Facing Your Fears as You Accept the Call to Adopt

Serious couple sitting on sofa reading papers

Once you’ve examined your expectations and considered the realities of adoption, you might be apprehensive about the unknown. You wouldn’t be the first parent to feel anxious at various points throughout the adoption process and after bringing your child home.

If you’re feeling this way, hang tightly to what Jeremiah 6:16 tells us: “Ask for the ancient paths, where the good way is; and walk in it, and find rest for your souls.” Bring your fears to the One who can replace them with peace and direction.

At one point, fear almost stopped me from obeying what God had called us to do. Because Jeff and I had to attend 40 hours of classes to become licensed as foster parents, my eyes were opened to the multitude of ways a child can be hurt – emotionally and physically – and how those wounds could manifest themselves in unpleasant and difficult ways. As Jeff and I read – with pain – the profiles of various foster children over several months, we learned through graphic descriptions about some of the abuse, indignities, neglect and lack of stability these kids had faced.

Were we ready to parent a child diagnosed with fetal alcohol spectrum disorder (FASD) or reactive attachment disorder (RAD)? The thought terrified me.

My group Bible study at that time just happened to focus on the Israelites crossing the wilderness after being freed from slavery in Egypt. After God’s people had made a short trek through the desert, God was ready to bring them into the Promised Land. Unfortunately, most of the Israelite spies were paralyzed with fear after they saw the people they would have to battle in Canaan. Here’s what they reported:

The people who dwell in the land are strong, and the cities are fortified and very large. And besides, we saw the descendants of Anak there. (Numbers 13:28)

We are not able to go up against the people, for they are stronger than we are. (verse 31)

All the people that we saw in [the land] are of great height. . . . We seemed to ourselves like grasshoppers, and so we seemed to them. (verses 32-33)

As I read these verses, it was clear to me that I could have been one of those fainthearted spies, even though I was a woman born in the 20th century. I was a grasshopper, and FASD, RAD, and the rest of the alphabet soup of disorders were the giants. But God wasn’t finished talking with me. He reminded me of Caleb, an Israelite who saw the giants but had a different attitude:

Caleb quieted the people before Moses and said, “Let us go up at once and occupy [the land], for we are well able to overcome it.” (verse 30)

Do not fear the people of the land. . . . The Lord is with us; do not fear them. (Numbers 14:9)

God was clearly looking for this type of trust and obedience from His children, since He told the Israelites,

Not one of [the men] who saw my glory and the signs I performed in Egypt and in the wilderness but who disobeyed me and tested me ten times – not one of them will ever see the land I promised on oath to their ancestors. No one who has treated me with contempt will ever see it. But because my servant Caleb has a different spirit and follows me wholeheartedly, I will bring him into the land he went to, and his descendants will inherit it. (Numbers 14:22-24, NIV; emphasis added)

I heard God speaking to my quaking spirit through this Old Testament story: I know adoption is scary. Adopting is like facing the giants in the Promised Land. But trust Me; I can handle the giants. I need you to follow Me wholeheartedly, like Caleb did.

The Lord’s reassurance helped me move forward in obedience with my husband. A child’s wounds can be serious; they can look as menacing as a 10-foot-tall warrior. The only way to conquer fear of the unknown is by following those ancient paths, the paths that lead to the Lord.

Julie Holmquist is a book editor at Focus on the Family. She and her husband, Jeff, have raised four children, two of whom were adopted.

Julie is the author of A Call to Love.

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