After a Failed Adoption: Why We’re Taking a Step Back

Polyphemus Moth

My daughter with the polyphemus moth that took SIX MONTHS to emerge from its cocoon. How are you being quiet and waiting today?

It’s been a few weeks since we said goodbye to Rwanda. But even a week later, 10 days later, when the grief had ebbed slightly and I could feel myself coming out of the fog, guess what my first impulse was?

To jump in to the next step.

If you know me, this is what I do. I tend to prefer action over contemplation. If it’s worth considering, it’s worth doing. Right now.

Listening for God’s Voice

God speaks to me in a few ways, but one of them isn’t hearing his voice audibly or getting a sense of what he’s saying so clearly I can write it down. He speaks to me in feelings, in nudges. I feel him more than hear him. Sometimes I feel like he’s pushing me around a little. Then there are times when he shoves so hard I get a bruise.

When I’m dragging my feet because I’m scared, but I can’t stop thinking about something and I feel unsettled making my beige, safe plans, I know that’s the Holy Nudge.When I jump in and say “God, I’m going for it!” and then I feel kind of frantic, scattered and anxious, that’s a Holy Roadblock.

How amazing that God steps into our lives in such a personal way, right? Even when I’m frustrated and just want to move on with it already, I have to marvel that the Creator of the universe cares enough about my life to intervene.

In taking the first steps for another adoption, last week I scheduled all our medical appointments to start updating our paperwork. I was moving forward, as soon as possible please, and God said, Whoa, sweet girl. Hold up.

From experience, I know better than to ignore a Holy Roadblock. The harder I try to push through it, the more miserable I feel. It just doesn’t feel right to be outside His will.

The impulse to race ahead in adoption

So why the desire to jump in right away again?

Part of it is that I want to secure our place in line for a match. Another is that I want to get closure on Rwanda, to be done with that chapter. If I can start getting excited about another path, it might dull the pain a bit. An exhausted part just wants to be done with the paperwork, the stamps, the photos, the checklists. You’ve been great, adoption, but I’m kind of tired of you.

I love adoption. I love how it will always be part of our family’s story. I love writing about it, helping others with it, debating it, wrestling with it. What I don’t love is the process before the actual adoption.

It’s all part of it, I know. You have to go through it. God has something to teach me at every stage, in every moment, with every piece of paperwork. But I’d rather just skip ahead to when we”re all home, together and complete at last, moving on with the business of being a family.

But isn’t that what we do? So often we want to forfeit the blessing in favor of a quick resolution. We want to resist the trial, even if it means settling for something smaller than God intended.

Sometimes, we need to learn a lesson in the trenches. We need to walk through that fire, one agonizing step at a time, in just the way God lays out. Because that’s where he refines us and prepares us for the next step in his Big Plan.

Being quiet in waiting

And so, for the first time in nearly three years, we’re pressing pause on our adoption plans. We’re not waiting for a social worker, a report, a stamp, FedEx or a foreign government. We’re taking a purposeful step back to pray and think and open our hearts. We’re waiting at least a few months, or as long as it takes to feel the next push from the Holy Spirit, the Holy Shove that compels us onward, whatever that means and wherever that takes us.

I still hope that means another adoption. I hope the signs and hints we’ve been getting over the last year end up meaning something.

But I also know that God’s purpose for our life is bigger than adoption.

Maybe God just wants to give us a glimpse of our life AA (after adoption), when the only paperwork will be post-placement reports. Maybe He’s trying to give me a break. And maybe He’s trying to show me where we’re going to go with my writing, or how I can bless others with more purpose when my plate’s not so full.

The only thing I know for sure is there’s definitely something I need to learn about being quiet and seeking His face first. Not adoption, not another child, not closure or my plans. Just Him.

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12 comments on “After a Failed Adoption: Why We’re Taking a Step Back

  1. (((Hugs))) No words, just wanted you to know I was hear and read. 🙂

  2. Megan Frank says:

    Hi Kim-
    I love reading your blog and wanted to comment because we are in the exact same place! People always ask me if, when, where we are going to adopt again (will be our third) and the only answer I have is… we haven’t gotten an answer yet. We are waiting for a call, for our hearts to feel that incredible, exciting, confident impulse we know is from Him. We are waiting and trusting right along with you. Also, if you ever want to get the little ones together to play we would love to see you! 🙂

    • I would love that, Megan! Shoot me an email sometime. Maybe we could meet at the Plummer House again. 🙂

      It’s hard for me to live in the waiting, especially when it’s ME I’m waiting for — or really, God, but you know what I mean. It’s one thing to wait on a foreign government. It’s another to just sit here and do nothing when I COULD be doing something.

  3. Anna says:

    this is very wise. Well said. I believe some might be rushing into things and not savoring the here and now. Not being still, and quite possibly thriving off the emotional upheaval in the adoption process. My humble opinion mind you.

    • Anna, I think you’re completely right. There’s a rush involved in adoption. It’s very exciting and emotionally tense and full of anticipation. I can see how people could get caught up in that and just want to experience it over and over again, when there is real value and growth in the wait-and-see. Especially if that’s where God wants you.

  4. Heidi Weimer says:

    Good words. Timely for us even. Reminds me of a blog I wrote last year during Summit for the CAFO web site

    and how God continued to work that out in me over the last year:

    • Great posts, Heidi. And WOW, the comments on your radical post! Holy cow. You responded with a lot of grace, though. I did love how with every insult hurled at you, the commenter would end the post with “grace upon grace” or something similar. Ha! Good stuff.

      I really appreciate seeing someone else who sees the complexity in these movements and the importance of parsing them out.

  5. Jen Ferguson says:

    So good of you to be willing to step back. I also jump forward to alleviate pain (or avoid it). It has taken me awhile to learn how to recognize roadblocks, to discern when I am doing what God wants me to do, instead of what I want to do. Praying for your family!

  6. Meagan says:

    I have to tell you that I am so grateful to have stumbled upon your blog! I love your voice and I can relate to you so completely in this piece. Not about adoption, but about Gods nudges and road blocks. What really gave me goose bumps was your description of God pushing you so hard it leaves a bruise.
    Yes, the thought that he loves us all so much to intervene in each one of our lives! That happens to me, too. I finally understood that his will for me is constant and he will always help guide me as long as I continue to see and hear him!! three years ago when I had fallen so far into despair that I couldn’t even see through the darkness and I had not prayed in months and was so spiritually broken I refused to listen to even Gods most forceful shoves for me to get out of my own way… and when I finally hit the bottom and asked for his guidance, within fifteen minutes he actually removed me, forcibly picking me up from the wreckage of my life, and the illegal and immoral behavior I had found myself committing… and put me in my place. Thank God for that huge kick in the rear that I am now able to appreciate his simple pushes and pulls.
    I had a very real urge to write part of my testimony here. My general wisdom tells me to cut it short, something else is telling me to leave it here. Someone out there will read it when they most need it! 🙂

    • Meagan, thank you for your kind words and for sharing some of your story here! We all need each others’ stories, don’t we, even if we’re all going through something different? I love how God is so generous with his wisdom… we can see something we needed to learn in someone else’s story.