Throughout November, we will have a series of guest bloggers contributing to "Every Child" in honor of National Adoption Month. Today's blog was written by Bill Oechsler, adoptive parent & president of EthnoGraphic Media.
We chatted outside the market.
The phone call took a surprising turn.
His email arrived late one evening.
Each seemed like random encounters.
Two were with complete strangers.
Only later would we understand their significance.
My wife and I didn’t talk much about our adoption journey. At first, that is.
There was so much to explain.
We were both closing in on 50.
We were busy raising three teenagers.
We were fairly settled.
While sharing our decision to adopt elicited favorable emotional reactions, detailing the process of adoption often created cognitive dissonance. Many seemed “with” us on a heart level but it was evident we were messing with some folks’ heads.
How much? How long? How many?
Why this? Why that?
In response to their reactions, many conversations early on went something like this:
Them: We heard you two are adopting?
Maybe it wasn’t quite that abrupt. We were only trying to minimize the questions and avoid having to defend our decision. We also worried about drawing attention to ourselves and monopolizing conversations.
Then it hit us.
What if the process is meant to prepare us?
What if the time is meant for telling others?
We started sharing our story.
We listened more closely to the questions asked.
We prayed with and for others.
These conversations built relationships.
They encouraged and were encouraging.
They informed and were informational.
We chatted outside the market on a sunny Sunday. For more than an hour we shared our adoption journey with a neighbor. We shared our hopes, concerns, and frustrations. And we answered every question as honestly as we could. Today a precious little boy from South Africa plays in the yard of my neighbor’s home. Seems that day we’d been one stop along another’s adoption journey.
The phone call took a surprising turn when I mentioned a visit to a coffee plantation in Nicaragua while fostering our now adopted daughters. I had been talking with a social entrepreneur in Canada who ran a fair trade coffee business in Maine whose global mission was reversing the ravaging effects of extreme poverty. He explained that his interest in our adoption journey was not for him but his sister and brother-in-law. Ironically, they lived in our town! We were able to share our experiences and make introductions. Most importantly, we celebrated when their son “officially” joined the family.
His email arrived late one night as I was about to shut down my computer. His introduction was more an explanation. He had come across our adoption blog while searching online for encouraging news and information regarding Nicaraguan adoptions. The journey he and his wife had been on was not going as planned, and they were obviously facing some tough decisions. Over several weeks, we witnessed doors being shut but others opening. We relived some of our recent experiences as they received a referral, traveled to Managua, met their girls, began fostering, and eventually finalized the adoption. But in a sleepy airport in Indiana, watching our girls welcome home their girls was pure joy.
It’s amazing how connecting with others who’ve traveled similar roads can offer a measure of comfort, a bit of clarity, and the confidence to press on. During our adoption journey, we sought out wise counsel, coveted the prayers of many, and learned to trust God—His provision and timing. He gives us strength for the journey.
There is such power in our stories, in our testimonies.
We only need to share them.