I returned a couple weeks from my college homecoming and was so happy to see many of my old friends. However, when I returned I began to ponder my former world view that I heard spoken about at the college. I have been planning to blog about it but Sheri, a person totally unrelated to that situation, coincidentally wrote about some of the same things I have been thinking.
And for those of you who are my friends from college, please realize that my thoughts are not as a result of seeing you, but more about the memories of my former way of thinking.
When people are living in a world where everything is black and white and everything make sense it all goes pretty well. I was that way growing up and it worked for me. There were things that were right, and things that were wrong, and good Christians didn't do those things, nor did they hang around the people who did. They were trying not to "conform to the patterns of this world" as Romans 12 says, and thus, they never spent much time in it. And for many people this can work for most of their lives.
Unless something happens and life gets messy. Unless a friend or relative comes out of the closet, or a spouse decides to have an affair, or a child rebels and doesn't return to the fold, or a multitude of other things. Then all of the sudden all the black and whiteness gets replaced by greys that are uncomfortable. Questions about how to respond to people when it wasn't supposed to turn out that way plague them. Often Christians draw a line in the sand regarding a person's choices -- I done that a few too many times -- and what I have found is that the line becomes a circle, and the person does not stand on the outside for very long.
I saw this article the other day about why some Christians don't adopt and I loved it because it was the essence of what I've been saying for a long time -- just because something is hard doesn't mean we shouldn't do it. However, I would like to take it one step further.
Often Christians don't choose to adopt from foster care. I am certainly not saying that international adoption or infant adoption is not a good thing -- it is and I believe it is the Christians role to do that too. But adopting older children from foster care is often a third choice -- even for Christians.
Some Christians dont adopt from foster care because it's too messy. Raising hurt kids throws wrenches into all the black and whites of the conservative evangelical approach to life. When I was growing up, I would have been horrified at the thought of being the mom to seven children who had been arrested, a pregnant teenage daughter, a convicted felon.... to being the victim of my kids verbally and physically assaulting me -- to having kids who swore multiple times a day. My biggest issues then were whether or not I would disappoint my parents forever if I chose to start going to movies at a theatre when I turned 18.
So as I reflect on all of this, I still long for the days when my life and everything in it made sense. But fostering and adopting children means crossing the line and getting involved -- not only knee deep, but actually swimming in the world, a world that is messy and dirty and sometimes evil and that never, ever fits together in a neat little box.
I'm not suggesting that the lives of people who don't adopt are perfect. But imperfection certainly was not their plan from the start. They were sensible enough to hope and plan for a life that would be safe, secure and predictable. Anyone who adopts older children from the foster care system, knowingly or unknowingly, invites the world into their home, sometimes making their lives unsafe, insecure and highly unpredictable.
I'm satisfied with our choice to adopt older kids. I believe we've done what called us to do. I don't think we've always done everything right. We've struggled, we've disagreed and had to come to resolution, we've had to settle for less than the ideal choices by some of our kids, and we've suffered through a lot of pain that we could have avoided.
But the result is that we have become more compassionate, more understanding, more wise, more tolerant, and more appreciative of the good days. We have been refined by fire, developed more character, and seen God do amazing things. I am a different person that I could or would have been otherwise and I am grateful.
(Disclaimer: I had no intention of offending or hurting anyone while writing down my thoughts -- and I'd love to hear others thoughts on this...)