I won’t ever forget watching The Fonz, water skiing in his leather jacket, jump over a small ocean corral of sharks. For years, I had heard of this “jump the shark” moment, but I could never have imagined just how random/stupid this stunt really was.
Our adoption journey had a jump the shark moment a few weeks ago. Our caseworker, despite knowing our adoption preferences, sent us the profile of a much older kid.
At first, I was okay with our case worker testing the waters. Sure, Tab and I could give this child a last name, a place to crash, and help them get ready for life. Sure, we could pack in all of the important life lessons, we would have taught them over the years, into one year of their life. I was okay with the idea of adopting a 17 year old–would especially like to look into this once our son is older–, until I wasn’t.
Our adoption process has been marked with friends and family making small comments that burrow deep under my skin. Comments such as:
“Why don’t you do foster and adoption like we did? You’ll get a kid then.”
“And we were told that we’d never get a child if we went the route that you have.”
“You shouldn’t be frustrated, hurt, or angry over this process, God has this under control.”
“Oh, I’ve heard horror stories about older kids being adopted.”
I don’t think that these comments are meant to be hurtful but they are.
I am forever thankful for those that ask us how the process is going. Those that are willing to listen and not necessarily push their way of doing things. God has brought good friends to walk alongside us on this journey.
I haven’t written as much on adoption lately because there hasn’t been much to say. Silence, from our caseworker, continues to be the norm. I have also felt God telling me to pray more and write/talk less about it. I’m sure there is a balance to that though.
If you think about my family, could you take a moment and pray with us? Every morning I wake up to see the room across the hall is empty. Someone is missing. Could you pray over that with me? That God would have His way. That we would be able to listen/discern the route we need to take. I’d really appreciate it.
Can I admit that prayer is not one of my strong suits? I can read the Bible all day. I can teach through the Bible with ease. When it comes to prayer though, prayer is something that I have to work at.
That God would maximize Pam’s incredible gift of hospitality—and that I would be fully supportive. I add that latter phrase because I’m an introvert while Pam’s an extrovert. I love seeing Pam’s joy when she serves others. I just need to love it more….
Tabitha also has an incredible gift of hospitality. A gift that I too push against with my introvert nature. I need to work on being supportive when Tab wants to invite others over. Even when that invite pushes me out of my comfort zone.
God has been speaking to me a lot about prayer these past couple of days. A friend posted a quote, to Facebook, that I’ve been thinking on:
The things you pray about are the things you trust God to handle. The things you neglect to pray about are the things you trust you can handle on your own. – H.B. Charles Jr.
Got me thinking about:
How I’ll often talk more / write more on certain topics than pray over them.
How there are some prayers I don’t think God will ever answer–me being honest here–, so I quit praying over them due to lack of answer.
What type of spiritual legacy, I’m modeling, for my wife and son.
Tabitha has always told me that God answers prayer in 3 ways:
Reminds me of how long I prayed for my wife before we even knew one another. How I went through years of thinking I’d never find someone. Only to meet Tabitha when I was least expecting.
Reminds me of our current adoption process. How I find the silence and slowness of the process to be heart breaking. But I realize also that I need to pray more over the process as God says not yet.
Prayer is that unused tool, on my spiritual tool belt, that I need to actively use more. Not use in order to get what I want, per se, but use to communicate with my Heavenly Father and deepen my relationship with Him.
How about you, do you find the spiritual discipline of prayer to be easy?
Foster care is a lot different than just straight adoption. But I can relate to a chunk of this piece. The training/on-going training, the background checks, and the rules that we’ll have to follow–for six months–once we have a placement.
Like missionaries, significant preparation is needed to enter the field of foster care. Just to start, those who take on this role, must go through hours of training, complete a home study evaluation where their homes, families, finances, and lifestyle are evaluated, complete criminal, abuse and FBI clearances, and regularly submit to on-going training and re-evaluation. Once approved as a foster care placement, they are subject to many rules and regulations, social work visits, and parenting guidelines.
Last year, when Tabitha and I were going through adoption certification/PRIDE classes, I shared with a coworker the journey we had begun. Somewhere in that very honest conversation, she said to me, “I just don’t understand white people adopting black children, acting like white saviors.” While our conversation ended well, I was quite taken aback and felt hurt. Tab and I had started our adoption journey because we felt God calling us to do so. We felt Him telling us to proceed. We’ve both said that we can provide a stable home for someone who has not been given that stability. Never in my mind did I ever see myself nor my wife as some sort of white saviors. Apparently though, those thoughts exist in others. I had known that the adoption process was about developing thicker skin, but I had not known just how thick it was going to have to become.
In our adoption classes, we would hear about how we would need to expose our potential black adopted children to black culture. At the same time, we were never told what black culture is.
From white friends, I’d hear, “Well, if you adopt a black child, you are going to need to expose them to people like their own, black culture.”
I would reply, “What is black culture? How does that differ from white culture? Do you even know what you are saying/talking about?”
My heart hurts.
My heart hurts over George Floyd’s death at the knee of a police officer who knew what he was doing.
My heart hurts over the 3 other police officers standing nearby not intervening as George Floyd complained about not being able to breath.
I can’t wrap my mind around this situation. The blatant injustice on public display. How a moment in time could be escalated to the point where someone dies intentionally at the hands of those who are supposed to uphold justice.
I want justice for George Floyd.
In the same breath, I wonder about bringing a black child into my home. Raising this child in a white family. Worrying about the possibility of them being killed, by a police officer, due to the tone of their skin.
As a white male, I don’t think too much about being killed by a police officer during a traffic stop. Last year though, I was pulled over for making a right hand turn into an outer lane versus the lane closest to the curb. I watched as the police officer drove past me and then made a quick u-turn to come after me. I couldn’t figure out what I had done. Daily, I watch other drivers make the same type of turn I had just made. After thinking about it, I think I wasn’t pulled over for turning wrong. No, I think I was targeted due to the condition of my car and the perceived nature of my skin.
Note: My Honda has black paint that has been peeling for ages. The car is nice on the inside but looks rundown from the outside. I call it camouflage!
As the young officer walked up to my car, I noticed a change come over his demeanor. I could tell that he thought I was going to be either black or Hispanic, but not white. As he told me why I was pulled over–which to me seemed like he was reaching for a technicality–he told me he was going to let me off with a warning.
Now, every time I pull up to that traffic light where I was pulled over, I make sure to practice the correct type of lane change. I also get a little angry, remembering that day, remembering feeling targeted because of the condition of my car. If that incident was but a small taste of what black people deal with, in America, on a daily basis, I cannot even imagine living like that.
I know that we live in a fallen world. That Jesus is coming back. But I hate the injustice that I see around me. I hate the helpless feelings that I can’t do anything to bring about change. I hate having to think that someone that we bring into our home, no matter our parenting nor love, could still be the target of such heinous acts.
I am thankful to serve a God who is bigger than all of this. That I don’t have to shoulder all of these thoughts and feelings alone. I am thankful for serving a God who can give wisdom, discernment, and guidance to us on how to proceed in the midst of such racism. I am thankful for His call to adoption, no matter the color of skin.
I figure that if my family can be a model of God’s love to just one child, perhaps he or she can make an impression and help change the world for the better until His return. And while we are waiting for that child, black or white, I have my own son to teach.
Adoption is messy. Conversations about race are messy. But we need to listen, talk, and act towards a brighter future.
I had one of those difficult conversations last night with a foster mother. She talked about a recent placement her and her husband had received. As she unpacked a story that included:
Level of care being misrepresented
Messed up family drama on a scale you know exists but try to not think about
I was reminded that these children need an advocate–and not just the children she was talking about, all children in the foster care system–. Someone to fight for them, to push back against doctors / teachers / life; Someone to provide a place of stability after living in what I’d call a war torn home. There comes a point, when you are listening to such a story, where feelings of empathy and ultimately justice kick in. You can’t help but feel for these children; children who have done nothing to deserve the adult situations they have been plopped into. Makes me thankful for those who have been called to foster and who provide a sense of normalcy and stability while birth parents have a chance to figure things out / get their lives together.
As the foster mom talked, I could feel a small thread of fear trying to grip me. An inner voice saying, “This is the type of horror story you’ve heard about. This could happen to you and Tabitha! You could be placed with a child that has been misrepresented to you AND has all sorts of problems.” As I pushed back on that fear, the foster mom kept saying, “God has called us to this, and He will see us through it.” Amen.
I love how God used this conversation to strengthen my resolve. Reminding me that children are out there, hurting, needing a place of stability. I stand firm, in God-given peace, that He has called us to adoption.
This is not to say that I am not still wondering about timing. I am not good at waiting. God first spoke to Tabitha and I in January of last year (2019). Calling us to move past our 10+ year grief of infertility; calling us to adopt.
I still remember the peace I felt going to the first informational meeting with the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services (DFPS).
How quickly we were plugged into a PRIDE Training Class.
The crazy stories we heard while in training.
The 30 minute drives to Marshall, where I had Tabitha all to myself to talk / unpack / dream / decompress.
How happy we were when training ended at the beginning of May.
How after completing the Home Study / various hoops, our family was certified to adopt at the beginning of August.
Adoption is a process. The Hall Family is still in that process. At the beginning of December, we met with our Adoption Development Worker. She said that she had not found any children that were a good fit for our home. So we wait knowing that our God is big, His timing is good, and that He loves us.
November is National Adoption Month. In church, we’ll typically show a video or two that highlight the need for adoptive families for children in foster care. Online, say on social media such as Facebook, you may see graphics highlighting the need like the one below released by Buckner International:
Tabitha and I are in the midst of the adoption process, as you may well know. A process, that we are finding, is filled with weeks and even months of silence. I was recently about to email our caseworker to see if her email address was working when she suddenly made contact. Our caseworker wanted us to know that she is still looking for us and has not found any potential matches.
If you look at the graphic above, you’ll see that there are 452 kids waiting to be adopted here in Longview. But note my previous paragraph, specifically the part where no match has been found for us, even though there are a supposed 452 kids waiting. I can’t help but get a little passionate. You’d think out of that 452, which are JUST here in Longview (not across the State of Texas even), there would be one child for us.
Having attended foster/adoption classes and being certified to adopt, I realize that there are many variables in this equation:
Level of Care (we are certified for basic level)
Special Needs (Behavioral, Physical, Learning, Risk Factors, Emotional, Medical, Developmental)
But at the same time, I bristle a bit at the above graphic. I understand that it communicates that there is a need for families. At the same time, the longer we spend in this process (which to be honest, hasn’t been super long, only since May), the more I see that the need is not so much for adoptive families but for families to support the system through foster care.
I would hope that during National Adoption Month, that you would indeed see that while the need is great, the need is also complicated. These kids are immersed in a complicated system… What drives me nuts is that I know that Tabitha and I can provide stability. We are here to fill that need in a child’s life. There are just so many variables, so many factors, between us and our potential son or daughter.