This post marks the start of a new dynamic on this blog. The old stuff will continue – musings on a variety of issues will carry on as before. What I’m adding in this series is more about the recording of a journey my wife (Bev) and I have stepped into. We’ll be documenting this journey was best we can, with what I hope will be appropriate honesty without over-sharing. Thank you for joining us.
Photo from Bev Meldrum Photography (bevmeldrum.com)
Before Bev and I got married, which was now over 15 years ago, we took the decision together that if we were to have children we would do so by adopting. Bev herself is an adopted child, as is her brother (from a different birth family). We decided that if children were to be part of our future, then we’d want to make sure others had the same sort of opportunity Bev had. She was always acutely aware how differently things could have turned out if she hadn’t been adopted into such a loving, stable, Christian home. That decision having been taken, we carried on with married life occasionally touching in with one another on the subject of children. Each time we did so neither of us felt any sort of stirring towards adoption.
However we sought to promote the idea. We see it is a profound expression of Christ-centred love. The Bible is rich with the imagery of God’s love for us expressed in terms of adoption into God’s plans and family; we would, when the opportunity presented itself, urge Christians to give more thought to the option of adoption as something they may be prompted to explore. We also took the decision to open up our home and lives to people with less than supportive home environments, as a result of which there is a small number of people with whom we have unofficial, but no less meaningful, parental-type relationships. These relationships are life-giving to us, not without challenges, but have seemed to express the heart God has been drawing out of us. Coupled with that, the church I’m now leading (St Peter’s, Mowbray, Cape Town) is not a large one, but it’s one that seems to have more than its fair share of people who have adopted and/or fostered children. We found it interesting to reflect that, without a great deal of effort, this seemed to have happened, to be the shape of this community.
Earlier this year that sense shifted up a gear or two. Through a series of social media connections, we were invited to join a discussion with a few church and NGO leaders in Cape Town, facilitated by British theologian and adoption advocate Krish Kandiah. In the UK Krish heads up an organisation called Home For Good, which seeks to promote the idea of adoption in British churches. He was facilitating the discussion in Cape Town to help us see what like-minded people here could do together. He also ended up speaking at our church the next day. Over that 24-hours, a fire was lit in us. We were encouraged that there were many others around in this city who felt similarly, and Krish’s experience and theological grounding gave us real insight. At a break Bev and I turned to each other. Bev voiced what I was feeling too – that if we really wanted our church community to take this seriously we needed to be the ones leading on it. Maybe we needed to consider again what we ourselves were doing.
This lead to a series of discussions, dreams and thoughts between the two of us; which led us to the point where suddenly the possibility of fostered children in our future was a real, viable and heart-warming one. There are, however, a series of unanswered questions – around our visa status (we’re in the potentially year-long (or more) wait for approval of our application for Permanent Residency in the country), not least. This means, for instance, that official fostering is not yet an option. So we’re only, at this stage, considering fostering of an unofficial nature; certainly not adoption, and until we have visa clarity, not fully official fostering either.
We were, however, that we do not exist in a vacuum. We are in a position of community leadership; and to adapt an old saying, it takes a community to raise a child. We have a church community which we lead and for which we hold responsibility. A decision we take affects others.
So this weekend we invited our community to gather around us and help us begin to discern what God might be saying to us on the subject of fostering. That is the subject of part two, to follow soon.