What's the scariest word in the English language?
Sky-diving? Bungee-jumping? Crocodile-wrestling (or "wrastling" for our Texan friends)?
Yes, these might be some scary feats, but we believe that the scariest word in the English language is also one of the shortest and simplest: yes.
Y.E.S. Yes. Really?
Think about it the last time you said "yes" to something. Maybe it was something big like, "Yes, I'll marry you!" Or "Yes, I'll take the job!" Or maybe it was something seemingly small like "Yes, you may color pictures in your room." (Only to walk in five minutes later to find your child coloring pictures on the wall instead of in the coloring book!)
When it comes to adoption, there's just one scary "yes" snowballing after another. You have to say the initial "Yes, I'll adopt" and send in the beginning stack of paperwork. Next, it's the "Yes, I'll fill out all my personal information" and tell my whole life story to strangers. Then comes the "Yes, I'll let you open the closets and drawers in my house" to the social worker. (Tip, social workers are really nice people and probably don't really care how clean your hall closet or silverware drawer is!)
And then there's the biggest and scariest one of them all: "Yes, I will commit to adopting this child." In most adoption cases, you're saying "yes" to a child you've never met and you don't know much about. What you do know about them can be extremely vague and their file can be full of gaps and unknowns. You might have medical records two years old which your pediatrician might scratch his head and think means this precious child has serious, lifelong health needs or minor concerns that will be cured with a nurturing family. And you always have to be open for all that the file doesn't say, that this child may have undiscovered medical issues that will alter your family forever.
Yikes, that's a big, fat, scary "yes."
When we received our son's file, "overwhelmed" doesn't even begin to describe how we felt. There was one tiny, fuzzy black-and-white picture of him when he was found and then no information until he was almost two years old. We knew the date he was found and location, however we had no idea his health condition on his finding day or why he was in the local hospital for three months afterwards. He had an ambiguous CT scan and possible signs of a genetic syndrome. The file said he was delayed in all areas of life, but didn't say why or if he was progressing. And there were three recent pictures, all taken of him grasping onto a toy to stand. The medical reports and pictures provoked more questions than answers in our inquisitive minds. And, we had five days to decide whether we were going to change this little serious boy's life forever or say that his needs were too great for our family to handle.
There is nothing harder in the adoption journey than having the power to say a life-giving "yes" or a heartbreaking "no" to an eternal soul a million miles away but forever embedded into your heart. Your family's hard "no" might give an opportunity for another family to say an enthusiastic "yes," however those little faces leave a forever imprint on your heart.
During that longest and hardest week of our adoption journey, we literally ran into the most amazing medical professionals who sought to give us their best perspective on our potential son's information. We reconnected with an old family friend who is a pediatrician and an adoptive father himself. A pediatric nurse specializing in at-risk children overheard me talking in a doctor's office and connected me with our state's resources incase we needed them. And we had probably five other medical professionals and friends say that his file is full of mystery, with his needs being possibly serious or minor.
And throughout all this advice, we prayed. And asked everyone else to pray. That we'd have wisdom and peace. That our Heavenly Father would clearly show us if this boy was the son He prepared for us before the foundations of the world.
Although his name "Man" should have been a flashing sign from God that he was our son, we struggled with overwhelming fears that week. Fears of his known medical conditions and more fears of the unknowns. At the end of the five days, we knew what we had to do.
Say a big, fat, scary "yes." Yes, to what we did know about him and, yes, to what we didn't know about him, trusting that our Heavenly Father would provide for us as we stepped out in faith.
And we are oh so glad we did! We've marveled these past eleven months at how perfect our son is for our family. From his love of the family dog to swimming in the pool to fishing with Daddy. We are so glad we didn't miss his enthusiasm for life, his goofy personality, and his desire to give us snuggles each night. We are so grateful God gave us the wisdom, peace, and faith to say scared "yes" to our precious son.
What is God asking you to say a big, fat, scary "yes" to? Maybe it's being open to welcoming an unknown vulnerable child into your home through foster care or adoption. Maybe it's knowing that you personally can't adopt, but partnering with a family on their journey through prayers and giving of your time and resources. Maybe it's something completely different than caring for orphans, but you know there's a heavy weight is on your heart right now and won't be lifted until you take that first shaky step of faith and obedience.
That old familiar hymn says, "Trust and obey, for there's no other way to be happy in Jesus, but to trust and obey."
What is God asking you to trust and obey Him in today? The great news is that behind every fearful "yes" we say in faithful obedience, our Heavenly Father is right there with us, holding our hand and guiding us every wobbly step of the way.