Giving a Family

I haven’t been the best about blogging lately, so you may or may not be aware that we recently added a beautiful new addition to our family.


Violet came home to us from Uganda in May, after a nearly 2 and a half year adoption process that was equally as grueling and stressful as physical childbirth. As my friends and I like to joke, it was the “Longest. Pregnancy. EVER.”

So why am I sharing with you a link today about foster care? Because every statement he makes in this piece could also be applied to adoption.

Please take a minute to read: Rethinking Some Common Foster Care Concerns

So much of what he says leaps out at me and makes my heart go, “Yes! THIS! This is what I’ve felt. This is what I’ve wanted to say!” (But have been too busy/lazy/preoccupied to write myself.)

I want to steal it and put the word “adoption” everywhere that he writes “foster care” and then send it to all my friends and family.

Instead, I’ll share some quotes with you that really impacted my morning and got my brain and heart engaged in a way I hadn’t planned. (I was just sipping coffee and checking Facebook as a way to postpone the horror of cleaning underneath my youngest child’s bed.)

“Our call in foster care [Kari inserting “adoption” here] is not necessarily to get a child for our family – it is first and foremost the call to give our family for a child. A slightly different statement with significantly different implications. Our first responsibility is to give, not receive; to open our families to a child whose world would otherwise be closed off to the safety and security of knowing a nurturing and loving home.”

I love this. I’m not sure I ever thought of orphan care this way, but it really is the truth. It’s a decision to give your family for the sake of a child. I’ve been asked, “Why do you want another child? Isn’t three enough?” as if it was the same as shopping for shoes or other accessories, to add something to my life. But it isn’t about that. For us, it was like God plopped this beautiful soul in front of us and asked, “What are you going to do to help her? How much are you willing to give?” And we decided together, as a couple, that we were willing to give even our family. It was the weightiest decision we’ve made in our 23 years of marriage; in a moment, I’ll talk about the conclusions we came to regarding its impact on our other children.

I’m sure my loved ones get tired of hearing me talk about orphan care. It just hurts my heart that there are millions of kids who will never know the security of a loving family — especially older kids that no one rushes to sponsor or adopt. I get that adoption is daunting, but just about anybody can help finance another family’s adoption (as so many of our friends and family helped us) or sponsor a child. I’m firmly convinced that when we become Christ-followers, we also accept a holy obligation to assist these helpless children.

Know that my sense of humor can be rather cutting at times, but I think of child sponsorship as orphan care for people with commitment issues. I love, love, LOVE what Compassion International and World Vision are doing for families around the globe today. It’s easy, relatively inexpensive and requires very little time or sacrifice. You can even set up auto-pay, and if writing letters isn’t your thing, they have a list of people who will send your child mail on your behalf. Give up one family meal at a sit-down restaurant per month and you could allow a child (or two) in an impoverished nation to eat for that entire month.

I may be odd, but I think about things like facing God to give an account for the resources he’s given me, and feebly trying to convince Him that the steak I overpaid for at Longhorn’s was more important than the little Asian boy who died because I wouldn’t sponsor him. It sounds dramatic to say that, but it’s the harsh reality that kids die every single hour because the Church fails to do what Jesus told us to.

I get so frustrated on Facebook sometimes because my newsfeed is stuffed with posts about pampering animals, or buying expensive supplements and bigger houses and better cars and tons of other random crap that we really don’t need and that doesn’t do anything to take care of the people Jesus died for.

Church, we’ve got to ask ourselves hard questions about this culture we embrace as normal. Why are we so willing to fork over our money for useless clutter, but then act like our brothers and sisters are crazy for adopting or providing foster care?

Francis Chan said, “Our greatest fear should not be of failure but of succeeding at things in life that don’t really matter.” Does that sum up American culture today, or what? We’ve all earned Masters’ Degrees in Things That Don’t Matter.

So, I’ve gotten off on a tangent and rambled on top of what Mr. Johnson managed to say so succinctly. Here is what he said about his children, and how it affected me:

“Our goal for our daughters in foster care [our sons in adoption] was that they would feel the weight and magnitude of the situation but not grow to resent it. Our aim was that it would add to the fulness of their lives and not take away from it. On some level we wanted them to feel the difficulties, inconveniences and struggles involved in the process but also help them understand that for the sake of the little girl we had in our home, those things were all worth it.” 

I think that’s been one of the biggest difficulties for me, when people have implied that we’ve shortchanged our sons through the financial impact of adding another child to the family.

Right now might not be the best time to be writing about this. We’re bringing in less income due to Donnie having to take unpaid leave from work during the final trip to Uganda, and if you see us over the next few months — we’re going to look broke. There is no fun money in the budget. None. I haven’t earned any freelancing income at all this year. All the fun activities we’ve been able to do, that you see me posting about, have been freebies. I’m actively seeking writing opportunities so that we can cover back-to-school (and back-to-homeschool curriculum) costs, because otherwise, that money just isn’t there.

Admitting that probably “proves” to any naysayers, I’m sure, that we shouldn’t have adopted, that our sons are going to resent this, that we’re stupid and bad money managers, and any other assortment of accusations.

There’s probably a grain of truth in most accusations, and it may be true that our sons grow up to resent us. But I’m going to dare to say that what we’ve given them is greater than anything money can provide. As Mr. Johnson says about his daughters, we want them to realize that:

“Not everyone has beds like theirs or clothes like theirs or gets to eat food like they do. We wanted their little “worlds” to be shaken, not to destroy them but to drive them so that even at a young age they would begin to form an idea of what seeking justice, correcting oppression and giving of yourself for the sake of another looked like in real, tangible ways. God is beginning to form a heart in them towards these very things and we are eager to see how they manifest and express themselves as they get older.”

I’m beginning to see our sons’ hearts turn, too. Maybe, just maybe, my boys won’t turn 40, and feel, as I did, that they spent the first half of their lives succeeding at things that ultimately, just don’t matter.

2 replies on “Giving a Family”

  1. Just thank you…. Kari, you wrote so many things I’ve thought … and by the way, we’ve looked broke since Dan left the ministry and no relief in site. It breaks my heart that I can’t even give to Compassion or anyone else but my own church – but that is my lot right now. God knows. Thankfully, He knows. That is all that matters.

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