Adoption: Three perspectives from the raw edge of reality
My wife and I adopted all four of our children (ages 3, 5, 7, and 10). The three youngest are biological siblings who came out of an horrific situation of neglect. Our eldest was in the custody of OKDHS from birth through age five. Prior to coming to our home, he had been in over 20 placements. All four, though not entering our family through biological processes, have been “born out of our hearts” of love. The eldest was first in line with his adoption finalized in 2009. The others were adopted one year ago yesterday.
So, pretty neat story, right? After all, only a calloused and extremely cynical person would hate adoption or not appreciate a good example of children being rescued and placed in a loving home. Here we approach the first perspective on adoption:
- Adoption looks lovely.
Yes, adoption certainly DOES look lovely. It is beautiful to hear the accounts of children being changed from orphans to sons and daughters. Just the other day I watched an adopted child spend time with her family. This precious one used to live her life locked away in a closet. But she was discovered, put up for adoption, and made a part of a loving, Christ-centered family. She is now thriving, full of life and is a joy to be around. Does this not remind us of our condition of spiritual captivity prior to being rescued by Christ? As followers of Jesus, we see human adoption set against the backdrop of the Gospel itself. After all, the Father in Heaven adopted all those who are in Christ and has made them part of His family (Ephesians 1:4-5). Each time we see human adoption and sense its beauty, we should thank our Heavenly Father for our spiritual adoption in Christ.
But adoption does not come without a price. There are “ashes” before “beauty.” For Jesus the price was excruciating – truly, a cross. That’s what it took to rescue spiritual orphans held captive in darkness. Jesus paid the ultimate price to bring us in. This leads us to our second perspective on adoption:
- Adoption looks painful.
When we look at Jesus we see that this corresponds to reality. But it is also true of human adoption. Jesus went to the cross. Adoptive parents must take up their cross and choose daily to love and serve children who may not have the capacity to receive the love offered. What if the “normal” behavior of the child adopted is more similar to a raging tornado than a gentle breeze? I will tell you “what if.” We have experienced the painful side of adoption. Our home that once was an oasis of joy and serenity, at least more often than not, is now more chaotic than not. Pain enters as we realize that our home resembles a war zone more than a place of respite. Pain is a reality when the office is more restful than home. Pain is a reality when one child begins to get resentful because of the chronic, disruptive, manipulating, and downright intentionally hurtful and mean behaviors of other children in the home. Pain enters when we get to the place where we are tempted to count the years we have left with a child before they can leave the home – longing for the time when they will. Pain enters when we realize that every tool we try to implement in order to help the wounded child comes up short – ineffective. There IS a painful side to adoption.
Is there a path forward? Is all hope lost for recovery of adoption in a challenging situation? Well, I suppose time will have to bear ultimate witness to this; however, I do want to offer a third perspective on adoption that peers into the future. This perspective is as follows:
- Adoption looks hopeful.
We believe that God brought our children to us…that He personally hand picked them to be our sons and daughters. This understanding, coupled with our absolute trust that God truly does work all things together for the good of those who love Him (Romans 8:28), causes us to look ahead with faith and hope that rests not in our own abilities, for those have proven futile, but in the abilities of God Himself (Ephesians 3:20-21). After all, is it not He who has the ability to take dry bones and cover them with flesh and make what was dead come to life (Ezekiel 37:1-14)? Does not the Lord Jesus possess “immeasurable power” and reign supreme over all authorities (Ephesians 1:20-22)? Can He not transform lives? We believe He can – and often does. These truths we hold on to with a sometimes faltering, sometimes sure hope that God will break through – that He will rescue – that He will save – that He will heal our children and our home. We remain committed to our children in the hope that God will create beauty in them as He draws them to Jesus, saves them, and heals them in the wounded places of their lives. This is our firm commitment and hope.