Sunday, 21 September 2008

Making Plans

This morning at church we looked at Proverbs 16:1-9, and the sermon title was 'making plans'. It was really helpful to be reminded, in the middle of all our adoption plans, of the fact that ultimately we're not in control. Not easy - not at all - but helpful. I think that for those of us who face out-of-control fertility, it's tempting to see the adoption process as a chance to regain some of the control that we've lost over our lives. Even the way other people talk about adoption reinforces this. 'Oh well, you can always adopt'. Leaving aside how hurtful and unhelpful this comment is for about thirty other reasons, it implies that, even if you've failed at reproducing, you'll be able to adopt. Of course, those of us who have spent even thirty minutes in the adoption process should be aware that any control we think we have is a bit of an illusion. After all:

Countries close. (Excuse me for a second while I panic about this).

Some people don't get through the approval process, sometimes for utterly baffling reasons (that'll be another minute hyperventilating).

Referrals don't always turn into adoptions (I feel sick just typing that one).

I can't go on with this list, because I'm starting to feel physically dizzy. And I feel like this is a bit muddled, because my feelings are pretty confused too. On the one hand, I know that all of the above is true. And I know that we haven't been promised a successful adoption. On the other, I kind of feel like I've had my dose of suffering over the last few years trying to come to terms with my wonky fertility, and surely, SURELY, God won't stop us adopting, too? Not if I'm, like, really fast with the paperwork? Surely? It's still a (big) struggle, but I feel like I've come a long way in accepting the first. I'm realising, though, that I've got to give up my tight grip on the second, too. Sometimes I feel like praying okay, God, you really messed up on my DNA, so I'll handle this adoption stuff if that's okay with you. And while I wouldn't actually say that, I do say it, every time that I don't pray. Which is a lot.

I hope with all my heart that we'll be parents (of an Ethiopian baby!) soon (whatever soon means). But I need to remember that while the bible is filled with wonderful promises for God's people, parenthood is not one of those promises. It's a good thing, and good parenting definitely honours God, but it's not a promise. We are promised this:

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. (Romans 8:28-29)

but since Jesus didn't have any children (unless you believe the DaVinci code - ummm, no) I'm guessing that parenthood isn't a prerequisite for becoming more like him. So there are no guarantees. Maybe the best way for us to become more and more Christlike would be learning to live graciously as a childless couple. I can't tell you how much I hope that isn't going to be the case, but I don't know that it isn't going to be the case. I was writing about trust a few posts ago, and well, here I am again. I need to learn to trust that whatever is in store for me, it has been planned by a God who loves me more than I can imagine and whose ways are faultless. Verse nine from the chapter of Proverbs above:

In his heart a man plans his course,
but the LORD determines his steps

and this is a GOOD thing. Call me out on this next time I'm having an adoption-related strop!


If you're reading this and you're not a Christian, I'm guessing you switched off when I typed the word 'church' in the first line. If you're still reading, thanks! And apologies if this all sounds a bit alien. I don't assume you all share my views. But I couldn't possibly write about this process without talking about how it's affected my faith. Is it weird to have put a religious content disclaimer on my own blog???



  1. Most people want to be delivered from temptation but would like it to keep in touch. ~Robert Orben

    1. Triggering panic from across the there a possibility of Ethiopia closing? (Panic and horrible lump in throat now)

    2. The stress of not making it through the approval process is why a stack of papers sits on my nightstand.

    3. I know the idea of being a childless couple would be "okay" but graciously...that is a difficult concept...I feel like I lack grace now...but then I still have these nagging feelings (ridiculous, horrible and stupid thoughts) that maybe all of this fertility struggle is really a spirituality issue and I am getting some type of cosmic payback (I know, it is like looking into a distorted mirror and it is not true - but still negative thoughts are powerful)

    4. Here is the verse that I keep thinking about (probably because it is my husband's favorite) as we move forward (or attempt to):

    "So why do you worry about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin; and yet I say to you that even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these." Matthew 6:27-29

  2. I just love how you write and process. In a lot of ways, I can completely and totally understand what you are saying. I think you're reading my mind and process! One of the things that I had to come to terms with (and it was NOT easy) was that we end up with a child at the end of this process, God is good. If somehow the whole process goes awry (from my perspective) the same is still true. I don't dwell on the latter, and I have to believe that we will bring a child home soon. But you're right. Giving up that control (or at least the illusion of it) is soo0 very hard. But then ya have to think, what's my other option?!

  3. It's your blog and you can write what you want to: no need for disclaimers.
    Now: Few other things in my life stretched my faith more than our adoption of Abe. I regularly wrote about the expanding that was going on inside of my spirit, the letting in of more of God. And you're exactly right: we are never promised children. We *have* to be okay with that possibility if we want to have a real faith. It's a huge topic that I wrote a lot about from January to March this year. I love the honesty here in this post and think you're on the right track.

  4. I don't think you should put a religious disclaimer on your own blog - it's your blog, like Lori stated. I don't really know if I'm in your camp as far as that goes, but no matter to me, I loved this post. While I can't say I've shared some of your experiences, your honesty and emotional evolution is definitely worth reading. And your brave for putting it out there....

    You seem like a very thoughtful individual that has graced the world, and if you also grace it in the capacity of a parent I can only say the child will no doubt be fortunate, but so are those others whose lives you no doubt enrich.


  5. Argghhh! sorry about the panic-trigger! Fortunately, no, no, no, no rumours at all about Ethiopia closing! That is just the workings of my paranoid mind.

    Thanks so much for kind comments. It means so much to know that others have BTDT (or are still there, still doing that along with me!)


Over to you!