Called to adopt, later in life

Alan and Anne’s story

By Julie Vaughan

Alan and Anne Chin started out in life like many other couples. They got married, began a new life together and gave birth to four beautiful children. Life was filled with the expected busyness of a thriving family of six, but something kept tugging at their hearts – adoption.

Anne, in particular, had always been interested in adoption, and before she and Alan were married, they had agreed that it was something they both had a heart for. But for many years, the doors for adoption just didn’t seem to be opening. Before they knew it, Alan was 64, Anne was 50 and their children were growing up. But it was exactly at this point that God began to clearly lead them to adoption.

“I was doing a Bible study, reading John Ortberg’s book If You Want to Walk on Water, You’ve Got to Get Out of the Boat,” says Anne. “We’d sort of been expecting God to ‘bring a child to our front door,’ but that theme – get out of the boat, walk on water – spoke to us. We knew we had the energy and love to take on another child. So we just took that first step of faith and made that phone call.”

After contacting BC’s Ministry of Children and Family Development, the Chins began the process of exploring whether adoption was a good fit for their family – and whether they were a good fit for a waiting child.

The Chins also received some free training through several group sessions. In these groups, they were taught about the kinds of children waiting to be adopted, as well as many of the potential challenges adoptive families face. Anne says, “Some information is intimidating, even scary, but then you’re discerning what you could and couldn’t do – ‘I know I’m not wired for . . .’ ” Through these sessions, the Chins learned that there are many effective resources out there to help adoptive families – including post-adoption assistance, counselling, tutoring and many other sources of support.

About a year after making that initial phone call to start the adoption process, the Chins brought home their first adopted child, a girl of nine years old. But this wasn’t the end of their adoption story. In a matter of five years, the Chins would adopt a total of four children, two of whom were siblings.

“With each of our adoptions, we experienced a different prompting from God,” shares Anne. With their first child, it was the theme of listening carefully and taking that first step of faith to “get out of the boat.”

With their second and third adoptions (siblings), Alan and Anne clearly felt the Lord impressing upon their hearts Jesus’ words in John 21:17, “Do you love Me? . . . Feed My sheep.” Fittingly, when the siblings were first introduced to the Chins, one of the little girls handed Anne a gift she had made herself – a little sheep. Though it was a small, unknowing gesture, it was further confirmation that God was again opening the doors of adoption to their family.

Shortly thereafter, the Chins completed a fourth adoption – another girl, nine years of age – after sensing the Lord speaking to them through John 21:6, “Throw your net on the right side of the boat and you will find some.” Anne explains, “It was as if God was saying, If you’re wondering, just cast your net out.”

For the Chins, the process of adopting wasn’t necessarily easy, but they had a very good experience with the Ministry of Children and Family Development. Through the ministry, they were able to learn about the needs of children in their own community. In fact, each of their adopted children had been living within a 10-mile radius of their own home. “We have been astounded at the crying needs right here,” says Anne. “A lot of people don’t realize how many children are right here on our doorstep. Many of these kids are praying for families; they’re incredibly alone in the world, and they’re right here. We think of children overseas, but many deeply wounded children are right here.”

The Chins are upfront about the real-life challenges of parenting adoptive kids. “Many of these kids have had traumatic lives, so it’s a mission with a cost. It takes time. But healing happens,” says Anne. Alluding to James 1:27, she makes the point: “Adoption is not always an easy road, but the Bible doesn’t say you have to heal widows and orphans – just care for them.”

Ultimately, Alan and Anne feel that their family has been deeply blessed through adoption. “These children have brought incredible joy and life into our lives, and we have become a stronger and richer family with them being part of our family. All of us have learned a lot about unconditional love, bonding and attaching to others, as well as the true meaning of family and what it means to be adopted into God's family.”

To families beginning to consider adoption, the Chins suggest taking baby steps. “If there are families out there who feel this might be their call, or maybe this is their call, or you have room for a child – call. You have nothing to lose, there’s no commitment in just calling,” says Anne. The Chins suggest that families initially not try to figure out whether they can adopt – just take those initial small steps, then wait on the Lord’s leading.

The Chins also stress the importance of adoptive parents gaining as much information and training as possible, to equip themselves and to learn about the many supports available throughout their journey. They suggest taking courses, checking out adoption support websites, reading up on related issues and forming relationships with other adoptive families.

It’s no surprise that Alan and Anne are passionate advocates of adoption, especially when it comes to the Church. “If every church had one family who would adopt a child,” says Anne, “then the numbers of waiting children in our country would go dramatically down. . . . It is a good process here, and these are the children right on our doorstep. In fact, there are many children who are really wanting Christian families, and they really do pray night after night for a family. These are the forgotten children in our culture.”

Julie Vaughan was the editorial director at Focus on the Family Canada at the time of publication.