If I knew then what I know now . . .

You know the saying “If I knew then what I know now”? Depending on the day, I feel differently about it. I mean, some days, I think that if I had the opportunity to do or say or act differently in a past situation, then I would leap at the chance. After all, who wouldn’t want to undo a bad day? And then other days, I feel like if I had the chance to change anything, I wouldn’t because every day before this one shaped me.

My husband, Jamie, and I just celebrated our ten year wedding anniversary. Considering we’re both the products of messy divorces, I’m proud of that fact. And for the whole of our marriage, it’s been the two of us. But next year, we’re going from being the only two humans living in our house to being outnumbered. You see, we’re adopting a sibling group through the foster system. We’re hoping for three. We’re willing to talk about four. (Somedays, I think I can talk my husband up to five, but don’t tell him.)

You may be thinking, Um . . . that sounds nuts.’

You’re not alone. Whenever we tell people we’re adopting, they’re so pleased and excited for us. But when we say that we’re adopting siblings, some people look a little confused. And when we say we’re doing it from the foster system, some people look a little concerned. But it’s okay. We’ve had time to adjust. We’ve known adoption was coming. We’ve certainly known since February 2018 when found out our problems conceiving were the permanent sort. But in truth, we’ve known it for even longer than that.

Dreaming of Building a Family

I don’t know who said it first, him or me. But as far back as our dating years, adoption was a dream for us. But we also loved to dream and plan about our kids—ours as in the ones that we’d make ourselves. They’d have thick dark hair. Probably have chronic stuffiness like we do. They’d love books. They weren’t likely to excel at sports, but they’d know Zeppelin’s entire discography. We even had their names picked out. Adoption, if and when it happened, would take place after we’d have some of our “own” kids.

If I knew then what I know now, I might’ve . . .

focused our daydreams on filling our home with kids who didn’t share our DNA instead.

We worked for ten years as volunteer youth pastors in a church where a lot of the students were from broken homes. And we saw how God really can redeem the ugly things in our past for someone else’s good. We adored those kids, and we led them from a place of deep vulnerability because we knew what it was like to be in their shoes. It’s been three years since we stepped down, and there are still students who we talk to and spend time with routinely (although they’re not kids anymore.). We laugh, and eat sushi, and talk about budgets, falling in love, changing their majors in college—you know, boring grownup things. Some of them would jokingly call us mom and dad because we were so invested in them. Some of them still do.

If I knew then what I know now, I might’ve . . .

treasured that more because I know now that it takes a lot for hurt kids to lay their guard down enough to trust and love others.

November is National Adoption Awareness Month

This month specifically focuses on adoption from foster care. And for the past year, that’s the space where my husband and I have lived in. It took us a long time to get over our infertility diagnosis. In truth, it felt like pieces of us had died. And we had spent such a long time talking and planning for those pieces that it hurt immensely when we were forced to put them away. We gave ourselves time to mourn, and cry, and let God have it. I mean, we really let him have it. Fortunately, he was okay with our anger and was kind to us while we grieved.

Dreaming of Adoption

But after the grief and the anger subsided, we were caught off guard by peace. And it took us by surprise when adoption poked its head back into the mix one day and said, “Hey, remember me? We used to dream together, too.” Suddenly, this thing that we had forgotten was on the table again. But now, we didn’t have any hesitation. We didn’t have any promises to fulfill like after we have kids, or after we’re living in that kind of house, or after we’re more settled in our careers. Because who cared about all of that stuff?

Suddenly, we felt inspired again. And our dreams of building a family were real again. The only difference was that now we had perspective. We had a decade of marriage and learning how to be partners. We had experience winning over rough kids with our relentless affection. We had a refined faith that came from trusting in God’s plan for us when things were falling apart.

If I knew then what I know now, I hope I wouldn’t change any of it.

Without all of it—even the messy, broken pieces and the years spent waiting and wishing—I wouldn’t be so confident about this thing we’re doing.

In fact, we probably wouldn’t feel so uniquely qualified to do this thing if it wasn’t for everything. We’re former youth pastors whose childhoods were “less than glamorous” and who are drawn to outcasts and rough kids because we were those kids.

At the end of the day, it was always going to be foster-adoption. So when people hear about our plans and are confused or concern, we smile and nod.

They don’t know what we know now.

Happy National Adoption Awareness Month. And a sincere thank you to every adoptive and foster parent out there who is standing in the gap for someone else. You’re my heroes.

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