Meant to be
Shannon and Josh's story
By Focus on the Family Canada staff
Shannon always wanted to adopt. Her husband Josh had never thought about it.
“During our engagement,” Shannon says, “Jesus melted our hearts together.” Not long after getting married, they started down the path to adoption. Initially, they considered international adoption. Paperwork. Waiting. Application. Then, no. That path seemed closed.
Soon after, Shannon found out she was pregnant. Adoption plans were put on hold. At a friend’s wedding, the couple became reacquainted with family they knew who were fostering seven-year-old twins. Discussions led to an opportunity to do respite for this family and the couple began a relationship with the children. On the twins’ eighth birthday, Shannon and Josh had the twins over and Shannon recognized that she had grown to love them. She prayed about the possibility of bringing them permanently into their family and felt God clearly saying no. With hurting hearts, they backed off, knowing they needed to follow God’s direction.
Shannon and Josh had their own beautiful baby, but the tug for adoption did not subside, so they applied again and through a series of circumstances, that door shut again.
Time passed. An opportunity arose for them to have the twins in their home for a weekend again and the love that had grown for these children was still strong in their hearts. It was becoming clearer and clearer that these children were meant to belong to their family. Shannon shared this growing conviction with Josh. They spent four days fasting and praying – no food, no talk, just prayer.
Josh shared his growing conviction that they should pursue this adoption. The only other thing in his life he had been as sure of was his decision to marry Shannon, because he was convinced it was built on the foundation of Christ. They reached out to the foster parents and communicated their desire. The foster mom shared that she had also been moved to pray during the time they had been fasting and now she understood why she had felt this need.
Shannon and Josh contacted the appropriate authorities and expressed their desire to commit to the children. Visits increased. They reflected that the hardest part was not telling the children their plans (which they could not do until their home study was finished and approval given). Many affirmations that could only have come from God’s hand came as the social workers were able to share more intimate information about the children with them.
Finally, the day came when the news could be revealed to the children. Transition visits were scheduled and the move from one home to the next began. The children would spend part of the week with the foster family and the rest of the week with Shannon and Josh. One of the children began calling them “Mom” and “Dad” almost immediately; the other took a while longer – though even then it happened sooner than they anticipated. Shannon and Josh feel blessed that the foster family had encouraged the children to refer to them as “Aunt” and “Uncle” instead of “Mom” and “Dad,” making those titles and roles special after the adoption.
Shannon and Josh are candid about some of the struggles involved in adopting older children from the foster care system. Though they were cared for in a wonderful foster home consistently for several years, the twins have attachment issues that need to be addressed. And they have a variety of needs that can be challenging.
Shannon and Josh are so grateful that their unique circumstances afforded opportunities for stability that adoption does not always allow, such as the children being able to remain in the same school and with the friends they were accustomed to. There were adjustment issues with their biological son, although now they think he might just prefer the twins over them!
The strong conviction of God’s leading in this has kept Shannon and Josh going through all of the adjustments, and their commitment to seeing these children thrive is evident! Their faces glow when they speak of the incredible support they received from their church family. Someone very thoughtfully hosted a “new parents’ shower.” Their new additions were celebrated with such things as gift cards for clothes for the children, an idea box, a year of free haircuts and gift cards for family activities – a wonderful way to help them have opportunities for family bonding. Church members asked how they could help and acted on suggestions Shannon and Josh made, such as helping the children respect boundaries.
Here is their conclusion: “The biggest, most surprising blessing is not what we expected. We have learned how God loves us with an adoption love. He is preparing for us to come home, just like we prepared for the twins. He loves us as His own, equally, just as we love all our children equally. His love is so big, so forgiving and perfect . . . though our love is nothing compared to Christ’s, we love them beyond all the struggles.”
Clearly this family was “meant to be,” in God’s plan.
Shannon and Josh live in rural Saskatchewan with their beautiful children and are becoming avid advocates for adoption in their community.
© 2012 Focus on the Family (Canada) Association. All rights reserved.