I love that I get to introduce to you, Sarah Carter. I don’t really “know,” her, but yet I feel like I “know” her because she shares her heart so vividly and beautifully and honestly. I started following her on Facebook (like you do), and stumbled upon her writing and art. I love how she sees and gives voice to the human heart and the life she captures in her art and in her son. From afar, I’ve sensed that she has a warm and peaceful and graceful presence. I love the ways that she is fighting for what’s good and true in the world around her, and the way she advocates for making our world a better place to live. As National Adoption Month continues, I wanted her to share her story, her journey, as she waits and anticipates and longs for and dreams for her sweet Ghana baby. I know that so many of you will be able to connect with her heart. Grateful for her lovely and courageous voice.
Here’s her story:…
When adopting, we generally think we know what we’re getting into. You weigh the nature of the ways life as you know it will change. You take classes and file paperwork. And file more paperwork. You scour your home from top to bottom with bleach and meet with your social worker and divulge all your family history and try your best to ensure that you are still capable of being a competent and loving parent. You daydream. You research and reach out to other adoptive parents. You become fluent in blog speak. And all the while you wait.
Waiting. Now there is a word I am more than a little familiar with. Over three years ago my husband and I began our journey into adoption. Little did we know that it would take us to the emotional, spiritual, and developmental places it has. When we made the heart decision to adopt from Ghana we knew it was a riskier country choice, being that it was newly open to international adoption and is not yet Hauge accredited. You’d have to really trust your agency and the people handling the ground details of your case. Nonetheless, we felt drawn to the tiny country situated on the western coast of Africa and knew our little one was waiting for us there.
We have spent the last few Christmases explaining to extended family the complications of international adoption and trying to supply reasons for why our child isn’t yet with us, another holiday incomplete. When you are adopting you get really good at fielding the well-meaning but poorly-worded questions that tend to come with the territory. All the while, silently screaming deep under the glowing candles and roasted turkey and twinkle lights and clanking silver is your inner self, wondering the very same things. Another Christmas without a name or connection? Why is it taking so long? What can I do to make this happen?
That’s the thing about international adoption. You can’t really do anything to make it happen. When you chose to adopt, you chose to enter into a broken system, often in more ways than one. In a perfect world, back in the garden, adoption as a concept didn’t exist. There was no need for it. If all was as God originally intended, there would be no brokenness, no pain, no death, no abuse, no separation at all.
Of course that is not the world we live in today, although adoption has now become one of many ways redemption of that original vision can come to earth. In a twist of pure love and genius God has found a way to trump separation in an eternal way by giving us the ability to adopt. It is redemptive, powerful, and defiant against the status quo.
It is also a battleground. When we chose to adopt we were drawing a line in the sand, we were taking up our swords and stepping into the arena. Claiming the power of love to heal, over time, the wounds caused by abandonment and fear is just about the most beautiful thing I can imagine being a part of.
What I have found, after all this time as we still sit on a waiting list for our referral, is that the time spent waiting is actually a huge part of what it’s all about. In the waiting we get restless and we cry out to God, we extend hands to community when otherwise we wouldn’t need to. We are softer, a little bruised around the edges and therefore more open to accepting help. We learn to care for the needs of those right in front of us in a different way. Our hearts for the orphan and the widow are expanded in ways we could never have imagined.
Over the past three years we have made friends around the world. There are people in Ghana right now that I love and pray for every day. Three years ago I couldn’t have said that. There is a Safe House for former child slaves that provides shelter, food, and care to countless children that would otherwise be slaves in their own country. They know freedom and love and community and I had a part to play in building that house. Three years ago I didn’t even know those children and their tragic stories existed. We sponsor two children in Ghana, Rhwanie and Caleb, who now can go to school and have a brighter future. All of this, because we have had three years to get to know and invest in our future child’s home country. These things would have been skipped had our adoption flown by in mere months.
Waiting is hard. Most days I can’t even really connect in a deep way with how hard this season has been. But, within the waiting there has been growth, and healing, and preparation. Nothing is ever wasted. When you are waiting you are still actively participating in your child’s adoption. My prayer for you, fellow adoptive parent, is this: Lean into it and trust that the story you said yes to is going to be wild and uncertain and winding and much more vast than you could have ever imagined. And thank God for that.
After spending four years in the warm California sun – (where Sarah taught creativity workshops and exhibited her artwork in galleries, Steve served as Campus Pastor for RockHarbor Church, and their four-year-old son, Emerson, was secretly a super hero who works tirelessly to keep the city safe) – the Carter family has recently relocated to the considerably colder midwest.
Here Sarah continues to create and write in her studio and Steve works as Director of Evangelism at Willow Creek Community Church. Emerson still works to use his superhero powers for the common good and they eagerly await the arrival of baby Carter, due May 29, 2013. They also just as eagerly await their little family member whom they’re adopting internationally from Ghana, West Africa.
NOTE: All photos courtesy of Whitney Darling Photography.