I use a lot of self-deprecating humor. Or so my husband tells me. But one of the things I've said about myself lately is that I'm a "special kind of crazy" because I want to go through the whole adoption process again for another child.
I really shouldn't say it like that.
Because our society has already set adoptive families apart as something "different." Someone told me I am "brave." Someone else told me I am "strong." Someone told me I am "called to adopt." Someone else told me they could "never handle what I'm going through."
And all of those people were trying to give me compliments. And I surely appreciate compliments, but the problem with all of those statements is that they take God completely out of the equation (okay maybe not the "called" one but stick with me, I promise I have a point here).
I believe that you certainly need strength and bravery to adopt. But I needed much more than I have on my own. I relied on God during the entire adoption process to see me through and I am relying on him even more now that Amani is home. Yes, I needed to be strong and brave; but I am not, in fact, all that strong or all that brave.
I believe whole-heartedly that God wanted us to adopt. Was it a calling? Well, a calling implies that my family was picked out especially to adopt. That we were set-aside to do so. But the Bible clearly states that ALL Christians are to care for orphans. If it's a calling, then we are ALL called. So the Cassells are not all that special. We just chose to be obedient in the form of adoption.
And let me tell you, no, you cannot "handle what I'm going through." Neither can I. It's hard. Getting Amani home was HARD. Having him home is hardER. I can't handle it. Not by myself. God gives me strength and patience and compassion every day to be able to help Amani transition into our family while making sure my other two children (and husband) get their fair share of attention. And to not yell at the big kids the 45th time I've told them to put on their shoes (um... more prayers needed here.)
When I set myself apart, even jokingly, I am limiting God. God can use each and every one of us to make a difference in the life of an orphan. Everyone. Not just the "especially crazy" ones. My family is not set apart. We are not special. We were merely obedient in adopting. God doesn't think any more highly of us and so chose us to adopt. No, He will use those who are willing.
So why do we wait? Why do we say no? Why aren't we willing? What excuses do we give for NOT adopting? For NOT sponsoring a child? For NOT fostering? For NOT traveling overseas to work with orphans? For NOT mentoring a child here.
Are we waiting for God to call? He already has.
Are we waiting for finances to be in order? I didn't see anything in the Bible about caring for orphans only after making sure we have nice cars, kids in brand-name clothing, and a giant retirement fund set up.
Are we waiting to feel ready? Trust me, you're never ready. When I was pregnant the first time, I read every book I could get my hands on and still wasn't ready for that newborn I brought home. With this adoption, I read every book that was recommended to me, did trainings, talked to other parents, and we still weren't ready when he came home.
Are we waiting for a big-enough house? In Ethiopia, there are 45 babies in one room. More than that many boys sleeping in bunk beds in one-room barracks. We have enough space, I promise.
If we wait for those things we'll be doing just that: waiting.
November is Adoption Awareness month. I guess I want you to be aware. But more than that, I want families to be inspired to adopt. How hard is it? Well, yes it's hard. But there are children raising themselves, going to bed alone, dying alone. Do you know what a difference we can make?
This Sunday is Orphan Sunday. Again, I guess I want you to be aware there are orphans. And I want you to be aware that you can do something to help them. But more than that, I want people to rise up. To DO something. Just because we've already adopted we aren't "off the hook." Rob's headed back to Swaziland next summer. The only reason I'm not going is 'cause we're not ready to leave Amani yet. You can bet I'll be there the following year.
'Cause guess what? We are all that special kind of crazy. You... yes you reading this right now. I am officially calling you crazy. So now you're aware.
And you can go make a difference in the life of a child.