The Adoption Process for Parents

Paul and Susan were both Pastor’s kids before they met and got married. Before moving to Redding, California, they pastored a church and lived in Florida for 22 years. They always wanted to have a family with lots of kids. If you are considering adoption we hope Paul and Susan’s words will give you a greater insight into the adoption process from the adoptive parent’s perspective.

What inspired you to adopt?

We both came from happy and healthy families with lots of siblings. We already decided we would adopt after we had our own biological kids. After we had our daughter Hosanna, we struggled to get pregnant again and we decided God had another plan for when we would begin adopting.

What was your first step in the adoption process?

We weren’t sure where to start in the process so we talked with our friends who had recently adopted. Our hearts were for international adoption. We wanted to go to a nation where children would never have the opportunity to hear about Jesus, might live in poverty, or might need medical help. Our hope was to bring them here to give them Jesus, and a safe home. With the intention that even if they choose to go back to their home countries, they always have a forever home here with us to come back to.

How did you choose the child you would adopt?

Even back then, around 20 years ago we were able to see pictures of children online. When we saw our son Elisha on the website, he was highlighted to us. We fell in love and said, “We want him.” He was from China so we went to get him with a bunch of people. The world of adoption is a community. Our Elisha was the life of the party at the orphanage. When we brought him back to the hotel he held onto the pizza crust we gave him. He wouldn’t take his shoes off and he slept with the toys we gave him. He loved having his own stuff. We brought him home where he grew up. He has had 14 surgeries since 17 years ago. He is in college now and we are so proud of him.

What inspired you to adopt again?

We brought Elisha home in 2004 but it didn’t take long for us to realize we wanted to adopt again. Especially after we realized there was a whole subset of kids that are harder to place, because of their age or their special needs. We had a great support group and Susan has a medical background so we knew we could handle children with special needs or surgeries. What many people don’t tell you is that adoption is addicting. When you get to travel and pick up a child and bring them to a forever home it’s addicting.

When we found out about our second daughter Jubilee, it was not through a traditional adoption process. We learned through an acquaintance that there was a need for adoption in India. We called up the adoption agency in India and they told us about two children who were not being adopted. There was one girl with dwarfism and another who was blind. God broke our hearts for Jubilee, the girl who was blind.

Several months into adopting Jubilee the agency called us to let us know that they believed she had autism in addition to being blind. Although this was intimidating, we had already fallen in love with her and knew God would take care of us in the situation. Once you decide to adopt a child, they are fully yours.

International adoption, like all adoption, takes a long time. We knew how this worked after our first adoption. The whole adoption process is like a very extended pregnancy. In this way, we felt that Jubilee was already our child. We would never abort a child in the womb if we found out they had special needs, and we were not going to turn back on our decision to adopt Jubilee.

What have you learned through the adoption process?

When God calls people to adopt, he provides support systems and wisdom to do the work. The Lord worked everything for our good. When we decided to adopt Jubilee, I had a friend in my small group whose job was to work with blind children. God will not leave you alone when you do the James 1:27 work of loving orphans and widows. We saw this provision from God financially too, as adoption is an expensive process. God provided money for us and the support we needed because that is His heart.

We saw the Lord’s faithfulness again when God set things in place for our third adoption. It is not always easy but God does it. The Lord put it on our hearts to adopt again. We considered adopting through foster care but it never worked out for us. After this, we pursued international adoption through China. We saw our son Gideon online, who was about to age out of the foster care system.

After we said yes there were only a few months before he was going to turn 14 and get kicked out of the foster care system and possibly end up on the streets. We got to China one day before his 14th birthday to adopt him. Again, the Lord worked things for good because coincidentally we were pastoring many people at the time who could speak Mandarin. There is also an immersion program our son Gideon attended in our small town in California that was FULLY Mandarin.

How has adoption affected your family?

Although adoption is not always easy, at the end of the day, we know our adopted children have experienced love and know that we are their forever family. Adoption has made us more compassionate and drawn us closer as a family. Even our children have more compassion for those who feel unchosen or left out. Adoption gives you immense value in life. We never think of our children as adopted. Our adopted children are as much our own as our biological daughter.

What is your advice to those considering adoption?

If you are looking to adopt, we suggest having a community around you to support you. Do not let fear stop you from adopting. We believe that if God calls you to adoption he will provide the way. Our life is to do what God calls us to do and expect his strength and his provision. Even though adoption isn’t easy, you will encounter God’s heart in the process. Talk to people who have adopted and read books to get more informed. There are so many helpful books out there with wisdom on adoption.

What do you think should be the church’s role in adoption?

Today we are still passionate about the church’s involvement in adoption. We believe adopting is the church’s responsibility. If you can’t adopt yourself, we would love to see the church support the people who are doing foster care. Whether you are making meals, mowing their lawn, or helping them fund adoptions; anything helps. We don’t need to treat people who foster or adopt as heroes but we need to support the call on their lives.

James 1:27
Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.


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