet about things. Domestic adoption is good and admirable—and older children and sibling groups especially need loving arms and homes. When you see the traits that make a child difficult for an agency to place, it’ll break your heart in two. But Megan and I couldn’t get peace about it. Maybe we were wrong about things, after all.

We disengaged from the process.

But then, out of the blue, some doors began opening up to Africa. That lit the fires. Megan had been to Uganda about ten years before (she’s much better traveled than am I), and that trip sparked her passion for adoption in the first place. Suddenly we started thinking about Africa. Uganda is tricky, and Ethiopia at first seemed like a better option, but Uganda kept pulling at us. We read blogs. We viewed pictures. We watched videos. Every hope you have in life is confirmed by those stories.

We’ve been exploring the options there, and doors continue to open. When one way turned out blocked, several others came into view. We have peace about Uganda. And excitement.

So there I was standing at the passport counter at my local post office, the clerk’s hands flipping through papers, stamping this, signing that, and then suddenly placing in my upturned palms a receipt and some additional documents. It was done. My application was filed.

I’ll have my passport in a few weeks, and the whole journey now feels very real.

About Joel J. Miller

I'm the author of Lifted by Angels, a look at angels through the eyes of the early church. Click here for more about me or subscribe to my RSS here.

  • http://www.meghmiller.com Megan Miller

    I am so grateful we’re on this road together. It’s is a joy and an adventure to watch God’s plans for our family unfold. I love you!

    • http://joeljmiller.com Joel J. Miller

      Love you too, babe. I’m blessed beyond words.

  • http://www.lindseynobles.com Lindsey Nobles

    Can’t believe you’ve never been abroad. So excited for you guys in this season.

    • http://joeljmiller.com Joel J. Miller

      I know. I’m pretty jazzed.

  • http://www.jonathan-rogers.com Jonathan Rogers

    This is very exciting, Joel. My wife went to Uganda for two weeks in July. It was an inflection point in her life. She’s going to be very excited to hear about this.

    • http://joeljmiller.com Joel J. Miller

      That’s fantastic. We should hook up and chat.

  • http://www.villageadsseo.com Tim Biden

    Thank you!!! I wish more Christians thought like this. My wife and I are outcasts at our church because we have no desire to have our own children but would rather foster or adopt middle or high school aged kids. We want to have almost a revolving door of getting one kid into college or a good job and bring in the next kid.

    Within our church we are constantly being asked about our kids and when we say that we don’t have any, the conversation ends and the ones asking about our kids go talk to other people that have kids.

    Thank you for this blog post. I hope lots of people read it!

    • http://joeljmiller.com Joel J. Miller

      That’s very disheartening. The truth is that kids the ages you’re discussing need families and there are few families for them. One of the reasons that domestic (and foreign, for that matter) adoptions take so long is that everyone wants healthy babies. From what I’ve seen the real orphan crisis is with kids that are older and basically unwanted. If you feel called to that, I can think of few things more Christlike than pouring your life into those kids.

      • http://www.villageadsseo.com Tim Biden

        That is what we feel called to.

        I am actually afraid of babies. Before they can talk, they scare me. After that, we’re cool. And my wife is a high school teacher who doesn’t want to go through the whole pregnancy process.

        I have known more than a few kids who went through the system when they were in middle and high school and I want to give a home to those that most people don’t want. They are no less in need of homes, they are just less desirable to most couples.

        We are praying that this is the Lord’s will and if not, that he will guide us back onto the path that he wants us to be on. Until then, this is the path that we have chosen.

  • Mark

    Hi Joel

    Congratulations to you and Megan for starting out on this! My wife and I have adopted 2 kids now in Tanzania where we are living and working. Dealing with the system can be a challenge but so worth it!

    Something I would really like to advise if I may? I’m sure your agency will advise this stuff but we’ve found it useful to follow.

    For us it’s really important to get to know the Ugandan language, culture and people as much as possible. We’ve found that our kids need anchor points. If they’re orphans with no family history, their family history starts with you guys, and that can be tough as they get older. Feeling connected to where they came from will be really important. We’re in a much easier position because we’re living in country, but we’re committed once we do get repatriated to visiting once a year. We try to embrace Tanzanian culture and language in our home. We also try to connect our kids with role models who are Tanzanians.

    Anyway, I’m sure you will have lots of support and advice as you get going. I wish you guys all the best with it! Enjoy your first trip to Africa – the flight is a bit of a long one from the US :o )

    • http://joeljmiller.com Joel J. Miller

      We have heard some of these things and really appreciate hearing more. Our ears are wide open and we’re wanting to learn.

  • http://www.tonyjalicea.com Tony Alicea

    I’m really excited for you Joel. I agree wholeheartedly with you in that adoption is Christian faith in action (James 1:27). This is something that I am passionate about.

    If you don’t mind me asking, can you provide a little more detail on the “Pause” at domestic adoption? I sometimes struggle with this because I see a lot of Christians almost make international adoption glamorous and noble while children in our own cities go without mothers and fathers (not saying that this is the case with you at all).

    I don’t have a problem with international adoption per se, I just don’t see as much of a focus on domestic adoption in the church when there are children crying out in our own backyard.

    • http://joeljmiller.com Joel J. Miller

      I agree that there can be a mystique or glamorization that happens with foreign adoption. I think the same thing happens a bit with any transracial adoption. The challenge is not to exoticize — particularly, as you point out, at the expense of people who not only your neighbors in the lofty sense, but also in the local sense, however unglamorous they may be.

      In our case, because of our particular family situation we have some concerns that we’re trying to navigate and that has led us away from domestic adoption for now, as well as older children. I would say that the door is ajar for the future.

  • http://twitter.com/jameybennett jamey w. bennett

    Joel and Megan,
    My heart rejoices with you guys! This is an incredible step for your family, and for this child that the Lord loves dearly.
    May God guide and direct you in the coming journey!
    Jamey

  • http://www.imperfectpeople.net Katie

    I found your blog through Michael Hyatt (on twitter). Love it! My favorite part is Adoption is Christian faith in action. Thanks for sharing!

  • Rick Veenstra

    Although our path has been different, I recognise a lot in what you write. That you discussed adoption while you were dating, same with us. We also saw Gods plans for our family unfold in ways we never would have planned ourselves. He opened doors and showed us the way.
    We have always trusted God for leading us to the place and the task He had prepared for us. We had no idea what that would be when we married. We knew there would be some kind of void, probably a place for children, in our marriage. Were sure He would show His purpose for it. And He did, of course.
    We thought a lot about permanent foster parenthood instead of domestic adoption, since the latter is very uncommon over here in The Netherlands. But somehow we could not find peace with it. Until a couple in our church adopted a second child from Sri Lanka and we had the privilege of holding her in our arms. That convinced us that international adoption was our way.
    After 3.5 years of waiting and paperwork and a lot more waiting we held our eldest son in our arms. Born in Taiwan and 14 months old. What a treasure and what a responsibility. And after him the Lord gave two other girls a place in our family.
    Our path has been rough since. We had to leave a third adopted child in Taiwan because her handicaps turned our to be too severe and legal complications forced us to revert the adoption. She became subject of new jurisprudence, which was not was we envisioned for her and for ourselves. Our eldest son turned out to have mental handcaps and shows autistic behaviour. But still we are firmly convinced that this was Gods plan. Christ was very clear when he said that even our hairs are numbered (Mat. 10:30). We have been given the task to raise these -His- precious children. That is a great responsibility an a great gift at the same time. As I once read, raising a child is the greatest joy one can be given and at the same time source of the deepest pain. Because the pain _is_ the joy. Because being part of the lives of your children means sharing in their joy as well in their tears and pain. That is love.
    God bless you both. May He let you be a blessing for one or more parentless children.

  • http://www.rachelhauck.com Rachel Hauck

    Watching this with you all! Living vicariously. God had other plans for us, and we’re at peace, but something like this would’ve been Plan A for me in an alternate space.

    BIG GOD BLESSINGS!
    Rachel

  • http://kcougs.wordpress.com Kevin George Carey

    One of the earliest conversations my now wife and I had when we were dating was about adoption and how adoption can change the world one family and one kid at a time. You are so right that “[a]doption is Christian faith in action.” Thanks for a great post


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