Meet Finley and Meagan Smith. Meagan lives in Birmingham with her husband, Josh, and daughter, Finley. They brought Finley home from India in 2017. Meagan also serves as a China social worker at Lifeline and has been apart of the Lifeline team since 2013. We sat down with Meagan to ask her some questions about her adoption experience.
Question 1: How did God lead your family to adopt from India?
“We knew for a long time that we wanted to start our family through adoption, and it became clear a few years into our marriage that God was calling us to adopt from India.
As we began learning more about the reality of lack of gospel access in India, we were shocked that so many people could live their entire lives without ever hearing of who Jesus is and the good news of the gospel. This knowledge started us on a journey of going to India for half a year to share the life-changing story of God’s love.
While we lived in India, our passion only grew for adopting from this wonderful country. We loved the people, the culture, and the languages. Everything about India was an adventure and we loved it even in the midst of it being really difficult. India has so much to offer, but anyone who goes there is forever marked by the brokenness that they experience first hand. You see poverty, vulnerability, and spiritual darkness in a unique way, and it is hard to leave without feeling stirring in your spirit to do more… To continue reaching out with the love and good news of Christ.
After our time in India, we came back with full confidence that we would be adopting from India in the future. We had a plan of when we would start the application process, and the plan made sense. It made sense financially and also was convenient for our lifestyle. We went along with our plan for a few months after arriving home until God made it clear that we were supposed to begin the process. I was hesitant because it didn’t make sense financially and honestly wasn’t what I wanted. I wanted to wait longer, but God made it clear that He was calling us to die to our preferences and simply trust Him. Trust that He is a good God. Trust that He is a God that knows exactly what we need. So we did.
We began the process and before I knew it we were getting ready to travel back to the city we lived in to bring our daughter home. Adding Finley to our family has been the most sanctifying process and I wouldn’t trade it for anything.”
Question 2: What has the international adoption process taught you about yourself and your spouse?
“For me, most of what I learned was about myself, and that came post adoption. God showed me through our post adoption experience with Finley that I was worshipping a lot of hidden idols. Idols that could remain quiet because they weren’t on the surface and no one really pushed me in a way where I had to look at my idols head on and repent and turn from them. But God loved me too much to let those idols quietly hide, so He brought Finley into my life.
I would find myself angry with different situations or circumstances and wasn’t sure why. I hadn’t expected that pre-adoption, but here I was with this toddler, struggling from time to time with frustration. It took God leaving me in my anger for a few months before He revealed to me that what was making me angry was not Finley’s behavior or lack of sleep, but the fact that she wasn’t willing to bow down to my idols with me.
I was worshipping comfort, and when Finley would scream for hours at night, or I would sleep on her floor to make her feel safe and secure, I wasn’t comfortable, and I wanted that. I wanted to worship my idol of comfort like I always had, but thank God Finley didn’t allow me to do that. It took me months to see that when I am triggered by something Finley does or doesn’t do, that isn’t about her at all. Yes, the behavior needs to be addressed in a loving and connecting way, and you need to look for the need behind the behavior, but the issue is my heart and who or what I am worshipping.
So I would encourage everyone pre or post adoption to really evaluate that. When you are waiting for something or have more paperwork to do or you get home with your child and they act out and it triggers a response in you that you feel confident isn’t from Christ, really dive into that. The enemy would love nothing more than for us just move past it and dismiss it so that he can keep us chained to our idol worship, but God offers freedom and wants all of our hearts. Don’t adopt just to add a child to your family, adopt to be more like Christ.”
Question 3: What has been your most unexpected post-adoption challenge?
“I tell families all the time that attachment is a two way street. The adoption community talks about attachment all the time, but seems to shy away from discussing the reality of parents having to attach to their child. I think because it is not talked about often, it can make people feel isolated or like it’s not normal for it to take months or longer to attach to your newly adopted child, when in reality it’s completely normal.
It takes at least 3-6 months to develop secure attachment. I could talk about that all day, but for some reason didn’t expect it for myself. I assumed it would come instantly and naturally and it didn’t. We had a lot of issues with sleep for the first 7 months home, and it took a toll on me. Having to pursue your child when you are exhausted and worn down is hard.
But it’s what Christ does for all of us. He loves us in all things. He meets us in the hard parts of our lives and still seeks us. So even when the feelings didn’t come, and I felt like I had to fake some of my own emotions waiting for God to bring them, I would try to remind myself of the gospel. The good news that Jesus sought me out against all odds. So be prepared to not feel attached instantly or to feel attached and then struggle when things get really hard. It’s normal and you have to give yourself grace. Your Heavenly Father sure does.”
For more information regarding our India adoption program, click here. If you have any questions or would like more information regarding this program, please don’t hesitate to reach out to Meredith Campbell or Morgan Terch. Special thanks to Mandy Busby for the beautiful pictures, and to Meagan Smith for chatting with us.