In the last three weeks, I have had more people compliment my physical appearance, particularly my size than I have in all my existence on this earth. What’s my secret, you ask?
It’s not a new diet, exercise routine, or magic pair of Spanx—it’s motherhood. My husband and I adopted a newborn three weeks ago, and it has been the single most trying and beautiful event of our life.
So, I awkwardly shift in my clothes as strangers comment on my body, and I tell them, “Thank you, but, actually, she is adopted!” Their typical response is, “Wow! But…you’re so young?”
They’re right, we are young! I am 25, and my husband, Dakota, is 24. We have been married for exactly one year and one month. Something I have recognized on this journey is that in our culture, there is a perception that you must be of a certain age and demographic to need to adopt. It’s as though it shouldn’t be your first choice when starting a family, and if it is how you start a family, you must struggle with infertility. These are hefty cultural assumptions, and for many, these assumptions hold true. That was the case for my grandparents when they adopted my father 52 years ago, but that isn’t our story. We adopted because God literally told us to adopt. OK, I know that may sound weird or intense. If you don’t believe in God, stick with me. He talks in all sorts of ways that aren’t as crazy as it sounds.
Our story of adoption started when I was six years old. This was the age I learned about my father’s adoption. It was also when I determined that anyone who had biological children was doing the world a disservice because of all the kids out there waiting to be adopted. I was a passionate child. As I grew up, I recognized the extremity of that belief, but never lost the desire to adopt children of my own. I told Dakota on our second date that I wanted to adopt. He shared with me that he wanted a large family. A year and four months later, we were married.
In early January, a close friend and I were chatting after church. She shared that her 15-year-old niece had announced she was pregnant over Christmas break and had made the hard decision to make a plan for adoption. I’m sure you can guess my immediate thought during that conversation, but Dakota was more hesitant. He said, “That isn’t exactly in our two-year plan.” I just shrugged. Who needs financial stability anyway!? Kidding…kind of.
I quickly realized the weight of what I had just suggested to my new husband (and also noted that he didn’t say no) and put the adoption of this specific child on the back burner for a few weeks. During this time, I didn’t mention it to anyone. This is where I imagine God dramatically clapping his hands together and rubbing them mischievously. “If they only knew what I’m doing!”
It’s difficult to describe how specifically God moved in our lives in the following months, but I will try. I should also say that I fully believe the Bible is true, but often doubted that God would ever talk to me in the same way He did to the people in the stories that have shaped me. Who am I to hear from Him that way?
But then, I had a dream so vivid that it engaged all five of my senses and literally left me sick to my stomach for two days after I woke up. I knew this dream was different, so I described it to my mentor. She offered to pray about it. She asked a guy she trusted named Paul to join in. Without any context about our situation, Paul sat with us and prayed for me. When he finished, he said, “I just keep hearing adoption…” He then shared a Bible verse that kept coming to mind. I sat there teary-eyed and feeling like I had been punched in the stomach. God had never spoken this clearly in my life before. I knew I had to follow through and go for it.
Naturally, I shared this with Dakota, and he cried too. He started praying about the situation for himself. One morning he prayed on the way to work that God would specifically speak “fatherhood” over him if this was something we were supposed to do. Halfway through the day, someone told Dakota, “I feel like God wants me to share that he sees you as a father.” Dakota melted into a puddle of tears instantly, finalizing that we were going to pursue this adoption.
We reached out to the birth family to tell them we were interested in adopting this baby. It was a process that we were trusting God to move in, but truly thought He might just be using this experience to prepare us for something else down the road. The truth is that sometimes, God calls us into obedience without promising an outcome. So, we were hopeful that we would be chosen but were aware of the potential reality that we might not be. After all, we were “so young” and made little money, which could knock us out of the running when the birth family compared us to other potential adoptive families. We sat in the tension of hope and doubt for a couple of months with a few updates on the birth mother through her aunt, but overall, we heard very little. It was about two months later that we received the best text of our lives at a celebration for a friend (I changed the names for privacy).
Dakota & Caroline,
My name is Tim, and I am Lauren’s dad. She asked me to send you a message and let you know that she wants you to parent this baby girl. She has prayed and put her heart into this decision. She is content and feels the two of you were placed by God to raise and parent this baby girl at this very moment. We know that you will love her and protect her. We understand that you also have an extended family to provide support. We are all new to this, but know that we are just doing our best for Lauren and the baby.
Cue Dakota crying on the floor of Dave and Buster’s. He was crying so hard that a woman came out from behind the desk to check on him. Have you noticed we cry A LOT? It was immediately followed by lots of hugging, crying, laughing, and pure joy. However, the words “placed by God to raise and parent this baby girl at this very moment” weighed heavily on me. God literally told us to adopt in a very specific time, and we listened, but we also doubted. I found myself feeling shameful about our doubt. Then I remembered all those stories in the Bible where God moved in the same way, and I realized that they probably struggled with doubt, too. What mattered was that they kept trying to follow what they heard, to act on it, even in their uncertainty.
So, God told us to adopt a baby, He might be telling you to adopt too, or to do something else. Whatever it is, do it. Whatever your doubts, feel them. Just don’t stop being obedient in the waiting because I promise your life will be better for it.