Above, the Ronny Young family
November 2017 – In 2015, empty nesters Ronny and Tami Young decided to read together a book titled You and Me Forever: Marriage in Light of Eternity by Francis and Lisa Chan. The book stirred within them a passion to answer the question of how they could best further the kingdom of God at this point in their lives.
Both in their early 50s and parents of adult children, Ronny is a beloved doctor of obstetrics and gynecology, and Tami is a former kindergarten teacher who is very active in her church and community. After being convicted and challenged by the book, they covenanted to pray: “God just show us what it is, how you want to use us in these next years of our life,” Tami told AFA Journal.
After prayerfully considering a number of ways in which God might use them, God answered their prayers by opening one door after another that clearly led the Mississippi couple to adopt two elementary age boys from Taiwan.
“The world tells us at this point in our lives that we’re supposed to go travel, enjoy life, spend money on ourselves,” Ronny told AFAJ. “But [as believers] that is not what we’re supposed to do. … We often call ourselves to comfortable Christianity, but Scripture doesn’t talk about that. …There is a greater purpose in life.”
For the Youngs, faith is about living out the gospel of Jesus Christ daily by being not only hearers of the Word but doers of the Word (James 1:22). During this season of life, they are choosing to be doers of James 1:27: “Religion that is pure and undefiled before God the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world.”
“Why would we not want to give a child who has no hope a chance to have a future and a hope? We have the ability. We have a family. We have a home. We have resources,” Tami said. “And we do it for the glory of the Lord because life is not about us.”
Adoption is refining
After a 19-month adoption process and now eight months into being the parents of Miles, 12, and Miller, 8, the Youngs are seeing more and more that life has a greater purpose than self, and with the beauty of adoption come the hard, ugly times, too, and the sacrifices.
Ronny and Tami miss their quiet times together as a couple and their uninterrupted personal time in the Word. But it is imperative to carve out time for both, and they do. It just takes a more concentrated effort these days (and an extra cup of coffee).
“When you bring children who have experienced childhood trauma into your home, it’s going to get hard, …” Tami admitted. Helping their new sons cope and be comfortable and stable in a loving environment that is so unfamiliar to them can be daunting and exhausting on many days. Parental pride must cease to exist and humility must reign as the close-knit former family of four continues to learn and grow as a family of six.
Kara, the Youngs’ 23-year-old daughter, said, “Our family relationship and dynamic is different [now], and I won’t hide that I went through an intense season of grieving what I lost: the full attention of my parents, their free schedule, a quiet home to come to on the weekends, and calm conversations over family dinners.”
A bi-vocational worship leader, Kara continued: “[But] the Lord has used this adoption in my life to break me of the comfort of a stable and predictable family and taught me to walk in faith with open arms.”
“The [adoption] process has been painful but transformative,” her brother Kyle, a 26-year-old seminary student, said.
He too struggled with all the changes that the addition of two brothers brought to their family of four, and it affected him on a soul level.
“[T]he adoption made me realize how much of an idol I had made of my family,” he admitted. “[M]y
idea of a ‘perfect little family’ was flipped on its head. However, God has also given me the grace to see this brokenness as a gift. Because through this process, I have seen a deeper love fleshed out. The adoption has thus helped me better understand the gospel … because adoption is the gospel.
Adoption is one form of evangelism
“Just like my parents chose to adopt Miles and Miller, so God chose us – yet before the foundation of the world,” Kyle said. “Just like my parents must make sacrifices to love my adopted brothers, so God loved us sacrificially – to the point of sending his own Son to die for us.”
“Our prayer all along the way has been for others to see the gospel through this adoption,” Kara added.
Ronny considers the open doors that his family now has to share their faith through the adoption of Miles and Miller to be one of the greatest blessings.
“People are hearing the gospel with our lives,” he said.
And for the Youngs, they are applying the gospel to their lives in a whole new way.
While Ronny and Tami are advocates of adoption, even more so they are advocates of encouraging adults their age to consider ways to use this season of life to further the kingdom of God.
“There are a lot of things you can do to further the kingdom of God by loving other people who don’t have the resources you have,” Ronny said. “I would encourage you to look at God’s ways, not the American way, of doing things; try to be unstained from the world, to be in the world but not of the world, and to use what God has given you to enrich other people’s lives rather than your own.”
“Even with the trials that this can bring,” Tami said, “the reward is so much greater.”
November is National Adoption Month with the Saturday before Thanksgiving being designated as National Adoption Day. It “is a collective national effort to raise awareness of the more than 110,000 children in foster care waiting to find permanent, loving families” (nationaladoptionday.org).
Orphan Sunday (orphansunday.org) is a similar initiative but one with a gospel focus as churches set aside November 12 this year to inform, equip, and encourage Christians to care for orphans. Orphan Sunday is organized by the Christian Alliance for Orphans (cafo.org). CAFO provides the needed resources and a wealth of information for any church to host its own Orphan Sunday.
Hope for Orphans (hopefororphans.org) seeks to serve every church to reach every orphan by equipping churches for orphan ministry.
You and Me Forever by Francis and Lisa Chan – available as a free download at youandmeforever.org.
Don’t Waste Your Life by John Piper
Fields of the Fatherless by Tom Davis
Orphanology: Awakening to Gospel-Centered Adoption and Orphan Care by Tony Merida and Rick Morton
Adoption is the Gospel – a video by Kara Young – available on YouTube.com.