I’m very excited to share a guest post from a man that I greatly respect. Being a dad has its challenges. Being a dad that adopts has additional issues to address. To be a dad that adopts a child from another country, let me just turn it over to Dr. Guenther. – Deacon
Fight, Love, Win – Brian N. Guenther
In November of 2009, my wife and I were preparing to lead a team from our church on a mission trip to Port-Au-Prince, Haiti. We had already put together a team of 22 people and had begun training and meeting to make sure that we were all as prepared as we could be. It was only a short couple of months later that the devastating earthquake of 2010 occurred. At that point, it was our immediate goal to continue the trip and offer as much aid and help that we could bring. Our team arrived in Port-Au-Prince in July 2010, just six months after the earthquake and years before the country’s full recovery. Our job was to work with the orphans and widows and supply aid to a specific orphanage. Little did I know that God had a different plan in mind for the Guenther family.
In 2010, we had a family of five. By then, we had been married for eleven years. Our oldest son was nine and our identical twin girls were five. Our family of five was happy and content with who we were and what God had been doing. We had no idea that a mission trip to Haiti would forever change our understanding of who we were and what we were called to do. What we quickly learned is that God wanted to expand our family by one six and half-year-old Haitian boy. We went to Haiti to work, but in fact, God wanted us there to better learn about the Gospel. What we really learned is that we all have been adopted in the family of Christ. John quoted the words of Christ writing, “I will not leave you as orphans, I will come for you.” The power of these words came into full understanding when we realized that upon our return home we were leaving 65 orphaned children behind. 65 souls who needed families, love, attention, education, and Jesus.
Having returned home, we began discussions about international adoption. A million questions and concerns flooded my head. How were we going to pay for it? How long will it take? Will our extended family accept our decision? Does that little boy want to be a part of our family? These and many other questions fueled the discussions that happened nearly every waking day and hour. The biggest question I struggled with was, will I be able to love and parent a child that is not my own? I recalled the days that each of my biological children were born. I remember my chest feeling a little deeper and my pride a little stronger when my oldest son was born. I remember fighting for my twins who were born too early and required constant medical attention. Would I have these same feelings of protection and love with our adopted son? I wanted my love and attention for him to be no different than what I offered my biological children.
Even with the questions in mind, we pursued our Haitian son. We poured our time, finances, and love into the hours of paperwork, interviews, and over-seas communications. With blood, sweat, and tears, we experienced good days and we experienced bad days. In the end, I realized that I had to fight just as hard for him, as I did for my twin girls. In the end, I realized that I had just as much pride and grown in strength as I did with my first son. In the end, God worked a miracle in my heart, and I loved him just as much as I loved my other children. When you and I are adopted into the family of Christ, there is an eternal understanding that we are “heirs to the Kingdom of God.” If in my relationship with Christ I am an heir to the Kingdom than there is little worry whether my adopted son could be an heir to my little kingdom here on Earth.
Our adoption process took over three years to fully be complete. It was over three years of visiting my son in Haiti and weeping when I had to leave him there. It was over three years of fighting every day to just to be able to bring him home. It was over three years of tough financial decisions and fundraising to make a way for his arrival. It was at the cost of relationships and career decisions. In the end, the cost emotionally, financially, relationally, and the growth spiritually created deeper room in my heart for my son. Our adopted son landed on US soil on December 31, 2013, as a now ten-year-old and it made for the most exciting and celebrated New Year that we have ever had.
Integrating our son into our family was not easy. There were daily challenges in parenting, discipline, and learning. Thankfully, not only were we able to learn more about our adoption as children into the family of God, we were taught more about His grace for us when we fail. Adoption is difficult whether it is domestic or international. Let’s be honest, being a dad has challenges of its own. It was when I got married that I learned how selfish of a person I was. It was when I became a dad that I realized I had no idea how selfish I really was. Learning and growing through the work and ministry of being dad brings us into a better understanding of who our Heavenly Father is, His grace, His compassion, and His everlasting love. May God bless the fathers who seek the Father.
- Brian N. Guenther