When a dream dies young: our decision (not) to adopt

Murray and I have been praying about adoption.

For years the idea of it rested in the recesses of my heart. But over the past many months it seems we’ve tripped over it wherever we turn and the desire to rescue and to raise an abandoned someone has become something we can’t ignore.

We have leftover love in our home. Buckets of it. It oozes from under the doors. Certainly enough for a small someone who has been left in a plastic bag outside a police station without hope or a future. It excites me to think about introducing him to Jesus. Bringing him up to have brothers. Raising him to be part of a generation of difference-makers. God has shifted our hearts with a new compassion for the four million parentless children in our country. There’s an urgency to be part of encouraging Christians to ‘care for orphans… in their distress’ (James 1:27). I can’t help thinking, how can we do nothing?

So we’ve prayed and fasted regularly for the past six months. We’ve asked others to pray for us too.

But it seems clear to both of us that God is saying no. Or maybe, wait?

It’s not the finances. We certainly can’t afford it, if you look at us on paper. But we know that God will come up with the funds if it’s his will. It’s also not because there’s any kind of opposition from friends or family. Quite the contrary.

It’s a sense of disquiet over our parental limitations. It’s being overwhelmed by a feeling of inadequate emotional capacity. It’s looking at the pie chart of quality time and wondering how and where we can slice up extra hours. The journey we’ve walked as a family so far has shaped a unique dynamic and we wouldn’t have it any other way. That doesn’t change the fact that some things take longer and require more innovation and creativity and emotional energy. We’re kind of terrified that we don’t necessarily have exponential amounts of that stuff should it be asked of us. It just doesn’t feel in keeping with the unforced rhythms of grace.

So I’ve been really sad. We’re letting go of an unfulfilled dream and I don’t quite know why we held it in the first place. I know that maybe adoption is something for years to come – maybe for a time when our boys are more independent and we are more confident. I also know that God seldom births things in our hearts that he doesn’t plan to bring to fullness in some shape or form. So we’ll keep looking and listening – is there another way You want us to serve? – and we’ll open a quiet little bank account and see what God asks us to do with the money when his time is right and a need needs meeting.

Jesus, have your way in us.

Learn to do good. Seek justice. Help the oppressed. Defend the cause of orphans. Fight for the rights of widows. – Isaiah 1:17


  1. Dalene. I know how you and Murray have deliberated, prayed and fasted over this decision. As I read Mary-Beth Chapman’s book, I understand a little more the call to seriously consider adoption. Often, our Father searches our heart and motives and loves engaging with our hearts in an open, gentle and loving manner and as we trust-walk with him, hand in Hand, He confirms and heals us. Love your two dearly, Ross


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