Waiting For a Child: How do I Pray?

When I started an adoption agency, 20 years ago, I soon learned that the most difficult part of the adoption journey for adoptive parents was the wait.  One of the first programs included adoptions from Ukraine.  Families traveled to Ukraine to select their child. Often these families experienced delays in their anticipated date of travel to Ukraine, where they identified and adopted their children.  These were truly blind matches.  Each one of these children had to be on a registry for at least one year.  Many times families who had a minor delay in getting to Ukraine found out that their children had just “come off the registry.”  If the parents had traveled just a week earlier, their child may not have been available. Once the parents realized this reality, they knew why God had allowed them to have a glitch, such as  finger-printing delays or waiting for a doctor’s letter.

Parents who have adopted domestically and have waited “too long” to be matched with an expectant mother or who have been matched only to have the birth mother change her mind, know all to well the range of emotions that comes with being passed by as the expectant mom selects another couple—or worse—watch as the baby goes home with a mom who may not be ready to parent while the couple  tearfully leaves the hospital with an empty car seat…Yet, when they finally receive their baby, they then understand and often say, “She was worth the wait.”

These stories have happy endings, and within a few months if not any more than a few years, the parents understand why there were delays and even rejections and denials.  But how do parents pray when they struggle to understand why a child waits in an orphanage while the country, which has decided to “become Hague-compliant” puts adoptions on hold, causing scores of children to languish in orphanages instead of thriving in loving families? How can the parents of these children see God’s perfect outcome when we all know that children belong in families and not malnourished and alone in orphanages?

Giving answers to provide hope for these parents is more than quoting a Bible verse.  For 20 years, I have hesitated to writing such words in how to pray while the parents wait. Here is one reason for my hesitation: a long-gone agency would send a list of Bible verses to waiting families that  I sensed had the overtone of “you are just not praying enough, and your impatience is sinful.”  I always felt that “telling” families how to pray was patronizing and did not send a message of empathy.

As waiting parents, we know that God cares for the orphan and unborn child, but how do we reconcile God’s care for this child yet the adoption is delayed or thwarted? More specifically, we each may ask, “How do I pray for my child and his adoption, knowing God is sovereign?”  After all, “He does whatever He pleases” (Psalm 115:3).

Perhaps it is not in the understanding of the delays or denials in adoption that should direct our prayers. Neither is it understanding the dashed expectations that come with receiving a child who has more serious medical problems, or unknown cognitive and developmental delays, or greater emotional issues than anticipated. Rather, it is knowing that God has a plan—whether we know or even like that plan.

Not only have we been told God has a plan, but we also know the character of God. This understanding of God rather than the circumstances enables us to pray for the child for whom we long.

So what do we know about God as we pray for our child?

First, we read in Ephesians 1:3-5 that God chose us for adoption in Him.  If God is in control of our adoption in Him, then he, likewise, is in control of our children’s adoptions. We also know from a few verses down, in Ephesian 1:11, that He works out everything in conformity with the purpose of His will.

God now only has a will and purpose for each one of us—starting with our glorifying Him—but He also has a will for waiting children.  In fact, God has a special place and concern for orphans.

10 Ways to Practically Praying For My Child’s Adoption

  1. Ask God to prepare your heart and minds for your child in realistic and practical ways.
  2. Ask others to pray. God can use these prayers to make your friends and family more sensitive to the plight of orphans, and the needs of birth parents.
  3. Pray that God would protect your child’s body, heart, and mind.
  4. Pray for your child’s salvation.
  5. Pray for your child’s birth parents.  You may never know your child’s birth parents living in another country, God knows who they are.  Pray for their salvation, their comfort, and their needs.
  6. Pray for government officials in Washington and abroad. So many delays and country closings are caused by those who sit in high places (Proverbs 21:1).
  7. Pray for the details of the adoption that God would enable the process to go smoothly according to His will. Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails. (Proverbs 19:21).
  8. Pray for those who work on your adoption. We need good health, strong minds, and resourcefulness to accomplish the tasks at hand.  The evil one would does not desire children to be in homes.
  9. Pray for your marriage and that during this time, you and your spouse will grow closer together.
  10. Pray that the adoption process would go smoothly and quickly.

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