Open Heart, Open Home: An Adoption Story
Thy will be done. Four simple words. When God called my husband and me to grow our family through adoption, I was nervous but not afraid. I prayed those words, “Thy will be done!” When my husband excitedly told me that he had found “our children” listed on the Open Hearts and Homes orphan hosting program web page, I was excited. When I shook the mouse for our computer and up popped up a picture of a Latvian sibling group of FOUR, I panicked.
We had had a plan: go from two children at home (the oldest of our three biological children was grown and in the Army), to four children at home. Not six. I envisioned a sibling pair, younger than our biological children, not double that! My husband was one hundred percent sure these were our children, and I was equally sure he was crazy. Again, I prayed those words—“Thy will be done!”—and eventually, God showed us both that these children were indeed our children. In September of 2013 they came home forever.
Our mindset was strong—we had prayed for these children, we loved these children, we prepared for these children, and we knew how to parent, so we assumed we were all set. But then our new reality set in. We had internationally adopted four children ages 7, 9, 11, and 14 years old, and all of our love and experience was just not enough for what they needed. I quickly learned I could not parent my “Latvian Loves” as I had my “Homegrown” children. I also realized I couldn’t just love them through the trauma of their past because they didn’t understand how to trust our love.
I got angry with God. Why was this so hard? I could feel myself drowning and no matter what I did, nothing seemed to help. I had to surrender and let go of my expectations. I had to trust Him wholly and completely. I had to learn to parent differently. I searched and found a training called the Trauma Competent Caregiver, and it was life changing.
I had to be intentional in helping my children develop felt-safety and trust. I had to meet my children where they were developmentally, not where I thought they should be because of their chronological age. I had to teach my Latvian Loves that they were precious and loved and that they had a voice. I had to be careful that I allowed my Homegrown children to maintain their voice. I had to focus on myself and my husband and maintain our relationship.
I developed my “village,” people I could pray with and reach out to for help. And I prayed. A lot. I prayed for wisdom and discernment. I prayed for peace in the chaos. I prayed for rest because I was weary. I prayed those words, “Thy will be done!”
Surrendering to God’s will does not mean a life of rainbows and unicorns. It means getting out of God’s way so that he can bring beauty from the ashes, a redemption only He can orchestrate. Those four words destroyed my original plan, but I learned God’s plan is so much more beautiful that anything I could have ever imagined.
Our adoption story does not end there. The plight of the fatherless drives my family to mentor and love children from all over the world. We continue to host and advocate for available children through the Open Hearts and Homes Orphan Hosting program. We share love with orphans through summer ministry abroad. We raise funds to fight human trafficking and pack duffle bags for local foster children. We pray. We hit our knees and pray.
It never ceases to amaze me how God uses ordinary people to do extraordinary things when we are willing to say yes to his call and his will.
Tara Anderson lives in Ellicott City, Maryland with her husband, Chuck, and 6 of their 7 children. She served six years in the United States Air Force, and in addition to being a full time wife and mother, works part-time for the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory as a project manager. As advocate for orphan ministry and adoption, Tara and Chuck lead the "Project: Hope" ministry at Crossroads Church of the Nazarene in Ellicott City, MD. They are Area Coordinators for the Open Hearts and Homes Orphan Hosting Program, and she is an Affiliate Trainer with Back2Back Ministries for the Trauma Competent Caregiver Training, helping caregivers move from being Trauma Compassionate to Trauma Competent.
Tara can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.