This post is a continuation of Discerning Adoption: Part One.
We moved from preparatory to “active” clients and spent over a year awaiting an adoption match. This was not time wasted. Instead, we moved through this period with detachment, abandonment, and hope. It was not without heartache and uncertainty, but our discernment process brought out certain truths from the Lord that we could continually draw upon: He has a beautiful plan for our family; let Him lead the process; trust those walking with us down this path; know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that the perfect match is there for us. Our miracle of miracles was born in July 2022, two weeks after his birth mother chose us to be his parents.
While I could write a book about our adoption experience from the moment of our match onward, I want to take a step back and reflect a bit on the discernment process. I have some words of caution and advice. I’ll start with the most significant word of caution, both in this adoption process and in life, in general: do NOT compare yourself to others. Do NOT compare your family life and situation with others. Do NOT compare your expectations with your reality. Comparison led me on a path of habitual sin, resentment and judgment, and isolation. All of these things became hindrances to the Lord’s love and the love of others. Discerning this call plays out in our hearts, but we need the tenderness and compassion of others to help us keep hope and stay moving forward. Comparison is the thief of community. Everyone’s journey and cross are different, particularly in this process. Even now, reading our story, I encourage you to resist the urge (as I often did early on) to say: “well, I’ll just do what they did because clearly it worked,” or even “my experience is different from theirs, so I must be doing something wrong.” Prayer and the sacraments help keep the tension of recognizing the good in others’ experiences and the unique (and sometimes challenging) call we have, all while remaining confident and detached.
As we dipped our toes in this process and eventually took a dive into the deep end, we sought out support and kept our hearts close to the Lord in our discernment. One thing we became increasingly convicted of prior to starting our active discernment was that we can be good Catholics and not have children. The Lord asks us to accept children lovingly as gifts from Him. We knew that just because we couldn’t have children didn’t mean we weren’t living out our vows. Our openness is a gift, one the Lord sanctifies. Mark and I spent time living in this reality: we did our best in the pursuit of holiness and living a fruitful marriage in the Church without children. This offered us considerable freedom and peace of heart.
Other pieces of advice range in helpfulness and effectiveness, but they look something like this… You’re not too old. Don’t let your age deter you from active discernment. Enjoy the time you have been given with your spouse. Take the opportunity to get to know each other in a deeper and more profound way in your family of two. Your spouse is your main priority (and will be even with children). This time as you discern and wait is not a holding pattern or an interim period. It’s all part of God’s design and is not to be squandered. The waiting, questioning, heartache, and grief are hard. You can do hard things. Keep the words of St. Catherine of Siena at the forefront: “He will provide the way and the means such as you could never have imagined. Leave it all to Him, let go of yourself on the cross, and you will find yourself entirely.”
We are all adopted children. God has written the identity of adoption on every one of our hearts. By pursuing the call of adoption, we get to participate in a sacred and divine act, reflecting God our Father. Adoption is a call; it’s not a backup plan. Any call is worth taking the time to discern, together with your spouse, not singularly and in isolation. Let it take the time necessary, allowing you and your spouse the space to process and let the Lord work. Once you feel a deeper tug, then move into action together. Dragging the other into this process will only result in greater division, resentment, and confusion. Being united and intentional will prove essential to navigating a harrowing process. Be gentle with each other, as this process is sacrificial and will likely bring out the struggles you both face most commonly.
As the Lord led you to this ministry and this post and you’re still reading this now, I challenge you to act. Allow active discernment to follow the spiritual principles of a discerned heart and spirit. Spend time with the Lord in prayer and the sacraments. Talk with your spouse about what the Lord is saying. Make a commitment to advance this process, even in some small way. Grab hold of one another and take the plunge. Don’t discern discerning! Discernment of the call to adoption, as with other calls, will often reflect your relationship with God. It will refine your trust and detachment, grow the fruits of the Holy Spirit, and show you God’s providence and mercy. Give Him your heart and give Him your marriage.
I’ve heard it said that adoption is God’s redemptive response to brokenness. Often I thought of the birth mothers and children who were broken or beginning this life with loss. Now, still navigating this glorious process, I can see that God is working in my brokenness. He is redeeming me, my heart, my “I’ve got a plan, God, so get on board” mentality, and my soul. He is redeeming the parts of me I thought lost, broken, wounded, and He’s doing it through this beautiful process called adoption.
Lori has been married to her husband for seventeen years, and they live in Minnesota with their one-year old son. Lori is originally from the South and has managed to stay alive in the frozen North for over a decade! She loves being a high school history teacher and all things tennis. Lori and her family enjoy time outside and dance parties in the kitchen.