Being an adoptive mother- especially one with children who do not resemble me- has made me a sort of magnet for people everywhere who want to talk about adoption. If we're in a public place, I usually get asked about our adoptive children -at least once!- and almost *always* it is from another mother.
Conversations often begin like this:
"He (or she) is so cute."
(me) "Thank you. We think so, too!"
"Is he adopted?"
(me) "Yes." (insert a few details about when we adopted and where we adopted from...)
"I've always wanted to adopt... but my husband is just not there yet." (said a bit wistfully)
I have also received several emails from women saying they would love to adopt, but their husbands didn't want to for any number of reasons. It's a common story, it seems. I have often pondered how to respond to those emails. I don't even know that I have a place to speak to that scenario, because it has not been my own story. Mark and I have always shared the desire to adopt. (Fostering came a bit later, but it fit right into our longing to meet the needs of the orphans.) I've never been in your shoes, then, if you carry that desire to adopt or foster but your husband does not share it.
It has weighed heavily on my heart, though, this whole idea. I asked God, "What is it, Lord? Why the hesitancy on the part of so many men? What can I say to these women? Am I even in a place where I can speak to this at all?" A couple of things came to mind, and I would like to share them with you:
~PRAY. This one should be obvious. God moves mightily when we pray. Ask God to expand your husband's heart for the orphans. Ask God to give you wisdom in speaking with him about it. Ask Him to put people into your husband's life who have adopted. Ask Him to bring it up in all manner of ways~ a sermon at church, a tidbit on the radio, a sign, a program on television, a song, whatever.
~Share/talk enthusiastically about it. I want to clarify this. I do not mean that you should continually come before your husband with an agenda or an appeal, as in What-can-I-say-today-that-will-make-him-change-his-mind? You will not change his mind or heart on the matter. God will. God may use you to do so, but that is God's work, and it is not for you to fret about. So stop carrying that burden already. I'm thinking more along the lines of a passion in your own heart that can become contagious. (My husband loves football, I used to detest football. Gradually, I have learned to appreciate the game and have truly become an enthusiastic football fan~ all because Mark loves it and it is something he cares about.) All that to say that in marriage, it is difficult not to begin to care about the things that have hold of the others heart. So if you have a heart for the orphans, share it. If you read a book or article about adoption that particularly grips you, share it. If you are moved to tears by an adoption story, share it. Maybe your passion will become contagious. Maybe, eventually- your husband will be the one who reads an article on adoption to you. Maybe one day you'll find that his heart has joined yours on the matter.
~Get to know someone who is or has adopted/fostered. I think this is a big one. Sometimes the whole idea of foster care or adoption just seems so big. So expensive, so complicated, so... daunting. Then you run across someone who has done it, who is doing it, and it suddenly seems less big. My encouragement is that if you know a family that has adopted or fostered, befriend them. Ask them their story. I assure you, they'll be happy to talk about it.
~Do something. Maybe your husband isn't ready to take the plunge into the world of foster care or adoption, but that doesn't negate our responsibility as believers to do something about the plight of the orphans. Maybe you can sponsor a child through Compassion. And if you do, really dive into it. Pray regularly for your sponsored child, and send letters! Do you know someone who is adopting? What can your family do to help them out financially? When we were adopting Isaias, several family members and friends helped us financially. Two friends from college who I barely even had contact with anymore had a garage sale and donated all the proceeds to us. Before they sent us the money, one of their husbands asked his work if they would match the amount they'd raised, and his company did. So we received double the money they'd earned at that garage sale! Could your family have a garage sale or set aside a certain amount of money in order to help a family that is adopting? Could you commit to pray for them? When Mark and I were married, another married couple in our church family gave us the gift of their prayers for one year. They wrote in their card to us that they would pray for us every day for the first year of our marriage. What a gift! What a gift it would be to an adoptive family you know for you to commit to pray for them like that. Could you verbally encourage an adoptive family in your church? When we shared at our church that we were adopting from Guatemala, a women at our church came up to me after the service and encouraged me with an affirmation from the Bible and a promise to pray for us. I have treasured her words to me~ many times since.
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I would love to hear your stories on this topic. Perhaps there are some of you who are or were in this place with your husbands. What has helped and what has not? How have you seen God work in your husband's heart?