Several years ago my wife and I told our biological son Will, who was 4 years old at the time, that we were thinking about adopting a child. He already had one little brother (also biological), and we told him to pray, asking God if He wanted Will to have another brother or sister. So he prayed. For fifty brothers and sisters!
While God didn’t fully answer that ambitious prayer, He did recently bless us with one adopted child—a 4-year-old boy from Ethiopia named Amare. We brought him home in August to join our family forever, having no idea how it would all unfold.
When we first met him in Ethiopia, he was wearing girls’ clothes that didn’t fit and sneakers with the Velcro so worn out that they wouldn’t stay on his tiny feet. He was so quiet and subdued. He had been brought to his orphanage severely malnourished, and he could barely hold himself up on the couch when we sat with him, trying to connect, but receiving mostly silence and blank stares.
Despite all the time and emotion we had invested to finally reach the point of meeting our new child, the enormity of the situation overwhelmed me and I couldn’t help but wonder in my weakness if I was equipped to be Amare’s father. After four years of living either without food or parents at any given time, how was I supposed to give this fragile boy what he needed to heal and grow into a healthy and happy child?
And what about Will and Garrett? Would they embrace their new little brother? Or be jealous? My wife and I were aware of the great need to adopt older children and had always felt led in that direction, but we also knew that that could create special challenges. How would bringing an older child from another continent into our home affect our family? With these questions ruling my mind, we traveled across the world with this child we hardly knew and introduced him to his new home.
All my doubts were quickly erased.
Though it was only six months ago that he joined our family, it seems so distant and I can’t imagine life without Amare. I’m not going to say the transition has been entirely free of issues, but on balance I’m amazed at how smoothly it’s progressed so far. Amare is a perfect fit for our family. And though the amazingly energetic Will was hoping for fifty brothers and sisters, Amare is plenty to keep him—and Garrett—occupied.
They immediately embraced their little brother, introducing him to the joys of LEGOs, ice cream, and wrestling. They’re helping him learn English, how to put his shoes on, and ride a tricycle. He’s eating well, quickly growing in size and confidence, unafraid to join in whatever his older brothers are doing (for better or worse). They all run around, screaming for joy almost incessantly at the fun they have together, as if Amare’s always been a part of our wild, yet moderately functional, family.
Looking back, I’m utterly amazed at what God has done through this adoption—for Amare and for each of his new family members, especially me. I never should have doubted that He would bring any child other than the child who is the perfect fit for our family. I am Amare’s new earthly father, just as God intended. And I couldn’t be happier about it.
In fact, my wife and I are ready to start the adoption process all over again, requesting another older child from Ethiopia. This time, despite the uncertainty of how it will all unfold, I have no doubt that it will end up exactly as it should.