“You guys have six kids already! Why would you want more? Are you crazy?!?”
“You are already raising six kids on a pastor’s salary.”
“Don’t you worry that you won’t be able to love this child like you love your real children? Don’t you worry that it will take away your attention and resources from your real children if you adopt?”
These are some of the questions that may be going through your head when you hear of our plans to adopt. So why are we adopting? Why would we add to the chaos that already exists in our home? Why would we strap our budget even more, postpone those Disney dreams even longer? On the days when I feel overwhelmed and inadequate for the task of shepherding my six, how could I even consider increasing the flock?
These are valid questions. So many people have written so many good articles and books about the blessings of children, and the blessing of adoption, so I’m not going to try to defend big families or adoption in general here. Let me just share our heart.
As I mentioned in the first post in this series, adoption has always been our goal, our plan, our dream.
It has just always been a given that after we had our biological children, we would adopt. At the beginning, we never dreamed we would have six biological children. We didn’t really see that coming. But as each stick showed two lines, our hearts grew a little more, along with our capacity for chaos, to the point where it was an agonizing, heart-wrenching decision to stop at six, and the only consolation I could find in that decision was knowing that the main reason for choosing to stop having babies was so that eventually we could adopt some more babies.
We just really love babies and children at our house.
Do I get overwhelmed? Absolutely. I don’t think a week goes by that doesn’t find me in tears at least once. But I’d be willing to guess that it isn’t just mothers of big families that find that to be true. Parenting is hard and overwhelming whether you have one kid or twenty. But the joy far outweighs the hard, and we’re willing to risk lots more hard to get lots more joy. Our children are absolutely a blessing to us, and our biggest prayer for their lives is that through God’s work of grace in their lives, they would find their joy in Christ and because of that, that they would be a blessing to the world. If God will give us more children, that will be a cause for rejoicing for us.
So…more kids? Bring it, and we’ll plan a party.
But why adopt? Why not just keep having “our own” kids? We want to adopt because we are adopted. Every Christian is adopted. Christ welcomed us into His arms, and into His family, when He changed our name and inheritance to His name and inheritance. We were orphans, lost and homeless and in danger of destruction, when He found us and brought us home and gave us a robe and a family. Earthly adoption is just a picture of what Christ has already done for us every day. Scripture says marriage is to be a picture, a representation of Christ’s love for the church. It’s a picture of the gospel. Well, so is adoption.
We want our family to preach the gospel in as many ways as possible.
That’s our goal for our marriage, for our parenting, for our ministry, for our interactions with those around us, and for our family makeup.
So we adopt as a picture of the gospel. But we also adopt because we want to love life like God loves life. We have always claimed to be pro-life, but we feel compelled to do more than just not abort our babies. There are orphans by the millions. Christians cannot be indifferent to them. We are not given that option in Scripture. Passages that compel us to look after the fatherless are all through the Bible, with perhaps the most simple being found in James 1: “Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world.” (James 1:27)
It’s true that we can visit the orphans in their affliction by praying for them or sending money to organizations that help them, but it’s also true that to truly visit them in their affliction, many believing families must step up and welcome them in.
Not every family can or must do this. We believe God is calling us to be one that does.
And to answer the questions about depriving our children or taxing our budget, we would say this (written last fall after being asked how we could provide financially for another child):
As I write this, I am in my bedroom surrounded by storage totes full of clothes. I have worked all week on switching out the children’s summer clothes for fall clothes. Every drawer is full to overflowing and I have taken two full garbage bags out to the garage to pass on to other people who need clothes, because we have too many. This happens every spring and every fall. Our children are walking around in name brand clothing, and their drawers and closets hold more than they could ever wear in a season. These clothes have come from their own older siblings, their cousins, and families in our church and community because that’s just what we do in our circles. We all pass stuff around to each other. Sometimes clothes that I have passed to one family come back to me a year or two later because we all just share. And my kids don’t have only hand-me-downs, either. They are all walking around in brand new tennis shoes these days, that we were able to buy for them. They get their own new clothes from us and from grandparents every birthday and Christmas and sometimes just because, but it’s all just for special treats. We have never had to do a major back-to-school shopping spree that burdens so many families because we are so blessed by our community with clothes. So no, all their clothes aren’t brand new for them, but they have never lacked for anything.
They don’t lack for toys, or activities, or special treats either. Through careful budgeting and the blessing of low-tuition activities, we have been able to let them participate in an activity of their choice, and we currently have jiu jitsu, dance, drama, gymnastics, and chorus on our weekly calendars. These are luxuries, we know, but we are so thankful that they can pursue their interests and talents in these ways. If we ever get in a position where the budget just won’t stretch that far, then those are certainly things that we can easily stop doing but for now we are able to do them. Our house is also full of Legos, American Girl dolls, baby dolls and superhero toys. Our children are so blessed with people who love them and love to give them gifts that often we have to clean out excess toys to donate to other children. Also, through lots of deal-searching, discount-finding, and careful planning, we have been able to take some fabulous—even though they are not luxury by any means–family vacations, most recently to Gulf Shores beach this past May. So many kids never have the opportunity to travel outside their own county. We are so blessed. I can’t show you these provisions on an income/expense form, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t significant.
As far as our support system goes, I get tears in my eyes just thinking about how blessed we are. My husband and boys were gone last night on a father-son camp out with several families from another local church, many of whom are in our homeschool co-op. The girls and I spent our afternoon at two different parties to which we had been invited. Our kids have no shortage of friends—at church, in our homeschool group, in their different activities, and in our community in general. I have a list in my mind of families I could call in a pinch if we needed childcare or help in any way, and we have never made it to the bottom of the list without finding what we needed. True, sometimes it can be hard to live four hours away from grandparents, but we have so many pseudo-grandparents. When we arrive at church tomorrow there will be eggs waiting for us in the refrigerator, and there have been several anonymous gifts of meat, gift cards, clothes, or even cash waiting on a counter or in my husband’s mailbox. No, these aren’t regular gifts that we can count on and factor into the budget. They are just spontaneous gifts that let us know we are loved by our friends, and more importantly, provided for by our God. And they have regular trips to visit the grandparents (they have all four grandparents and three great-grandparents still living, all in the same town) and cousins, only one of which is biological since they have several adoptive and foster cousins as well, which has taught them that family means much more than sharing genes. Christmases, Thanksgivings, birthdays, summer break—all of these are celebrated with traditions and laughter among family. They also just got back from an extended Labor Day weekend in the Smokies with my husband’s family—cousins and aunts and uncles and great-aunts and great-uncles, all of whom love them and all of whom love the Lord. This is an annual tradition and one that helps build their heritage as part of a family whose roots go all the way back to the Mayflower.
And none of that is as important as the home these babies will live in. They will be born to parents who have prayed for them, without knowing who they were, since before we had our own biological children. They will grow safely in a womb that is free from any nicotine, alcohol, or drugs. They will come home to six older siblings who pray for them and talk about them daily even now. Sisters who have set aside some of the dolls and blankets they no longer play with, for the day “our new baby” comes home. Brothers who have been taught that babies are a wonderful gift and that they need protection, and who take seriously the charge to protect their new baby siblings. Siblings who have, without us explaining the process to them at all, spontaneously begun asking if we can adopt twins when we adopt, because they don’t just want one new baby. That’s how much we love babies at our house. And our kids love each other. Yes, they argue, as all siblings do. But they are best friends, and they will be quick to tell you that six kids are not too many. Indeed, six is not enough, according to any of them.
These babies will be raised in a home where the Bible is read together and prayers are prayed daily. Where they will be read to, cuddled, danced with, and rejoiced in. Where they will be protected from realities like broken homes, addictions, harsh words, hatefulness, and the dangers and evils that so many other children are forced to face. Where they will know without a doubt that they are loved, they are safe, and they are a delight to their parents and siblings. Where they will be taken weekly to a church full of people who love them and also love Jesus. Where they will be educated by a mom and dad who know them better than any teacher ever could, with their siblings as their tutors. Where they will be allowed to excel as much as they can excel, as our oldest daughter who read Aristotle and Homer, unabridged, in 7th grade and is currently working two grades ahead in math, or where they will be allowed to learn at a slower pace if necessary, like our son who is in first grade and doing great with numbers but lagging slightly behind in reading. Where needing to back up in one subject for further review before they can move on will not require moving to a special class or back a whole grade and will not be shameful or embarrassing for them. Where they will be taught respect, compassion, and responsibility, and treated with respect and compassion as well. Where they will go to bed each night enveloped in love more fierce that words can describe. That’s the home these babies will grow up in.
I am grateful for this opportunity to question whether our family can adequately handle adding one, two, or more children to our already seemingly-full quiver, because it has helped me see anew how blessed we really are. No, our kids do not have their own bedrooms, and new babies won’t either. And no, we don’t eat at Applebee’s often, or anywhere that doesn’t have a dollar menu. And a week at Disneyworld or overseas is probably not on our radar anytime soon. But adequate provision means so much more than those things. We can’t answer every question about how things will work if the babies are sick or if Clay loses his job or if one of us dies young. I don’t think anyone can build a concrete plan for unknowns such as those. But the thought that God would stop providing for us in any of those situations is laughable. We are being as wise as we can and trying to be good stewards, both of our budget and of the family He’s already given us, and if we didn’t believe we could provide a safe home for new babies where their needs would be met, we would not pursue this any further. We believe we can open our arms a little wider. We are excited to see what God has in store.
So, that’s why we’re doing it. But we can’t begin the actual embryo adoption until God provides the funds. We need $15,000 to cover the medical expenses involved. If you would like to help, you can give via PayPal at www.paypal.me/hallembryoadoption or by mail at Hall Embryo Adoption, PO Box 92, Grand Rivers, KY, 42045. (Make checks out to Clay or Monica Hall.) We are building a puzzle with the names of all who help build our family written on the pieces, and you can sponsor a puzzle piece for a gift of at least $35.
Thank you so much for your prayers, and for your financial support if God leads. We would be thrilled if you would also share this blog series with others, to spread the word about not just our story, but adoption and embryo adoption in general.
If you missed the first post in the series, you can read it here.