“We have 15 year old twins that we would like for you to consider adopting,” the adoption specialist told me when I answered the phone. I remember that day like it was yesterday. It was a warm summer day in 2012 and I was at work just like any other day. I told her that I would speak to my husband, and give her a call back.
2012 was a year of change for my husband and I. We had begun the process to adopt in March of that year. At the time it was just us and Oswald, the dog. As we prepared and prayed for the future children God would bless us with, we decided that we were going to open our home to a sibling group of 2 possibly somewhere between the ages 5 and 12. Babies kind of scare us (I’m joking…. a little J)! We knew sibling groups and older children were often harder to place, but we very clearly felt like that’s who God was calling us to adopt. We prepared two of the rooms in our 3 bedroom, 1 bath house to receive these future blessings. The rooms were finished in April, right before I headed back to school to complete my Bachelors degree, followed by my Masters degree in Marriage and Family Therapy. Each time the phone rang we would wonder if this was the call that would change our lives, and our future children’s lives, forever.
And that call, on that warm summer day, was just the call we had waited for. When the adoption specialist came over to share more about these 15 year old girls, we found out that the twins had a younger sister, age 11, that we could adopt as well. So much of this story was outside of what we had planned for when we began the adoption process. Then, the specialist asked if we might be willing to let one of the girls bring her cat. After she left we knew we needed to pray!! Going from no children to 2 already seemed like a pretty scary and God-sized goal, but 3 teenagers and a cat—that seemed down right impossible!! And did I mention we only had 1 bathroom and rooms set up for 2?! We prayed about it and knew that these 3 beauties were definitely supposed to be ours.
We made rooms for 2 into rooms for 3 in just a few days, and prepared as best we could. Due to their older age, and the fact that school was about to start, things moved quickly. We met them one week, and they moved in the next. They moved in on our youngest daughter’s 12th birthday, so as you can imagine that birthday consisted of Taco Bell (her choice) and cash as a gift! That day, we became a family of 5 with a dog AND a cat (have I mentioned I’m not really a cat person?!).
One of our earliest conversations after the girls moved in was about the fact that this new thing we were doing would at times be awkward, and sometimes it was. When strangers become family, lots of grace and flexibility is required. As parents, we skipped the potty training stage and jumped right into all things teenager, like learning how to drive and how to navigate high school.
One of the side effects of adopting teenagers is an increase in your prayer life. Many nights I fell asleep with tears in my eyes as I thought through the day, and how ill prepared I was for this huge God-sized task. But that was the thing: it was a task that was too big for me and too big for my husband (and he’s pretty awesome!). We knew if God didn’t show up we would fail miserably. In the way that God always does, He did show up and He showed up in beautiful and unexpected ways! Our daughters showed us grace as we figured out this parenting thing, most of the time on the fly. We all made mistakes, but we just kept going. It’s now been 5 years since these 3 beautiful girls walked into our lives, and took up residence in our hearts! Our house has been a little chaotic at times, but it has been the best kind of chaos. They are absolutely the best and the bravest girls I know and I can barely remember what our lives were like before them.
So far the only down side I’ve seen to adopting teenagers is that they leave you just as you’re getting to know them really well. Our twins have graduated from high school, and don’t live at home anymore. One is serving in the United States Marine Corp and one still lives and works in the NWA area. Our youngest daughter is just beginning her junior year of high school, so we only have a few more years left with her. The path that God called us to has not always been easy, but thanks to a whole lot of prayer, grace, and one of the most amazing support systems ever, our lives move forward for the better!
By Jaclyn Williams, Adoptive Mom