By Shannon Keating
It was the summer of 1990, and David and I had been dating for over a year. We were driving somewhere in his little red Honda Civic and I said, “So, tell me something about you that I don’t know yet.” He said, “Hmmmmm. Well, I was going to say that I’m adopted, but you already knew that.”
“No, I didn’t!” I squealed. “That is so cool!”
I had already spent lots of time with his family by this point, and no one had ever mentioned it. That’s how the Keating family is! David is sandwiched between two sisters who both came to the Keating’s through birth. They were always, and still are, a very close-knit family–and no one thought to mention the adoption because it was simply the way David had become a Keating. David’s parents had struggled to conceive after their first child, and had been assured through prayer that God would give them another child—and He did! And then, at the ages of thirty-nine and forty, he enabled them to give birth again, bringing along David’s younger sister less than two years later. Coincidentally, David and his sister look very much alike. Most people assumed they were twins! David’s mom did share with me that while David’s being adopted was never a secret, she tried to always make sure the word “adopted” was sandwiched in a string of positive adjectives like “wonderful,” “happy,” “lovely.” From the very beginning, she wanted him to associate adoption with something wonderful!
We were married about a year after that conversation in the car and several years later began our own family. While adoption was not on our minds, we were growing in love for children and for the possibility of a larger family. The Lord blessed us with four children in little stair steps and the years flew by–births, nursing, diapers, pre-school, beginning homeschool, changing jobs, and growing in faith as we trusted God more with every aspect of our lives. We began trusting Him more and more with everything—including career, finances, missions, “safety” and parenting.
When we first came to Taylors FBC about four years ago, the whole church was reading David Platt’s book, Radical. There was much in that book to convict the heart, but one anecdote jumped out at us. Platt shares that one Sunday morning the church was made aware of the 150 children in their own town waiting for adoption. THAT VERY DAY, 160 families walked the aisle and volunteered to bring these precious ones into their families! This story began a shift in our thinking, away from “why should we adopt?” towards “why not us?”
The next step in our journey was getting involved with Mission 1:27. We were adjusting to a new church, a new job, and a new stage of life as our oldest entered high school. We didn’t feel the time was “right” to add to our family at that point, but we had a heart to help orphans where we could. We went as a family to a Jamaican orphanage where we taught them “The Story” curriculum, the same materials we had helped teach the kids here at Taylors and led several of them to the Lord! We saw our children bond with those children, and our hearts were opened even more to the possibility that God might add to our family through adoption.
Through Mission 1:27, we became aware of the great worldwide need to care for orphans, and even the overwhelming need here in our own state. We learned that there are over 100 million orphans worldwide and 6,000-7,000 here in South Carolina, including about 1,500 who are currently legally available to adopt. We learned from our good friends Jennie and Frank Nation that though we may not feel rich, in reality we are in the “top 1%” of the world and that we could trust God to provide financially as we trusted Him to adopt. Then, we became a wrap-around family to the wonderful Madden family and started walking with them through their adoption process. We saw them grow closer to God and as a family as they trusted Him to navigate the difficult waters of “The Adoption Process” no matter where it leads.
Since we teach children on Sunday mornings, we have made the Mission 1:27 our “Life Group.” We have been blessed and challenged to be part of this community where we are seeing families trust everything to God — even their hearts, as they break over the needs of these precious ones.
Last summer, David and I both felt (individually) the Lord telling us “now is the time.” We prayed about “when?” and “how?” we might adopt and then shared with our children. Our son, who has asked for a brother every birthday and Christmas since I can remember, immediately shouted out, “yes!” His sisters had more questions, but after a few weeks of their own prayer time with God, they, too, felt overwhelmingly that adoption was a call on their hearts. One of our daughters said the turning point for her was when we gave our son/brother-to-be a “placeholder” name and started thinking of him as the actual person that he is and not just the idea of “adoption” in the abstract. We have been praying for the little boy who is out there and waiting for a family, just as we are waiting for him to join us. During the holidays, especially, we thought of him and wondered where he was and longed to share all our special traditions with him.
As is the case with many potentially adoptive families, we were “shaking in our boots” to share our decision with grandparents, aunts, and uncles, wondering how they would respond, but they have all been very supportive and encouraging. Several of them have very real concerns, but have shared them in a wise and loving way. In fact, I was so nervous our son said, “give me the phone, and I’ll tell them!” He explained that “all six of us had decided” and, as is often the case, the faith of our children has strengthened us on this journey. One night, after talking to all the relatives, we were tucking in our son and I said, “I’m really thankful your grandparents were so supportive of our decision.” He said, “Yeah, that’s nice that they are, but we would have done it whether they were or not, because it is what God has called us to do!” Amen!
We have decided, given the ages of our children (8-16), that we are going to pursue adoption of a little boy between the ages of 4 and 7 from right here in South Carolina. We have already put in our first round of paperwork to DSS and we are looking forward to our first training session at the end of January. We hope by late summer to have our little son in our home!
One thing we have been meditating on lately is the human relationships that God uses to describe His love for us: marriage and adoption, which are the families we “choose,” not the ones we are born into. Jesus calls the church His bride, and He calls believers His children! Jesus is the only “natural born” son of God, but He loved us so much He was willing to share His inheritance with us. Although we didn’t deserve it, He chose us and adopted us and gave us His name and calls us sons and heirs—and He promises never to forsake us no matter what! This is the way I’ve seen the Keating family love David and the way we want to love the little guy God brings into our family.
People ask David sometimes about his birth parents. All we know is that they were college students and they wanted David to have a Christian family. When Mother’s Day and Father’s Day come around, we give a special prayer of thanks for them who brought him safely into this world and cared enough to place him in a family who loves and trusts God. He has never been curious about tracking them down because he knows who his parents are.
We know that our son’s life may be more complicated, since he will be a little older, but we trust that God’s love, working in us, is strong enough to overcome anything he may face. He will be ours and we will be his!