Patience is not a consistent virtue of mine. But I’m better than I used to be about waiting.
The first year that I taught school, I bought my parents a microwave as a Christmas gift. I bought it on sale the second week in November and despite planning where I would hide it all the way home, I walked in the back door with it and gave it to them immediately. When Kelly and I were first married, I always gave him gifts for any occasion early. Then we found out that we couldn’t get pregnant and I had no option but to wait. It was during the years when we were waiting to adopt that I finally learned some semblance of patience.
“But those who trust in the Lord will find new strength. They will soar high on wings like eagles. They will run and not grow weary. They will walk and not faint.” Isaiah 40:31 (NLT)
Patience is an issue of trust. I didn’t trust myself when I was the early gift-giver. I didn’t trust that if I waited to give the gift at the appropriate time, it would be just as wonderful an experience as it was the day that I decided I couldn’t wait. In fact, keeping the secret of the gift should have been savored. In the past twenty years, I’ve learned that half the fun of giving a gift is the anticipation during the time before you give it, knowing how well it will be enjoyed, and how happy both the giver and the receiver will ultimately be.
Isaiah 40:31 is my husband’s favorite verse. It’s the verse we posted on our refrigerator when we applied to adopt, went through our home study, and attended the MAPP (Model Approach to Partnerships in Parenting) classes, a requirement in the state of North Carolina for those who foster or adopt children It tells us four important things about being patient:
- Trust God, waiting on Him to move things in His time.
- When you trust God, he will renew your strength — especially when you feel like you just can’t go on.
- The strength you receive will be the strength of the Lord, not human strength.
- After you have the strength of the Lord, you will be able to do amazing things.
We finished the MAPP classes in the fall of 1991. In December 1992 that our sons, Martin and Steven (who were ages 4 and 2, respectively), were placed in our home a week before Christmas. But there was a catch — they weren’t really ours to keep. They came as foster children and we were told that they were to be adopted by relatives in another state. We could have said no, but we felt so strongly that this was the path that God wanted us to take, we agreed and decided that they would be “ours” as long as they were with us.
We expected them to be with us for only month, but their time stretched into April 1993. One day, I got a cryptic phone call from our social worker. I just knew in my heart that it was time for the boys to go. I called Kelly and he came home from work so that we could meet with the social worker. There was a thick atmosphere of sadness as we sent the boys into the backyard to play. The boys felt the sadness, too, because from the window, I could see them on the back porch, sitting together and holding hands.
I was already missing them and just wanted it to be over. The social worker thanked us for our willingness to take Martin and Steven and remarked about how much they had matured socially; how well-mannered they’d become; how much joy we’d brought into their lives. I have to tell you that I was in agony. I wanted to scream but I was afraid that if I started, I might never stop. Then she spoke the words that set my heart free. “The placement with their relative didn’t work out,” she said. “We were wondering if you would like to adopt them?” Now isn’t that the silliest question you’ve ever heard? OF COURSE we wanted to adopt them! So worth the wait. So glad I was patient.
When their adoption was final, we asked to adopt a little girl. We’d only had to wait a little over a year for the boys; maybe a girl would come quickly too. But it wasn’t to be. There were many foster children in our home over the next seven years. We even experienced a failed private adoption that we thought was in God’s will. Looking back, there were red flags that we ignored throughout the entire process. When they took her away, I almost thought we’d never get over it. But we did and in May of 2000, our daughter came to live with us. Our family was complete.
The boys are now young men, ages 23 and 21. Claire, our daughter, is 14 and a freshman in high school. They are blessings in so many ways to so many people. When I get anxious for things to happen now, I read Isaiah 40:31 and remember the circumstances of our children’s adoptions. Good things do come to those who wait and trust in the Lord.