I’m not sure when our journey to adoption began, but even before we met; my husband, Michael and I were both influenced by families who had adopted. Michael was inspired by the book, Adopted For Life by Russell Moore, and I always wanted to adopt from Eastern Europe after hearing about the crowded orphanages in the Ukraine.
I don’t remember the first time Michael and I talked about adoption together, either, but our love for each other grew alongside our vision for a family. Like many individuals and couples, we thought adoption would be nice eventually. Perhaps something we’d take more seriously once we accomplished other family goals. Yet at 24 and 25 years of age, and just before our 3rd anniversary, we found ourselves in the process of adopting through foster care.
Michael and I got married while studying at the Sunset International Bible Institute. Initially, we were focused on our education and some chronic health issues of mine. When we graduated, Michael got a job as a youth minister and my health improved, so we started thinking about growing our family, but decided to wait just a bit longer. God then began to impress on my heart the question, “What are you doing for the orphan and the fatherless?”
I’d heard great things about a hosting program where American families could bring children from orphanages in the Ukraine to spend the summer with them, and give them an opportunity to experience family life as well as learn a bit of English. Many of these children were also looking for forever homes. When I viewed their photo listings my heart ached for them, especially knowing what they would face on the streets of the Ukraine when they got out of the orphanage. But as Michael and I talked about the host program, we decided that Michael’s first summer as a full-time youth minister wouldn’t be a good time to host.
Still, I wanted to know everything I could about adoption; every perspective, both joyful and painful. I researched how to adopt, who can adopt, and the pros and cons of different kinds of adoption. I asked a lot of questions, read many articles, listened to several interviews, and prayed hard. I prayed that God would bring us children in the right way, whether by birth or adoption, and that Michael and I would be on the same page regarding how to begin our family. He and I both believe that parenthood shouldn’t be one-sided, so it was important that we move forward together. As I learned new things about adoption or heard someone’s perspective, I shared them with Michael and we talked about them.
Eventually we determined that when the time to adopt was right that foster care would fit our family best, but we were still unsure if we should start biologically or adopt first. About that time, Michael and I spoke with a childhood mentor of mine who had adopted. It was helpful to have a conversation, and ask questions about the process, what it entails, how long it takes, and what its challenges are. In the end, we felt there was no right or wrong answer about how to begin our family, we just had to decide. Finally, after much thought and prayer, Michael told me he thought we should adopt. I was thrilled because that’s where my heart was leaning as well.
I knew from my research that we should first attend an informational meeting. Unfortunately, the closest one was quite a ways from our tiny, rural community, and we got lost along the way. We couldn’t find the building, where to park, or the right entrance. We were nearly half an hour late when we finally made it, but the meeting was very helpful, and we were able to ask more questions. After we left, Michael told me that hearing about the foster kids made it impossible to turn back.
Over the next few weeks we filled out applications, registered for PRIDE classes, and looked through the huge packets of information. We joked that our kids actually DID come with an instruction manual; a really, really big one! While some told us they didn’t enjoy the PRIDE training, I really liked it, although, I did find the required homework challenging and tedious.
We finished all the classes just a few weeks ago, and are now anxiously waiting for our paperwork and background check to go through. Waiting for the government to get back to us has been hard, and to make things worse we found out that our current renting situation isn’t a stable enough living environment for our kids, so now we have to move. It was a stressful decision to make, and we are sad to leave our rural community, but in the end I think it will be a blessing to be closer to our support system, and it now also allows us to consider adopting a sibling group of three or more!
We didn’t specify on our application a preferred race or gender, and we left the age range pretty broad. We’ve even considered broadening it wider if it means we could have children sooner. It’s strange, exciting, and a little frustrating that we could potentially have our child or children with us in less than a year. Sometimes I get antsy and just want to know now, but we’re trying to be patient and not stress; all while packing and moving!
I’ve heard it said that the most difficult part of adopting is the decision to begin. I don’t yet know if it will end up being that way for us, as I suspect the actual parenting will be hard, too, but it has been the most difficult part so far, followed by the decision to move. Some might think that the government requirements for a prospective foster-to-adopt parent would be the hardest part, but not for us. Many are hesitant to invite CPS into their lives, which is understandable. Who wants their life evaluated in such a way?
Working with the government, filling out paperwork, and going to classes took much time and effort, but to us, that is nothing compared to the enormity of a foster child’s needs. There are an overwhelming number of children in the system who need a safe, loving home, and a forever family to grow up in.
If you’ve been thinking about adoption or foster care, I want to encourage you to first, pray hard about it. Second, go ahead and take the first step. Informational meetings are noncommittal and they’ll give you a good idea if adoption is right for you.
I still pray that God will bring us our children at the right time and in the right way, but I now also pray that wherever our children are, there is someone to show them love, God’s love, until we can. Would you be willing to pray for us and our future children as well?
Alyssa Thys is a child of God, former missionary apprentice, blogger, and an expectant mother through foster-to-adopt. She is married to a wonderful man named Michael, who’s a family and student minister. Alyssa and Michael live in Texas with their two huskies and are eagerly awaiting the day when they can bring their children home! You can find Alyssa online at belovedallythys.blogspot.com where she blogs about life, faith, and things that make her smile, and belovedbabynames.com where she discusses her favorite hobby, names!