Posted in Adoption Journey, Uncategorized

Adoption and Men…

When entering the “world” of adoption conversations, especially when you connect to a blog/Facebook group/other online conversation, you’ll quickly notice the primary voices are women.  Certainly God uses “a mothers heart” in many cases, and speaks into a family through the bride.  In other times, it might be the “fathers heart” that He uses to tug toward adoption.  But even in cases where the couple is equally engaged/pulled toward reaching out to the orphan, most often it seems the mother is the one “out there” with the topic, connecting with others and having conversations about the process.  There are a few reasons that stand out as to why this may be happening:

1. Adoption involves a lot of emotion.  Like, gobbs.  The waiting, the picture updates, how far away this child is from you physically, etc.  And as we all know, emotions are for women.  (tongue in cheek)  Even as young boys, men are trained to have Jedi-like control over their emotions.  When someone is being “emotional”, we instantly feel they’re not being “manly”…whatever that might mean.  So even though a man may feel it, they’ll probably keep most of it to themselves.  There’s also a big chance, that even though they care deeply about what’s happening, they don’t have theimage words or the need to put into words all they’re feeling.   That’s because…

2. Men easily compartmentalize.  “The amygdala is a part of the brain that controls our emotional responses. In men, the amygdala communicates with just a few parts of the brain, like the visual cortex and part of the brain responsible for movement. (source: Lloyd) It’s like the amygdala is a power strip, and men have just one appliance plugged in. In comparison, a woman’s power strip is fueling many different appliances. In women, the amygdala is more connected to parts of the brain that control language, which may be why women talk about their feelings. It’s also linked to parts of the brain that control bodily functions like heart rate, blood pressure and digestion, which may be why women get a stomachache or other bodily response when they’re stressed or worried. In comparison, men seem to compartmentalize and show no outward display of emotion. But men still experience all the same emotions that women do, they just don’t cope with them in the same way.” (stolen from a science-ish website)

3. Adoption is much more emasculating than men realize when they “sign up” for it.  It’s sounds like the great plot for a manly story.  “Man helps his family reach out to the other side of the world, where a young child is in need of rescue, he helps bring them home and increases the size and heart of his own family (Christians add here “in the name of Jesus”).”  It’s totally a “knight in shining armor” type thing.  But then the journey actually begins.  He realizes he doesn’t have the finances to do it alone, and has to go around asking others to help.  He’s told by the agency “All of those natural fatherly desires you have to go and do whatever it takes to help your case move forward and bring your child home?  Let ’em go.  We represent you, and it’s in the best interest of everyone for you to let us do so.”  It’s probably true.  With the amount of extortion and corruption trying to seep into international adoptions, it’s really good to have people with experience and dedication to what’s best for the nation and children.

With these elements, and many more being thrown into the mix…our responses are important:

Wives – Understand the differences about how this adoption process impacts you and your husband.  Offer grace when he doesn’t seem geeked out about gushing his adoptive emotions over coffee.  Love him by asking specific questions, give him time to respond…and don’t expect a book.  Pray with him.  Help him connect whatever part of the process you’re in to his manly quest.  Sure, he may not be able to ride over there on a horse and scoop up your child – but he can certainly put on his shining armor and head out to the fingerprints office.  Be thankful that he can breathe slow and steady when you feel all out of sorts, and how God’s heart is reflected in such steadiness.

Husbands – Understand the differences about how this adoption process impacts you and your wife.  Offer grace when it seems she’s carrying a giant heavy burden…because she is.  When seemingly out of nowhere, she tells you how hard it is to endure all of this, and wonders if you even care.  This is your chance to be as manly as you were hoping you could be.  Not by rescuing your child just yet…but by scooping up your wife.  Reassure her.  Pray with her.  Use that focused amygdala to your advantage, and let her cry on your shoulder.  Dig deep into the compartment of adoption emotions and try to communicate what you’re feeling to her.  Be thankful for the depths of her emotions, and see how Gods’ heart is reflected in their mystery and force.

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the story we wanted him to write.

I remember back in early April 2012.  We were right on the threshold of a new adventure in following God’s call for our family.   We’d made the decision to adopt internationally, and felt God leading us to learn more, and grow a love for the people and country of the Democratic Republic of the Congo.  We’d been warned by several others, “this is an expensive process.”  “This is a journey with many unknowns.”  With smiles on our faces, we nodded.  We were aware.   We looked forward to the story God would write as we handed him a new stack of blank pages for the future of our family.

But we already knew what he would write.  The pages may not have been completely blank.

He was going to write a difficult but charming story of how a small midwestern family in full time ministry overcame great odds, and the  impossible financial realities of a single ministry income, to bring home a beautiful baby girl from the Congo.  It would be an amazing story and illustration that encourages every family to realize just how much of an impact they can make on the world, even if they aren’t a “power family” according to their status and income.

So far, that’s not been quite the story.me

After connecting with a great organization for quite a while, they ended up being much more focused on other efforts in the DRC.  That was fine while we were being processed, and finishing our homestudy.  But over a year into the process we finally felt released to switch to a new agency.  It seemed like prayers were answered, as immediately we received a referral.  We prayed for God to care for her, and put it completely in His hands.  We shared her picture with our children/friends.  Then her parents came to pick her up.

So here we are, back at the top of the “waiting list”, and the DRC has currently stopped issuing VISA’s for adopted children to leave the country.  They’re investigating specific cases of unethical practices from non-US countries, and making a statement while they do it.  It’s ultimately a good thing, as everyone involved genuinely wants the best for these children.  God has definitely used this time to help us learn more about the country, the people, and pray for the instability and fighting to cease.  This season shouldn’t impact us, because…well, it seems we’ll still be waiting a while.

If God had asked me as a young child what I wanted Him to do in my life, things would look quite a bit different from what currently is.  In reality, I’d probably be running around as the 5th Ninja Turtle.  So that’s obviously not the point I want to make here.  What I do want to do, is point out:  I don’t believe God is “making” this process difficult on purpose, as a sort of cosmic response of “I’ll teach you, Chadwick.”

I don’t believe God caused most of the difficult circumstances that have happened in my life, or in the lives of those I love…or your life.  Whether it’s the brokenness of your home growing up, or the economic struggles we’re currently facing as a nation.  He has granted humanity freedom out of His great love for us.  But I do believe God can write redemption into whatever story is happening due to the loving freedom He has granted humanity.

The story may not be the one we “wanted” Him to write as we handed him the paper and pen.  He may not be following the script we attempt to whisper into his divine ear every evening.  But He is still writing a beautiful story of hope and healing.  He offers to do the same in your life even today.  How will you respond to His invitation to be a part of New Creation?

Our story may not convince people that adoption is an easy/do-able choice.  But it may help paint a picture of what a family stubbornly relying on God looks like.  An image of parents who talk and pray with their children about a broken world.  Human beings yielding themselves to following God’s call…even as that call is largely unknown and uncontrollable.  As we’ve seen throughout scripture, He’s pretty good at knowing where such a story should lead…