I often compare myself to a turtle who likes to keep it’s head stuck tightly in it’s shell, remaining oblivious to what is going on in the world around it. It’s easier that way. When you are tucked deep inside, your eyes don’t see the evil taking place near and far. Your ears don’t hear the cries of those who cannot help themselves out of the hardships they are forced to endure. Inside the shell it’s safe and warm and, if your head is dug down deep enough, your heart is allowed to remain in tact.
But God, in His wisdom and love, in His desire to mold me and refine me, has chosen to tug my head out of my shell and open my eyes to the plight of orphans around the world. Not only has He opened my eyes, but He has opened the eyes of my husband and my kids. He has shown us that there are millions of children who have deep hurts, fears, and sadness. They need someone to love them, someone to give of their time and energy, someone willing to fight valiantly for them for the rest of their lives. They need families.
And, so, with eyes wide open, Andrew and I took a leap of faith into the world of adoption on December 15, 2013. The Lord has led us step by step over the last year. After calling us to adopt, He laid it on our hearts that we were to look for a child with Down Syndrome. After much research on orphans with Down Syndrome, God led us to adopt from Bulgaria. He walked us through fundraising over $30,000, through paperwork mazes that made our heads spin, and through a whole lot of waiting. Finally, on November 16, 2014, God led us to say, “Yes” to a beautiful little girl, about to turn 3 years old, whom we will name Sadie Caroline Shoger.
Has the path been easy? No. The waiting and lack of control over many parts of the process have often left me cross and short tempered. Seeing so many faces that need a family and having to choose one has seemed impossible. Meeting our daughter and then having to leave her for 4 to 6 months while finishing up the adoption process will tear my heart apart. Once we have her home, there will be adjustment to a new culture, new people, new rules, and new food. There will be healing that will need to take place after years spent in an orphanage and in foster care. There will be doctors appointments and therapies to navigate as well as decisions to make about schooling. There will be the growing pains that inevitably come with adding a child (adopted or biological) to the family, juggling not 3 children anymore but 4. It has been hard and it will continue to be hard. I don’t want to remain naive to that fact.
But, will it be worth it? The adoption of a child is often compared to the adoption that we, as Christians, have in Christ. We were lost, dead in our sins, floundering without a father. Then God sent His son as a ransom for our sins. Even now, after we have been adopted into the Lord’s family, we continually cause Him grief. We sin, we fall short of His glory, we hurt His heart. So, was it worth it, what Christ did for us? Yes, friends, it was. Because His sacrifice has eternal value. Because of what He did for us, we will be able to live in eternity with Him! There will be no more tears, no more pain, no more sadness.
So, will the adoption of a little girl from Bulgaria with an extra chromosome be worth it? Will it be worth the tears, heart ache, and frustrations that are sure to come our way? Yes! Because the decision to adopt a child has eternal value. Andrew and I truly believe that this little girl will bring us much joy and happiness here on this earth, but even if she doesn’t, even if it’s just hard – really hard – we know that her life has eternal value. The things of this world? They will pass away. But, eternal life is forever. We are called to go in to all the world and proclaim the good news of Christ. As we invest in this child, as we teach her about Jesus and about God’s Holy Word, we are investing in her soul, that she may live with God in eternity. And that, friends, is worth it!
Rev. Andrew and Kristin Shoger live in Bartow, FL. Andrew is the Associate Pastor of Bartow ARP Church.