Interview with

Founder & Teacher,

Happy Memorial Day to everyone listening. The Ask Pastor John podcast continues rolling along, and for the next few days were going to talk about adoption. Pastor John, your 18-year-old daughter Talitha recently graduated from High School, a momentous occasion you have written and blogged about recently. At this stage in her life — and this stage in your own life — do you have any reflections about her story and about adoption in general?

Ok. Yeah. I want to take this opportunity, Tony, to encourage, again, those who are considering adoption or even have already adopted and might be running into difficulties: remember, I was 50 years old when we adopted Talitha. She was eight weeks old. She was born in Georgia. We were living in Minneapolis. She was our only daughter. We raised four sons, only adopted child, only African American child and it was a closed adoption. We don’t have any idea who her mother or her father are. And we would be totally fine if Talitha wanted to know who they are, but I just mentioned those facts to show the challenges we were facing. They felt very significant to me. And the reason I feel like I want to encourage folks is not just because we overcame some of those obstacles like being 50 years old, but because the more, the longer, and the wider the culture of adoption becomes in our churches the more stories multiply of great pain and great sorrow in these experiences. And I don’t want to white wash any of that. People need to have their eyes opened. Parents who are pondering adoption need to know the kinds of sorrows that they might encounter, but, of course, they will say—and they are right: All parenting is unpredictable. A biologically born child to a mom or dad may have huge physical or psychological issues. They may die early. They may be disabled in an accident. You may wind up caring for your child as long as you live. And that is quite apart from adoption. They may break your heart, turning away from your faith. They may experience divorce or professional catastrophe and on and on and on. And parenting never stops. We thought: Well, we will parent for 40 years and then we will be done. And not true.

So I just want to encourage those folks who are considering adoption that, yes, you will encounter the possibilities of incredible and unbearable challenges. Children who have lived in orphanages or passed around among relatives they bring issues. They bring stuff to the family that you don’t have any idea about. I have seen cases of compulsive stealing and lying and running away from home and expressed hatred for mom and dad and bizarre behaviors like banging your head against this concrete floor until it bleeds. I mean, you are sometimes just: What have we gotten into? And everybody needs to know that whether it is a naturally born child or a naturally adopted child, that might be your lot. And when you embrace a child one way or the other God expects you to fulfill your obligations. And yet sometimes it can’t happen. I have seen disruptions that break everybody’s heart. And I don’t think the parents were wrong to do that kind of disruption.

But the main thing I want to say is: there are happy stories. And I want to make sure people hear happy stories, because there are so many of the other kind, I think. And Talitha, our daughter, is a happy story. And I am not so naïve as to think, well, it is over. You know, she is home free at 18. That is not true. I know that is not true, but at this point I am so thankful that we did what we did. She is just graduated from high school, which is why I am thinking about this. And she is going to Boyce College in Louisville in the fall and she trusted Christ when she was eight years old and I think has given significant evidence of the work of the Spirit in her life. We’ve got our tensions at home and I think probably some of them are unique to an adoptive situation, but she has been so blessed and her work ethic is just off the charts reliable. She has done all of her school work without any arm twisting whatsoever. She wonders why college freshmen can’t get their assignments in on time when she is in the same class with them online right now. Ands she has loved to learn to cook and she keeps her room neat and she has avoided very major destructive relationships. And she has loved the Church and she has got wonderful, deep friendships. And she and we are not perfect and we are all growing to a greater maturity and that is necessary. But it is a good story and people need to know that we don’t look back with any regrets.

What a precious testimony. Thank you for sharing that with us Pastor John. Tomorrow we will talk to couples who are considering adoption. And then, Lord willing, on Wednesday we will wrap up this little 3-part series on adoption to talk though one big issue of raising an adopted child: explaining adoption to your adopted child — when and how? Well, perhaps you’re like many couples and you’re listening to this and thinking to yourself: With so many orphans in the world, why would any Christian couple even consider having biological children of their own? If that’s a question you’ve thought about — and it’s an important one — be sure to check out Ask Pastor John episode #202 in the archive. We’ll be back tomorrow, and Pastor John will offer some counsel to couples pondering adoption. I’m your host Tony Reinke, thanks for listening to the Ask Pastor John podcast.