Sunday, June 5, 2011

Choices and Playing Cards

I would say most parents, given the choice, would pick nothing but the best for their kids.  I’m sure my dad might’ve preferred me at six-three, two-fifty coming out of high school as an offensive guard and a nose guard instead of five-nine, two hundred.  Momma might’ve preferred a Pulitzer Prize winning author instead of the mental midget I can be at times.

When I dream of my own children’s futures I see Courtney successful and happy, making an eternal difference for the Lord in the lives of others.  I can picture Cassidy winning Olympic gold in gymnastics to the glory of God.

But what about the other things – those things we might consider bad.  No parent would choose for their kids to have disabilities and handicaps.  Heck, my parents didn’t choose for me to be a knuckle-head.  I just turned out that way.  But would we turn away from our children if they were born less than perfectly healthy?  I couldn’t, and I dare say, most wouldn’t.  I’ve got two cousins whom I greatly admire and respect for their dedication and bravery as they raise special needs children.

Yet we’re approaching a point in our adoption journey in which we’re going to be asked to choose those issues/defects we’ll accept and those we won’t – they call it special needs.  We have decided we’re going to adopt a special needs child.  The biggest reason we’re going that direction is because our girls would love a baby brother, and well, it’d be cool to have a son, and the most sure fire way to adopt a boy from China is if you’re willing to take one with a special need of some sort.  It kinda makes me feel like a weasel to even put it that way.

Nevertheless, that’s the choice we’ve made, and we’ll soon be faced with decisions as numerous and wide ranging as there are special needs: Cleft lip and pallet or Down’s Syndrome?  Spina Bifida, blindness, deafness, mental retardation, club foot, autism, missing toes.  You get the picture.

But how do you choose?  Martha and I agonize over this.  How do you look at all these children, equally deserving of a loving family and home and say, “I’ll accept you, but I won’t accept you.”  It rips me up to even think about it.  I mean, aren’t we supposed to play the hand the good Lord deals us?  I know I’m thankful my folks didn’t look at God and say “Uh, try again, would ya?”

For me, the dread is real and formidable.  I would like to think I’m bold enough to tell the adoption agency, “You pick, I’ll handle whatever comes my way.”  But honestly, I don’t know if I’m that brave.  I want to be, but am I?  I doubt it.  And I’ve got my family to think of as well.  My wonderful wife and I have two of the most precious girls in the world.  How much are we willing to disrupt their lives?  What are we willing to put them through?  While that’s a good and valid consideration, I don’t want to hide behind it either.

I wish I had this big, elegant answer, but truth is I don’t.  So, I find myself praying and falling back on that faith thing, asking God to show me His good and perfect will for our family, hoping I’ll have the courage to follow the road He puts us on.

When the time comes, we’ll make the choice, and we’ll live with the consequences however they turn out.  My biggest prayer is that we don’t make “our” choice, or “my” choice, but that we make His choice.  Then I know we’ll be able to handle whatever hand we’ve drawn.



  1. Hello friends. So glad I checked in tonight to see that you are really getting started! We were in your shoes timing-wise last November. (& think we'll probably be traveling in August, fyi) :-)

    I'm so excited that you will be considering a boy! Another little guy for Max to play with?!

    I'll pray for God's guidance as you consider any child. I know from experience that it can be very difficult. In the end, you will bring home YOUR child, and I'm just so excited for your family!

  2. Shannon here. Well Matt, you and Martha are still 10 times braver than I would ever be. The idea of adopting a special needs child and not really knowing what you're getting into would send me into the fetal position. I really admire ya'll and wish I had the same commitment to God's will as you and Martha do.

    Love and Prayers on this journey.