Revive Our Hearts Podcast

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Dannah Gresh: Have you ever wondered how to encourage someone who’s parenting a child with special needs? Rachel Payleitner has a suggestion.

Rachel Payleitner: I feel like a lot of times, even as the Body of Christ, we’re so quick to try and make sure everybody is cheerful and good and everybody is in a good place, but some days are really hard. So just to have somebody being willing to approach you and say, “How’s it going?”

Dannah: This is Revive Our Hearts with Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth, co-author of You Can Trust God to Write Your Story, for February 28, 2020.

The month of February on Revive Our Hearts has been all about how our vertical relationship with the Lord affects our horizontal relationships with those around us. Let me review:

Nancy showed us the value of the Body of Christ in a series called, “Who Needs the Church?” And Valerie Shepard, the daughter of martyred missionary Jim Elliott and his wife, Elisabeth Elliot Gren, shared some of the things she learned about her mother and father, things she observed in their love letters to one another. Last week Nancy took us to Ecclesiastes chapter 4 to talk about the power of relationships.

For these past couple of days, Randall and Rachel Payleitner have talked about trusting God through infertility and adoption.

If you missed any of these great programs this month, be sure to go back and listen to them. The easiest way to do that is through the Revive Our Hearts app, but you can also listen at our website, ReviveOurHearts.com.

So let me ask you a question: Have you ever felt God tugging on your heart when it comes to the subject of adoption? Today’s program is for anyone who’s considered adoption but still has some questions. Pour yourself some coffee or tea, call a friend who might be interested. Here’s our host Nancy talking with adoptive parents Randall and Rachel Payleitner.

Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth: Randall and Rachel, I’m so thankful for you being here to share your story with us. It’s got many chapters and pieces and parts and is still being written.

We were just sitting here talking in-between sessions about the fact that we have not very often spoken about adoption on Revive Our Hearts. We need to do it more. I know that some who have been listening to your story may be thinking about it, may have some questions. You’ve had those questions. Now you’re getting other people probably asking you those questions. And we said we’d just like to take a few extra minutes here to talk about that process.

What’s one of the most common questions you get asked by somebody who is thinking about the possibility of adopting?

Rachel: “How do you afford it?”

Randall Payleitner: Yes. The biggest fear that people have—I think there are maybe some unspoken fears that people have that maybe they don’t ever bring up—but one main question is money. It costs a lot of money.

Nancy: Why does it cost so much?

Randall: There’s lots of reasons, but there’s a lot of travel involved. There’s care involved. So you end up often covering the care that the child has already received. There’s lots of paperwork in the interest of protecting the child, to make sure that they’re adoptable, and then the rest to follow up properly with all of the authorities, which is wonderful. It’s important. Every single thing and all the steps, all the time, it is intended to be put in place to make sure that the children are safe and cared for and loved, not only in their future families but also just where they are in the moment, too.

Nancy: So it’s money well spent.

Randall: It is. It really is. And we didn’t necessarily know that ahead of time. But it does cost a lot of money, and I would say that that’s real. That’s true.

Nancy: Throw out a range. If you were doing an international adoption, what might somebody expect it’s going to cost?

Randall: It depends on the agency and your country, but it’s usually tens of thousands of dollars.

Nancy: So most people aren’t sitting around with tens of thousands of dollars.

Randall: And neither were we. I assure you that wasn’t our case either, but what it allowed for us to do—yet again—is to allow for us to trust God to write our story. And that involved trusting with our finances. It involved trusting Him to be able to trust other people, to say, “Hey, here’s some needs that we have.” And whether it was, literally, money that we needed for plane tickets or whether it was money we needed help, just like any new parent might need, for assorted things.

And so what I would say is, just like anything, if this is a calling that God is placing on your life to be parents, to pursue adoption, money is a small thing. It’s a real thing. It’s an important thing.

Nancy: But it’s a small thing for God.

Randall: It is a small thing for God. And we trust Him to write our story.

Nancy: Can you think of a way that you specifically saw Him provide in one of your adoption journeys, provide financially, that was in a way that you might not have expected?

Rachel: With our first adoption, of Judah, I was still working full time, so we had a dual income. That allowed us to feel a little more free with that adoption.

The second adoption, I was only working part time, and we were a little more hesitant. “How are we going to be able to afford this?” But we had friends who were extremely gracious and came to us and said, “How can we help? Is there a place we can give financially to help you bring home your next child?”

Randall: That’s right. It’s hard to ask.

Rachel: It is hard to ask.

Randall: Even if you need to ask, you know it’s hard.

Nancy: Rachel, I know there may be some who haven’t been down this road. They’re thinking about it. They’re open to it. But they’re wondering: How do I know that I’ll really be able to love this child as if it were my own?

Rachel: I do actually get that question pretty often.

Nancy: Did you ever have that question in your own mind?

Rachel: Yes. Most definitely. It was something that I worried about. I had been told by other adoptive families that, “God does an amazing thing in our hearts when He places a child in our families.”

I’m not sure that I totally trusted that. I was nervous that we would bring these kids home, and that it would be hard, and I wouldn’t be able to love them and mama-bear them in a way that a mom would with biological children.

That is just not the case. My heart races for these boys at any injustice. It swells with affection at the thought of them.

Nancy: And it did from the beginning.

Rachel: From the very beginning.

Nancy: That has to be something God puts in a parent’s heart.

Rachel: It’s definitely a God thing. It cannot be explained another way because it doesn’t make sense.

Randall: Yes.

Nancy: Do you have other friends who have adopted since you have? I assume people have come out of the woodwork now, people that you maybe didn’t realize have been on that journey.

Randall: Yes. That’s exactly how it happens, and some we did know, but mostly people that we didn’t know. It’s just like anything. You go into a new world, and you think, I’m the only one here. And then you turn on the lights, and it’s like, “Oh, there’s actually this huge party that’s been happening this whole time, and I didn’t know about it.”

And that’s what’s been the case here. Some of our best friends in the world have either adopted, or are adopting, or are in the foster-care process or in the domestic-adoption process. All this world of caring for children is there, and there’s a huge world of it, in the Church, God’s Church, God’s family, Christ’s Bride, is right at the front to help.

Nancy: That’s how the family of God is being built. Right? It’s growing through adoption because none of us are natural born.

Randall: That’s it. Every one of us.

Nancy: I know a lot of churches are becoming more adoption minded. What are some ways that churches . . . Certainly not everybody in the church is going to be able to adopt themselves. But what are some ways that you’ve experienced the people of God coming around you to be helpful? We talked about financial support, but what are some other ways that those of us who aren’t adoptive parents can come around and encourage and bless families that are dealing with adoption?

Rachel: I think asking, “How can I help? What do you need?” Don’t be afraid to ask the questions because there may be needs that we have that we haven’t thought to ask.

Randall: Yes. I’d say the local church, how we’ve seen it be most helpful, is connecting families to each other. Because so often, and this is true for anything . . . It may be a special needs biological child. It may be school choice: private school, home school, public school—whatever it may be. If the local church leaders—be it pastors or even elders, small-group leaders, anybody who’s in leadership in the local church—I would encourage them to be aware of what’s going on in the families in your church. Then make sure they know each other, because so often they don’t.

So often families—again, adoption is one major area, but there are others . . . Whether it’s creating a formal ministry or small group or even, frankly, most helpfully, is just making sure they know each other.

We were introduced to some of our best friends at our church and in life because our pastor’s wife said, “You guys need to know each other.” And she said, “Here you go.” Then she left, and we became good pals. That was just her seeing: You guys have something in common, and you don’t know each other, and you should.

That, to me, is the number one thing. And from that may come a whole ministry or a small group or a good quality friendship or just a support system.

Nancy: And, in your case, you’re not just adoptive parents, but you have a child with special needs, which puts additional strain and pressure and challenges on your family.

Rachel: Yes.

Nancy: What are some ways that people practically have been able to help encourage you? I know you’ve got your hands full and a lot of doctor appointments. I’ve been at Moody at times, Randall, when you’ve had to pull out for surgery for a child.

Randall: Yes.

Nancy: What are some ways people have been able to bless you with a child with physical needs?

Rachel: We have had many people praying for us, for Judah, Gideon’s older brother, who comes along to doctor appointments and supports his brother through prayer and just helping him and helping us slow down for the sake of his brother.

Randall: We’ve got wonderful friends right now who are watching our two sons so we can be right here. That is a testament to friendship and care in the Body of Christ.

Rachel: Yes. Taking care of the boys so we can have time just the two of us. Taking care of one of the boys so we can have time with just one of them or take them to appointments is so helpful.

Randall: Yes.

Rachel: Even just asking questions, “How are you doing? How are things going?”

I feel like a lot of times, even as the Body of Christ, we’re so quick to try and make sure everybody is cheerful and good and everybody is in a good place, but some days are really hard. Just to have somebody being willing to approach you and say, “How’s it going? How’s he doing? Wow! What progress he’s made.” So just being willing to get in and engage.

Nancy: So you know you’re not in this alone.

Rachel: That’s right.

Nancy: It seems to me that another thing people might wonder is: A lot of children who are being adopted are coming out of difficult backgrounds—maybe abuse or there are huge cultural differences or they’ve been neglected—and especially those in the case who may not be newborns. Yours was sixteen months when you got Judah, so there’s background already there.

I think for some people there may be this fear of: “What baggage might this child be bringing with him or her into our home that I just may not be able to deal with?”

It’s more complicated in a way than—all things being equal—than bringing home a newborn who is your flesh and blood. So that can be a scary thing for some people considering adoption.

Randall: Yes. I would say it is scary, and it was scary for us, or at least unknown. We were kind of thinking, Man. Do I have what it takes? And I think any mom or dad, or potential mom or dad, or even you might just be a mentor or a pastor or a small group leader or a junior high youth leader, and realize, “Do I have what it takes? Oh no! I’m influencing this child.”

And the reality is, God provides for that. God gives you life experience to help you meet that child where they’re at. And in the specific case of adoption, it was required of us—and we were glad we received it—all kinds of training.

So part of that two-year process for us wasn’t just filling out some forms and waiting. It was a lot of training. It was online videos and training, continuing education credits, and in-person seminars, question and answer sessions with adoptive parents who had a wide range of experience.

Larger group gatherings . . . We went to one. There are wonderful ministries that help walk through this—some Christian based, some different types of expertise based in brain, science, and all kinds of stuff to help understand what goes on in the hearts and brains and lives of children who do come from difficult places. The resources are out there.

So that is a real fear. We can’t ignore it. We can’t pretend like it’s not there. In fact, if you’re not having that fear, you should think about it. It’s a real thing, and the adoption agencies will help you there. And all you need to do is Google it or go to your church to help you figure out what organizations are out there to help train you in what might come as it relates to caring for your child from a difficult spot.

Nancy: We hear about attachment disorder. Is that a frequent thing that the child has a difficult time bonding with the parents? I actually have heard this from an adoptive mom. She and her husband adopted their child at birth. Their adoptive child looks very much like their biological children, and yet this particular child, from birth, struggled to bond. That can be a fearful thing for parents. Is that common? And how do you think about that with a child?

Rachel: I think it is common.

Randall: Yes, it is.

Rachel: In fact, all of the training we went through prepared us that it was inevitable.

Randall: “Plan on it.”

Rachel: Yes, plan on it. Count on it. And know what strategies to put in place. So, as Randall said, the resources are out there, but you do have to be very intentional and make the attachment, the bond, between the parents—at least one of the parents—and the adoptive child a high priority until that bond is secure.

Randall: Yes.

Rachel: So, as we said in our previous interviews, our bonding with Judah was very easy—for him to attach to us and us to him. It was much more difficult with Gideon. He was ours, in our hearts.

Randall: Yes. No question about it.

Rachel: Yes. No question about it, but he was not lovely for a long time, and we both struggled. And he most certainly struggled to attach to us. But following the strategies that we were given, we put his care as a priority over our sleep—sometimes it felt like, our sanity—and he’s come through the hardest part of that.

Randall: That’s right. It’s a lifelong journey, but we’ve come through it in stages, and even to the point where we have to build strategies. It’s a matter of prayer. It’s a matter of perseverance. It’s a matter of understanding what’s going on. We trust God, for sure. We also recognize there’s things going on in the brain, there’s things going on chemically, and there’s things going on experientially that we don’t understand—neither one of us are scientists.

Rachel: Nor are we adoptive children.

Randall: Yes—nor are we adoptive children. Yet it’s also interesting to recognize that those attachment bonds aren’t always secure even if you weren’t adoptive. That’s a real thing. That could be a whole other discussion—with other experts, hopefully. We wouldn’t be able to lead that one.

But I’d say it is a matter of recognizing how important it is to be intentional about it and then build strategies together just knowing that that little boy knows: “We’re here. We love you. You’re safe.” And falling asleep on the floor of his room when he’s in his crib, and your hand is just touching his foot. He doesn’t like you to give him a hug, but I’m here. My hand’s on his foot—for hours. That’s what you’ve got to do.

Nancy: What a picture that is of God with us, and we’re pulling away and not wanting to attach, but He’s not going to let go. He’s there.

Rachel: Wherever you go.

Randall: And you’re safe. I love you.

Nancy: Yes.

That child is created by God. There’s no scientist who fully knows how that child’s brain works—or our brains, for that matter. But God made that child from the womb and understands that child’s needs and bents. So God knows how to parent that child through the parents into whose home He’s placed that child—biological or adoptive.

Randall: That’s right. We believe that with all our hearts.

Nancy: So isn’t that another place of just dependence upon the wisdom and grace of God?

Rachel: Absolutely.

Randall: That’s right. And that’s what we mean when we say we wouldn’t want it any other way. That’s the way God wanted it. And that’s the way we experienced it. And we trust Him with it.

Nancy: Are there some people who might be considering adoption, wanting to adopt, but maybe for the wrong reasons? Would you have anything you’d like to say about that? Are there some reasons not to pursue adoption?

Randall: Yes. As with any good thing, there are ways to do it poorly or maybe ways to do it in wrong timing. I’d say, not necessarily sure of specific reasons why maybe somebody shouldn’t adopt, but, at the same time, it’s a real life challenge, and it’s a real life. This is real, and you’re dealing with real children who have needs.

So make sure your eyes are open to the difficulty, but also to the extreme joy, and recognize that they are the ones who it needs to be about. It’s not about us. It can’t be about us or about what we can do. It has to be about them and what God can do.

Nancy: Well, I can imagine if somebody is wanting to get married for the wrong reasons, thinking, This is going to make me happy. It’s going to meet my needs, make me complete. If you marry out of your own neediness, you’re asking for problems.

Randall: That’s right.

Nancy: And if you have children, adoptive or biological, out of your own sense of neediness, you’re going to compound the challenges, likely.

Randall: That’s right.

Nancy: Somebody is listening, and they’re thinking, Maybe God might have this for us. Maybe somebody who hasn’t been able to have children, or maybe does have children already. What would be some first steps to take or some first things to consider—a next step in the process?

Rachel: I would say, if you know an adoptive family, or there is potentially somebody at your church who has adopted that you could be put in contact with . . . That was the first thing we did. We met with an adoptive family.

I think, from the outside looking in to an adoptive family, you kind of have an idea what that’s like, which is probably untrue in many aspects. I suppose it’s like looking into anybody else’s family from the outside, whether adoptive or not.

Then just ask questions and feel out what it’s like to walk through that journey. Then start looking at adoption agencies.

Nancy: Before you do, how important is it . . . (And I think I know the answer, but I want to hear your take.)

Randall: I know what you’re going to ask.

Nancy: . . . to make sure you’re both on the same page?

Randall: That’s critical. I would say that you don’t have to be on exactly the same page to start asking questions because sometimes, as with many things, one or the other of the spouses might be a little ahead of the other. That’s not the worst thing, because sometimes God places different things on our hearts at different times.

Before you proceed, before you start filling out forms, before you start—even before you go to an introductory session with an agency or even before you go meet with a couple—make sure you are together in the openness of your hearts. It is a long process. We don’t know anybody who’s adopted who was ready to go before they took a step. That’s not going to happen. But you’re open; God is working. “Is this maybe something we should do? Let’s take one step toward that door.” And you need to take that step together, holding hands.

Nancy: I’m sure I’ve met people who—I think more often, the mother, the woman, the wife—is wanting to adopt, and her husband’s not there yet, if ever. And this is another place where you can trust God to write your story. If this is what God wants for your family, then it’s something He can put on your mate’s heart as you take some of those initial steps.

Rachel: Yes.

Randall: And it might take a lot of prayer. It might take months or years.

Nancy: But you don’t want to drag your mate into this.

Randall: That will not go well for you or for anybody or for the children.

Nancy: So, you’re on the same page. This is something God’s been putting on your heart. What are some of the questions to ask or some of the ways to approach finding an agency to work with in the process?

Rachel: You will definitely want to choose an agency that aligns with your views. We chose an agency that is a Christian-based organization. They prayed for us and with us every time we met. They prayed about our child and who that would be. The person whose job it is to place families with children, the whole thing is centered on prayer. That was extremely important to us.

Randall: That’s right. Having that connection with your social worker—in addition to all that which, I agree with you, Rachel, that’s number one—you want to make sure they’re experts at what they do. There’s lots of things going on, so you’ll want, as best you can, to speak with other adoptive families you trust and how their experiences worked. They’ll have opinions, as well they should—as we do, too. And then speak with your church, speak with your pastors, and at least through secondary recommendations, you can get to the right spot.

It’s also different state by state, country by country, domestic versus international. So there’s no way to just make a blanket recommendation because if you live in State A versus State B, this organization might not be in your state.

Rachel: Yes. Being international, some adoption agencies will work in certain countries, and others will not. So if you have a strong desire to adopt a child from a specific country, that may limit the number of choices that you have.

Randall: It’s almost always going to start with the Internet as far as Googling stuff, but then check what you find against real life people that you know and trust. That’s the reality. It’s a great question. Be on the same page with your spouse, and then walk through each door together and find other fellow travelers who are just a little bit ahead of you.

Nancy: And all things by prayer. Right?

Rachel: Right.

Randall: Every day.

Nancy: Knowing that God is overseeing this. He’s the ultimate family planner. He knows what’s best for you and what will most glorify Him. And isn’t that the whole purpose of family anyway, of marriage and children, that we glorify God together? And the purpose for having children? That we might have a next generation to glorify God to tell His wonderful deeds to the next generation.

So, ultimately, this is not about our happiness, though family can bring great joy as well as sorrows And ultimately, it’s not even about caring for the children—as important as that is and good as that is. Jesus loves the children, so ought we. But even the whole thing of children and having children, bearing children, adopting children, is ultimately for the glory to go to God, for the fame of His name to spread in the world.

So if we can get that global picture of what this about and what this is for, then whatever your family configuration, whatever your season of life, you’re going to say, “If God can be glorified in this, then that’s what I want.”

I mean, how often does God write a story, when it comes to having children, that is not what we would have written? I’m sitting here thinking of Mary of Nazareth, who, as a young teenage girl, this was not her script that she would have a child. Nor was it Joseph’s script that he would become the adoptive father of this Child, but it was God’s script. God was bringing a Savior to the world. And what’s the goal of our families? It’s to introduce more people to the Savior who has come to the world.

Rachel: That’s right.

Randall: That’s it. That’s our goal with being here.

When you asked, “Hey, would you mind sharing your story with your world of listeners?” I spoke with Rachel, and we said, “Well, if God’s name can be made great, then we’re in.”

Nancy: Thank you. Thank you for sharing your hearts. Thank you for not only living this journey, that you’re still in, but for being willing to share it with us. I just pray that God’s going to use you and Judah and Gideon, this family that God’s put together—who knows if that’s all the children God has for you. That’s something He knows, and you will know in time. But those children He has given you will be for the fame of His name, for the display of His glory. We trust Him with you for that.

Randall: Amen. Thanks, Nancy.

Dannah: If you’d like to review the transcript of this program, you can do that on the Revive Our Hearts app or at our website. We’ve been listening to a practical and inspiring conversation between Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth and Rachel and Randall Payleitner.

It’s so true that God writes each of our scripts in amazing ways, and our job is—just like Mary and Joseph did—to say “yes” to our sovereign Script Writer.

Nancy and her husband Robert wrote a book that we’d love to get into your hands. Its title is, You Can Trust God to Write Your Story: Embracing the Mysteries of Providence. We can’t always understand what He’s up to, but we can know that God knows what’s best.

This book is your gift when you support the ministry of Revive Our Hearts with a gift of any amount. To donate, just head on over to ReviveOurHearts.com, or call us at 1–800–569–5959.

Nancy: Thanks, Dannah. And before we’re done here, I want to take a moment to ask you to please be praying about a case that’s going to be going before the Supreme Court of the United States next week.

Experts tell us that the upcoming ruling on whether or not to uphold a Louisiana law has the potential to overturn some landmark abortion rulings, potentially, even including the tragic 1973 Roe v. Wade decision. I want to appeal to you to pray that the Lord would intervene in this case and in the Supreme Court justices who will be hearing it on March 4. Ask the Lord to show mercy to our country.

Since 1973, well over sixty million babies have been killed in the United States, each of them made in His image. Pray that our nation would wake up to the horror we’ve condoned for so long. Pray that abortion-on-demand would no longer be the law of the land.

And pray that God would show us, as His people, how to love, not only those precious babies, but also those moms who may feel they have no alternative.

In addition to praying, I want to encourage you to go to ReviveOurHearts.com, and look for a link where you can sign a petition that will be presented to the Supreme Court. This petition is an appeal to the court to overturn Roe v. Wade and other abortion-related decisions. This is one practical way that we can speak up for those who cannot speak up for themselves.

And let me say that if you’ve had an abortion in your past, I realize that my mentioning it right now may be painful for you. If that’s true of you, I want to remind you, and each of us, that no sin we could ever commit is beyond the reach of God’s grace. Jesus died on the cross for sinners, and His forgiveness and healing are available for you.

Thank you for praying for our nation and for our Supreme Court as they consider this crucial case. And, once again, I hope you’ll go to ReviveOurHearts.com and look for that link for the petition that you can sign to go to the Supreme Court.

Next week we’re going to be taking a closer look at what it means to have an attitude of gratitude. I hope you’ll join us for that. I’m Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth, inviting you back for Revive Our Hearts.

Revive Our Hearts with Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth reminds you that every believer is adopted. The program is an outreach of Life Action Ministries.

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About the Speaker

Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth

Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth

Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth has touched the lives of millions of women through Revive Our Hearts and the True Woman movement, calling them to heart revival and biblical womanhood. Her love …

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