My husband, Ben, and I have wanted to adopt since we were young. We discovered our shared desire for that when we were dating. We assumed we would have a child and then adopt, however many more we decided after that.
After we got married, we would talk and dream of our children but it always centered on adoption. Ben led the conversation three or four years into our marriage and asked why we were planning to have a child before adopting when our hearts were pulled toward adoption.
It came down to perceived social and familial expectations. I'll never forget Ben saying, "Deena, other people's expectations are not how we make any decisions in our lives. I think we need to pray about this and see if we are supposed to adopt first."
For us, adoption was not a foreign concept. As Christians, we are very connected to the understanding that our life, our belonging and our identity flow from a place of connection to our Father.
Romans 8:15 says, "For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the spirit of adoption as sons ..." Our lives are forever transformed by being adopted into the family of Christ – and that is more real than our biological connections.
Our journey was long and emotional. It was filled with doubts and wonderings. We had to explain our choices to people we loved. Sometimes it was hard and I would find myself saying, "I can't explain it, but I know deep in me that I have a kid or kids somewhere and I have to find them." For both of us, that feeling was as strong as our innate desire to be parents.
We chose Buckner for several reasons. First, Buckner has an excellent reputation and I knew some of the staff already. The character and love of the employees at our local office is unreal. They provide support both to and between the families they serve.
We knew there would be rough times, but we also knew that a connection to Buckner would provide resources to weather whatever we encountered. It was amazing to know that our caseworkers were praying for us and always had our best interest at heart.
After we adopted, we had many of the same difficult experiences other families have. But between God's grace and wisdom, and the support of other families and Buckner staff, we have grown and thrived as a family.
So much of what defined our kids while they were in foster care is now a distant memory. That is not to say life is easy; I mean, whose life as a parent is? But the way we see, we get to mirror the redemptive work of Christ in the building and living of our family system. Our family is not what God's original, perfect plan intended. But to us, the plan of redemption is just as powerful and provides hope beyond "what should have been."
In our hearts and minds, we know adoption isn't for everyone. But taking care of marginalized children is the responsibility of all Christians. So to us, the question is not if individual Christians should be involved in adoption and foster care, but how. Each Christian should seek God to find out how this fits into their calling and lives. And if it is adoption, Buckner is such a wonderful ministry to help guide you through.
Deena Shelton, and her husband, Ben, have adopted two children through Buckner Foster Care and Adoption. To find out how you can become a forever family, click here for information.
Photo by Hannah Cromer with Inspire Photography