I see you. I’ve been in the dark place where you are–a place where there is nothing more that you can do. You’ve filled out all of your paperwork. You’ve chosen your path of adoption – domestic, international, foster care. You’ve painted the bedroom and hung pictures on the walls. Yet your arms are still empty, your heart still aching.
The waiting is, by far, the hardest part about adoption. When there are things to do to get ready, at least your mind and hands are busy. But being in the “waiting room” can feel pretty lonely – especially when you keep getting invited to your friends’ baby showers or hearing story after story of another family bringing home their children!
Waiting is hard. Honestly, I am terrible at waiting! During our first adoption, the waiting finally got the best of me, and I admit that I had a panic attack. Maybe the baby would be sick. Maybe the birth mother would change her mind and choose one of the other families, since she already knew that there was absolutely no way she would be allowed to raise the baby herself. Maybe we wouldn’t be able to afford to pay the attorney when we finalized the adoption. Maybe we wouldn’t be good parents. The doubts and fears broke through my already-fragile mind and started to take root in my heart.
In Genesis 17, we read about another woman who had been waiting for a very long time to have a son. Sarah was 89 years old when God made a covenant with her husband, Abraham, who was 99 years old! We all know the story – even people who don’t know much about the Bible have heard of these two elderly people being promised to have a child. In fact, God promised that they would have as many offspring as the stars in the heavens and the sand on the seashore!
That sounds so exciting! We’re going to have a baby! Let’s get ready! Let’s prepare his room! Let’s tell all of our friends! (Sound familiar?)
And a year later, Sarah, at the age of 90, gave birth to Isaac – just as God had promised. But do you think that was easy for Sarah? How lonely it must have been for her in the “waiting room”! For most of her life – probably around 80 years – Sarah wanted a baby. The women of Bible times were blessed with children, and it was a disgrace for a woman to be barren. Think of how she must have felt seeing all of her friends having babies and rejoicing with their husbands.
By the age of 89, I am sure she had resigned herself to never being a mother. All of her friends were probably already enjoying grandchildren and great-grandchildren. Why would she continue to expect a baby of her own?
“So Sarah laughed to herself as she thought, ‘After I am worn out and my lord is old, will I now have this pleasure?’” (Gen. 18:12).
In fact, Sarah had become so set in her heart that she would never be a mother that she took matters into her own hands.
“Now Sarai, Abram’s wife, had borne him no children. But she had an Egyptian slave named Hagar; so she said to Abram, ‘The Lord has kept me from having children. Go, sleep with my slave; perhaps I can build a family through her.’ Abram agreed to what Sarai said. So after Abram had been living in Canaan 10 years, Sarai his wife took her Egyptian slave Hagar and gave her to her husband to be his wife. He slept with Hagar, and she conceived” (Gen. 16:1-4).
This seems like such an extreme choice to make! Why would Sarai give her husband permission to sleep with someone else? But they didn’t have fertility treatments in those days. They didn’t have artificial insemination. They didn’t have surrogates. All they had was another person who could bear children. Before we judge Sarai too harshly, I think we should remember, again, how desperately lonely and isolated you feel in the “waiting room.” Remember that sometimes we make impulsive decisions when we think we have run out of hope, when we think that God has abandoned or forgotten about us.
But, Friends, if you learn nothing else from Sarah’s story, learn this – God is sitting in that “waiting room” with you! He hasn’t left you, forgotten about you, or turned you away. God is faithful ALL. THE. TIME. He’s just got a different timetable for our lives than we do.
“But do not let this one fact escape your notice, beloved, that with the Lord one day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years like one day. The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance” (2 Pt. 3:8-9).
I know the waiting seems long! I know you want to throw in the towel! But God has such an enormous plan for you that you don’t even know about! And He has the perfect children for your empty arms!
“He gives the barren woman a home, making her the joyous mother of children. Praise the LORD!” Ps. 113:9).
Oh, if only Sarah had known that – if only she had felt God sitting with her in that dark “waiting room”! Maybe then she wouldn’t have given her husband the freedom to cheat on her. Maybe she wouldn’t have created a bitterness in Hagar’s heart toward her for what she forced her slave to do. Perhaps there wouldn’t be warring factions of Ishmael’s and Isaac’s descendants still today. Perhaps if she had just waited on God’s plan, there would have been peace in the land.
I know what you are going through. I have walked that path before. So listen to me when I tell you that God has not left you to wait on your own. He is there, holding your hand, waiting for you to turn to Him. He isn’t surprised by your situation. When you asked Him to give you children, He didn’t stop to think about it. He already knows! The answer may be yes. It may be no. Or it may just be wait.
God is faithful. He keeps His promises! We have that assurance because we can see examples of His goodness and faithfulness throughout scripture. But, as was pointed out in my Sunday school class this week, Abraham and Sarah didn’t have the Bible or the experiences of other believers. They simply had to hold on to faith in a God who made them a promise.
God wants us to trust on Him in the waiting. It’s easy to trust Him when He tells us yes. It’s even easy to trust Him and see His goodness in the no. But the waiting — that’s the hard part! The unknown scares us; the inability to control the outcome overwhelms us. And we soon fall apart. But what blessings can we see if we are willing to wait? How can we bless others when they see us gracefully waiting? What can we learn?
I know the waiting seems long. But remember how long Sarah had to wait – 90 years! God has a child who may not need you in this very moment. But they will need you in six months or a year or even five years. God knows.
So when the waiting seems long and lonely, take heart in knowing that you are not alone and ask God to help you grow in Christ in the “waiting room.”