In April of 2010, we received a calling. It wasn’t a calling to plant a church, go to seminary, or go overseas, but a calling of a different kind – the adoption of a waiting child.
It amazes me how the hand of God works, and how just a little history can sometimes put things in perspective. You see, God was working through Perimeter church at the same time to launch Promise 686, to put a spotlight on the needs of Foster and Adoptive families. We attended the first official meeting of the new ministry, and God stirred our hearts to be involved.
We committed to pray together as a couple, and as a family. Our first prayer was for God to send us into the area of greatest need. Oh, did I mention that we already had five children ages 2 to 13? That’s very important in our story because they have been a HUGE part of the process. Strange as it may sound, God began to show us both that there was room in our home for at least one more. The more we prayed, the clearer the vision got – adoption of a boy or girl, age 8-12, in our home by Christmas!
After four months of training, filling out application forms, and searching and praying for our child, we met our daughter-to-be at an adoption gathering in North Georgia in October. An adoption gathering is kind of like speed dating for kids and prospective parents. The state does the best they can to gather 10-20 waiting children with as many prospective parents as possible, centered around some crafty activities to help defray the awkwardness of the situation. Strange as it was, God put Anne there that day to meet us, and we left with a feeling of hopefulness mixed with caution.
Three long weeks later, DFCS notified us that we had been matched with Anne, which meant we were now able to begin pursuing her adoption. There is another God story for another newsletter in the series of events that led up to her being placed in our home, but the short version is that God was faithful to his vision for us, and Anne was place in our home on December 21st, four days before Christmas! Eight months later, on August 30th, Elizabeth Anne Brannan was fully, legally adopted into our family, forming the “Brannan Bunch.” (3 boys and 3 girls…we are just missing Alice!)
We just celebrated our one year anniversary of our first meeting with Anne, so it hardly seems like we are experts in what life is like post adoption. One of the biggest challenges with adopting an older child is that they have memories and a history of their own, one that has to be understood and blended with your own experiences to make a new family culture. There are many days we feel that we need a psychology degree to read our daughter, but most of the challenges of late are typical for a teenager in middle school. Overall, Anne says she is very happy to be adopted and loves her forever family. From the very beginning, she has made an amazing effort to bond with our family and to trust us, and she as adapted beautifully to the many changes in her life.
The other five children have been tremendous in opening their home and hearts to a new sister, and we truly would not have been able to do this without their support. They have embraced her and the process, never once considering that this wasn’t the right thing to do, or that she is any less a part of this family. They have been willing to share what they have, and learned to live with a little less of everything – less space, less meals out, and less direct attention from Mom and Dad. But the blessings have far outweighed the small sacrifices we have all made. Adoption has been an incredible part of our spiritual journey as a family. Not only has it brought us closer to one another, but it has also given our family a greater understanding and appreciation of how we have been adopted into God’s family and that He loves us unconditionally and graciously meets all of our needs.