Hey y'all my name is Alison Sandridge. My husband Stephen and I moved to North Carolina last year so that he could attend SEBTS. We are so excited for what the Lord has in store for our future ministry and thrilled with where He is using us now! We will be married 3 years this May. Stephen and I met because his dad became the pastor of my home church when I was in middle school. Stephen and I started dating when I went to college. He and I have always had a love for orphans. We have both served separately at orphanges abroad. We knew even before we were married that we would one day adopt.
Something you should know about me though is that in my flesh, I want to be in control of everything! I'm a huge planner. I make lists and timelines for everything. Really y'all, it is such a joy for me to make lists and check things off that sometimes I start my list with “make a list” so I have something to check off right away, haha! I know that's awful, right? Well thankfully the Lord has been working on changing that about me and He has used our heart for adoption as a big instrument in this change.
See, I had this perfect plan for our family. I knew when and how and how many children we would have. So I just prayed and basically invited God to come along on this journey I had already planned! Crazy, but sometimes we do that. Instead of trusting the Lord with our future, we plan our future and then ask God to bless it! I cannot tell you how overwhelmed I am at the grace God has shown me in the these last few years. It has at times been incredibly painful but it has been so good! The Lord has stripped me of all my best laid plans and left me with nothing to cling to but Him and His precious Word!
After a miscarriage and some new information from doctors, we turned our focus from hopes of pregnancy to hopes of adoption. I did tons of research and mapped out the best course of action but I was relying on my own ability to plan rather than humbly coming before my Father and seeking the direction He would have me to take. Things have certainly not worked out how I originally planned but I am so thankful!
“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord.”
“For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.” Jeremiah 29:11
At the beginning, we knew we would adopt “one day” because we are passionate about orphan care and we want a big family so that just fits perfectly! But the Lord has graciously shown us such a better picture of adoption. When we really started looking into adopting when we realized pregnancy was going to be difficult for us, we read an incredible book called Adopted for Life by Russell Moore. That book led us to truth after truth in the Word about adoption. We realized that this adoption we so longed for here on earth was just a little picture of the perfect adoption we had already experienced through the blood of Christ into the family of God.
“The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship. And by him we cry, 'Abba, Father.'” Romans 8:15
“But when the set time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those under the law, that we might receive adoption to sonship. Because you are his sons, God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out, 'Abba, Father.'” Galatians 4:4-6
“For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love he predestined us for adoption to sonship through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves.” Ephesians 1:4-6
Friends, those are just a few of the verses that we can hold onto that tell us that we are now truly adopted into the family of God, no longer enemies but heirs with Christ! Isn't that incredible?! Stephen and I were learning so much about the Lord and His love for us as we sought to learn about adoption. We were also learning about God's love for orphans. We can see that over and over in the Word too. I really encourage you to look through the Bible and just search for words like orphan and adoption and see what you learn. You aren't all called to adopt, but you are all called to care for orphans and if you are in Christ then you, yourself, have been adopted! As we learned these things our desire to adopt became stronger and stronger. We long to mirror God's adoption of us to children that He deeply cares for and has commanded us to care for! We are so excited to share with our children one day that though we love them and want to do the absolute best for them, that we will let them down sometimes, but that we can introduce them to a Father who will NEVER let them down and will always love them PERFECTLY! Though we originally thought adoption was plan B, God intended it for plan A so we set out much earlier than we thought on our journey towards adoption.
Our adoption process...
Stephen and I first thought we would only adopt internationally. We had fears, but mostly misunderstandings about what domestic adoption looked like. But once again those were our plans and not the Lord's. One night I was hanging out with some ladies I was friends with and blabbing about why I would “never” adopt domestically because of this or that fear. Not too long after, one of those sweet friends had Stephen and I over to her house and sat us down to share her story of domestic infant adoption. My incredible friend is a birthmom to a beautiful daughter, I had no idea before that night. As she sat there and humbly told us her story, I just wept. The Lord completely changed our view on domestic adoption that night and I will always be thankful to that friend for allowing the Lord to use her to direct us to the child He has planned for our family. At that same time I was volunteering at a crisis pregnancy center and God used the combination of that testimony from my friend and the numerous mothers I was developing relationships with there to pull my heart towards a desire for an open domestic adoption.
We decided on an agency and planned to start as soon as we had been married for 2 years which was required. But when that time came the Lord had shown us another plan. We had just moved to North Carolina and we still owned our home in Georgia, we didn't have employment or insurance so we were in no place to start the adoption process. I was really hurt by that. I was angry, really, with the Lord for making me move when that would mess up my adoption plans that I thought He had given to me! Even in my sin, the Lord covered me with grace and showed me again that His plans are better than mine. The Lord has used this past year to teach Stephen and I so much about Himself, about marriage, and about our hopes for adoption and parenting.
We are now happily at our starting point in the adoption process. We are beginning our paperwork and working through some requirements that we must meet. We are so so so incredibly excited! We have started fund-raising for our adoption and have already seen the Lord bless it tremendously. We know there is a long journey ahead of us but we are just happy to be starting!
What have been the biggest struggles/joys?
The biggest struggle has to be the waiting. It truly hurts my heart deeply some days to have no children filling our home. I long to hold them and see their sweet faces. It hurts to have to wait and wait and wait. I know that the Lord is using this time for such good and that we must cherish this time in our lives where we have so much extra time to devote ministry, marriage, and to service to the Lord. But the waiting is hard and the waiting hurts. But friends the Lord knows my heart and He is able to heal all that is broken. And most importantly, the Lord is all I need. I don't need to adopt or get pregnant or ever have any children at all, I need Christ! My identity is not tied up in motherhood, Christ is my identity. So I cling to that and I wait.
The joys even as we wait are ever present. I am continually overwhelmed at the love our Father has for us as we learn more about what He has done for us through our adoption! We are blessed beyond belief with sweet friends and family who encourage us, pray for us, and give financially to our adoption. Also, this calling to adopt places us in this sweet little community of families who have or are adopting and we experience joy after joy as we see others bring home their children and we watch the healing that takes place in little hearts that are placed in their forever families. Additionally, we long for a future joy that only the Lord knows the time and face of!
And lastly, what I wish for you to know about adoption:
The thing I am continually trying to communicate is that adoption is not a second best option. Some people have been confused because I certainly have grieved the loss of pregnancy, but not because that is the “best” way or the only way to get children of your “own.” The child we will adopt will be our own, absolutely. There is nothing that will make them not our own. We aren't shopping around for the most attractive, healthy, or easy option. We are adopting the child God has predestined for our family. We will accept whatever that means just like we would if I were pregnant. If we start to think of adoption as a substandard way of bringing children into our family then what does that mean for us eternally? Are we not really God's own? Do we not really have the full inheritance of Christ or are we second best to the first children of God, the Israelites? No, that's absolutely not true! God sent Jesus so that we could be adopted as sons with the full inheritance given to us. Adoption was always God's plan for me to join His family and it has always been His plan for Stephen and I to adopt our children too. I am certainly not telling you that pregnancy is second best either but they are truly both best because they are what God planned for each family.
“For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place, when I was woven together in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.” Psalm 139:13-16
We may not yet or ever know the womb in which our child is knit, but we know the knitter and He has already ordained all of their days. We can trust that and hold on to that truth!
Adoption is such passion for us and such a joy to talk about! Thank you for allowing me to share a little with you about what the Lord is doing in our family! Please feel free to follow our story at http://sandridgesdaybyday.blogspot.com