When a Single Rev Opts to Adopt

Post Author: Sarah Kinney Gaventa

For some young clergy women, the call to motherhood may not come as they expect. As children they may have dreamed of getting married and having kids, but as they grew older, circumstances did not line up with their original vision, and they never married. However, the call of motherhood is strong and some of these women have chosen to be foster parents and/or adoptive parents. Today, we bring you an interview with Joyce Borger, an editor at Faith Alive Christian Resources who made the choice to adopt as single mother.

When did you know you wanted to adopt? Was it an easy decision? Difficult?

I’ve always wanted to adopt, at least it was already in my mind when I was in high school. In my mind there were so many children already in the world in need of a family that I didn’t feel the need to have a child naturally. In the end that option [of pregnancy] was taken away from me as medical issues resulted in my needing a hysterectomy in my early thirties. The only question for me was when I would adopt, not if.

What was the process of adopting like? Did your being clergy affect the process in any way?

I always imagined that I would be married when I adopted. God, however, had not provided me with a spouse and I was not getting any younger, so I started the process of adoption believing it would take several years. The story of my daughter’s adoption is a miracle story because it happened in two weeks – which is unheard of. The adoption agencies where I live in Michigan either had a waiting list or would not take a single parent. Because I am a Canadian living in the US, I could not adopt internationally. Someone suggested I look at adoption agencies outside of my community.

Early one Sunday morning I could not sleep so I got up and “surfed” the net looking for adoption agencies. I ran across a site in California that listed a soon to be born baby girl who was not yet matched. Having nothing better to do I wrote an email indicating my interest believing that it was an old posting (who wouldn’t want a baby girl!). I sent that email about 3:30, went back to bed and didn’t give it another thought. I returned from church later that day to a message that said if I was truly interested in this child they needed to hear back from me that day.

That began a flurry of activity including all my background reports and home visits, tons of paperwork, and the wiring of lots of money, which climaxed with a phone call one Saturday afternoon that the birth mom was in labor. I caught the last plane of the day to California and at 3:30 in the morning exactly two weeks after I sent the initial email I was at the hospital, my daughter had been born 15 minutes earlier. A few hours later I was holding her. The next day we left the hospital and a few days after that we returned to Michigan. One year later we returned to California for a court hearing to finalize the adoption.

The finances involved with adoption are scary and huge but worth every penny. I had a lawyer in California who helped with all the legal paperwork, which was a huge blessing. My caseworker in Michigan was amazing. God’s hand was evident throughout.

The birth mom did do drugs during the pregnancy and did not receive prenatal care which also frightening. But studies show that while consuming alcohol during pregnancy had long-term effects on the child drug use doesn’t. My daughter was born with drugs in her system but did not exhibit any withdrawal symptom, which can be very nasty (again an answered prayer). Though she was small at birth she quickly grew and is on par with her peers in all aspects of development.

While every adoption story is miraculous, not many go as smoothly as mine did. You need to go in with an open mind and heart and lots of patience. Do your homework about the agency you choose and the country you adopt from and then follow God’s lead.

What were the reactions of your family? Your church?

I am blessed to live in a community where adoption is very common, including adoption by singles. I only received support from the get go, the church has been fabulous.

How has the reality of adoption been different from how you imagined?

Being a mother is more amazing and more terrifying then I could ever have imagined. I am so blessed by my daughter.

What has been the biggest joy with your adopted child?

I don’t know that my biggest joy is any different then a mother’s who has a child naturally – watching a child grow and discover God’s world is absolutely amazing. And who can resist those precious hugs and kisses reserved for mom?

How has adopting affected your understanding of God? Or for that matter, how did your understanding of God affect your decision to adopt?

I believe our true identity is found in baptism. In baptism we are named as God’s children and are unified with Christ and each other. Family has more to do with spiritual and emotional connections than blood lines. Believing that makes it easy to expand one’s concept of family to include all kinds of adopted uncles, aunts, cousins, and grand parents.

What has really blown me away has been the deep love I feel for my daughter that sometimes borders on painful. (I hope that makes sense). That self-sacrificial love that allows you to get up for that 3 a.m. feeding, or to clean up a mess of huge proportions. And then to think that my love for my daughter pales in comparison to God’s love – it’s mind boggling.


3 replies
  1. maria
    maria says:

    Thank you so much for this!
    I have a daughter (born by me), Sofia, and can relate to everything you write about the love for a child, but I am also in the process of adopting Sofia’s sibling. Blood ties are not, and have never, been important for me, coming from a family of divorcee’s and re-married’s, and I am convinced my adopted child and my biological child will be true siblings, and just as loved by both me and my husband (and our families).
    Wonderful interview, and blessings on your future life together!

  2. fringegirl
    fringegirl says:

    i loved reading your story! i’m a single clergywoman who tried to adopt for many years (unsuccessfully). i also tried foster parenting. my call to be a mom was so strong i did artificial insemination at age 40 and now have a beautiful 6 month old. it’s not easy being a single mom, but it is the most amazing, wonderful blessing of my life! i thank God everyday…


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