Editor’s Note: This is the first installment of our “Single and…” series where we will interview singles from all walks of life. It is our hope that you are encouraged by the stories of people who have a similar journey as you, who share the same dreams you have, who face the same hurdles you do, and who can remind you that you are not alone.
“If you are considering adopting as a single person, know that everyone will have an opinion one way or the other but the only one that matters is God’s.” –KB Thomas
If any single adult knows how opinionated people can be about adoption, it’s Keri Beth “KB” Thomas. Six months ago, she brought her nine-year old daughter Daizy home from Uganda, and they recently finalized Daizy’s adoption.
Keri Beth “KB” Thomas is an Auburn girl living in an LSU world. Born and raised in Alabama, KB is a graduate of New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary and is now serving in her ninth year as the student activities director at Louisiana College in Pineville, Louisiana. KB has been working in college ministry for over 15 years.
We asked KB if we could share some of her story as well as the joys and challenges of adopting when you’re single. Here’s what she had to say:
Tell us about your adoption journey. How did you connect with Daizy? How did you know she was the child you were supposed to adopt?
KB: In 2010 I was able to take my first of many life-changing trips to Uganda. I fell in love with all things Africa—the smells, the food, the culture but most importantly the people, and more specifically, the children. Until this point I had seen the sad commercials on television with the starving orphans in Africa with the large bellies and skeleton figures. It’s easy to dismiss the command to care for orphans and widows when you read James 1:27, and all you have to do is change the channel to make them go away. Everything changed when I knew their names, held their naked bottoms in my lap, walked hand in hand down dirt roads, and looked into their eyes. A lot changed in my life after that trip but swelling inside of me was this desire to adopt that was like a fire burning out of control.
I returned to Uganda several more times over the next two years. In 2011 the doors
opened to the children’s home that we helped start, Acres of Hope, and there were now 18 precious children living there. It was during that trip that I met Daizy for the first time. In 2012, I returned to Acres of Hope with a team of college students. God began stirring in my heart that it was time to start the adoption process. There was an unexplainable connection that Daizy and I had from 2011 that carried into the 2012 trip. I began asking about her background and what circumstances brought her to Acres of Hope and discovered that she was an orphan—by every definition of the word—and could be considered for adoption.
How important has your church community been to your adoption experience?
KB: This journey wouldn’t be possible without my church community. I have learned in a very tangible way that “it takes a village to raise a child.” My church family has helped with fundraising, hosted showers to fill Daizy’s closet, stocked my pantry before we returned home and so much more. They continue to help on a weekly basis when work is busy and I need someone to pick Daizy up from school. Several teachers have offered their help to tutor and get us caught up in school. My community has invested in Daizy just as much as I have; the long journey in Uganda was just as hard on them and the return home was equally as sweet.
How did you prepare financially for going from one person on one income to two people on one income?
KB: Part of the life change that came from my first trip to Uganda was a change in how I spent money. My eyes were opened to just how careless and selfish I am with my money. I’ve had to prioritize needs versus wants. As I changed my spending habits, I began moving money to savings at the beginning of the month and living on a budget instead of moving the “left over” to savings at the end of the month. Having the savings account there on months where expenses were more than I planned has been nice, especially at the start of the school year. To be honest, you can never fully prepare financially to add to your family, you have to make adjustments as you go. I have made changes to how I spend and save, and I certainly have disciplined myself financially, but part of the step of faith in adopting was trusting Jesus to provide financially.
What are some difficulties about adoption that surprised you?
KB: Honestly, the home study process was one of the most difficult things about adoption. To have to pour out your life to a complete stranger who will examine your finances, investigate your home, ask very personal questions about your past and all your relationships, and then determine if you are fit to be a parent is a very invasive process. After having three very lengthy home visits with a social worker where no questions were left unasked, and then having to complete hour upon hours of online courses, I found myself a little bitter towards people I saw in public who were able to have children biologically without one question being asked of them before they could leave the hospital with a child. I guess I should give myself a pat on the back that a social worker and the US government deemed me a suitable parent.
The other difficulty I was not expecting was how much I would miss my alone time. Parenthood will rock your world whether you bring home a newborn or a nine year old. If someone tells you that having a pet will prepare you for parenthood, you need to laugh in their face. Just as I have watched all of my newly-married friends go through the newlywed phase of marriage where life is glorious and then move into an awakening of “this is forever,” the same is true with parenthood and it’s not just with adopted children. The main difference as a single is adapting to this forever change with someone who needs you all the time so you don’t get the luxury of taking a time out. But hear me say, these are merely growing pains. The life I have with my daughter is well worth the hurdles we’ve had to jump to get to where we are today, and the hurdles we’ve still yet to get to will be worth it as well.
If someone is single and contemplating adopting a child in the future, what is the best advice you can give to that person?
KB: There is no greater joy I have experienced on this earth than becoming a mom. I’ve worked in college ministry for over a decade and watched “my kids” come and go. There is something amazing about investing in your own child and teaching them to love Jesus. With that being said, there are three things I would say to anyone who wanted to adopt as a single person.
First, children will not complete you. If you are struggling with contentment as a single person and you are lonely, understand that void can only be met in Jesus, not a child (or spouse for that matter). I say that only because I was guilty of that feeling and had to wrestle in the depths of me when my daughter didn’t meet the expectations she was never meant to fulfill.
The second piece of advice was spoken to me from another single mom of two adopted children. She warned me that single parenting is hard and sometimes lonely, but I had to always remember I made this choice. Granted, I know wholeheartedly God called me to the adoption of my daughter, but I made a choice to walk in obedience. Some moms are faced with single parenting because of divorce or other unforeseen circumstances where they had no choice. I was choosing to walk into this journey no matter the challenges that would come my way, and because of that, I could never take it out on my daughter or blame her even on the toughest days.
Last but not least, if you are considering adopting as a single person know that everyone will have an opinion one way or the other but the only one that matters is God’s. Adopting a child as a single person is non-conventional but how often do we see our God doing non-conventional things and using the people we least expect? Many well-meaning people have expressed their thoughts on how my daughter is not better off here in a home without a father. While I agree that Daizy would benefit greatly from having a father, I have a hard time believing she was better off in an orphanage. The beauty of being part of a faith community is that Daizy has many father figures in her life who are gladly filling in where our knitted-together family is lacking.
If the Lord leads you to adopt as a single person I would encourage you to follow with reckless abandon and watch how the Lord can and will use you in the life of a child as you live out James 1:27.
If you know someone who is single and considering adopting a child, will you email them this post?