The day began in a whirlwind, a frantic race to gather a long list of items to be ready to pack the car in the afternoon for a gruelingly long drive. You see, acceptance for our child into a therapeutic placement had come together fairly quickly and the day to leave had arrived. I had perhaps been suppressing the need for this amidst the daily trials of life. With expectant hope that God would work, we made this difficult decision after months of seeking the Lord; months of prayer; months of searching for an appropriate place, all the while hoping and pleading that this wouldn’t be needed. Yet, my beloved child continued to walk a road of utter destruction verbally and physically abusing others regularly, refusing to submit to authority, neglecting schoolwork, etc. So, here I was packing and preparing to let my child go for a time. My heart, oh my heart! It felt as if it were shattered. Though much prayer and seeking counsel had happened prior to this decision, the decision was deeply painful. Knowing others might judge and disagree was a weight to carry. Yet, the thought of where this child might end up without intervention was a weight that pressed upon us so heavily that we could not ignore it any longer.
Leaving my child at a therapeutic boarding school was perhaps the most difficult thing I have ever had to do. The tears were almost unstoppable. The pain in my heart excruciating. My stomach struggling to keep down what little I had managed to eat earlier that day. The urge to turn around and go get my child playing against my deep desire to get help for my child. Oh, the deep, deep pain. Pain too deep to truly express with words.
As November is celebrated as National Adoption month, I think we often fail to recognize the messy, gritty, painful aspects of adoption. Adoption is a beautiful, beautiful plan created by our most loving God. After all, He adopted a people for His own. Yet, our adoption cost the death of Christ on the cross. Why is it that we think adoption should be easy?
So many enter into adoption thinking they will simply give life and beauty to needy children. So many are surprised by the feeling of being all alone, or being abandoned by those they love. Yes, adoption is messy. It is difficult. It is also lovely, beautiful, and an amazing example of God’s abundant grace to His children.
I have always believed that God uses our children as a means of sanctification in our lives. This is true whether we are blessed with children by adoption, birth, or marriage. We and our children are sinful creatures. We are all in desperate need of God’s redeeming work in our lives. We are all in desperate need of sanctification. We all need Christ.
Recently, I have been convicted of my pride, my pride in thinking that I can do all for my children. As a mother, it is my deep joy to care for my children daily. However, sometimes we are faced more pointedly with the reality that we are totally unable to change our children’s hearts. It is solely the work of the Lord. I have always known this in my head, and that is one of the reasons I have always tried to point my children to Christ. I have done this imperfectly far too often, however, that has always been my desire. Yet, I have been guilty of holding on too long, thinking that I could bring about change. If only I did such and such. If only I were perfect. What will others think? All the while, a precious child deepened in their rebellion, hatred, and harmfulness to others. You see, adoption is very messy. When adopting older children, we have missed years of laying foundations that are healthy. We have missed birthdays, holiday celebrations, opportunities to care for them in sickness. We have not been there for some of our children’s deepest pains, nor perhaps some of their joys. Adopted children often cannot even remember anything joyful in their life because what they have endured is so horrific. We adopt, not to have our needs or desires met, we adopt because Christ loved us and we want to lavish that love on others, hoping that one day they will come to know the God who is able to rescue them, not from the temporary horror they were in, but from eternal horror.
Holding on to our children is what we do as parents. We love them and desire the best for them. Yet, sometimes we are called to let them go for a time, hoping and praying that God will work in their hearts to bring joy out of sorrow, knowing that we are utterly unable, but we have a God who is.
My aching heart was tempted to neglect the gathering of believers the Sunday morning following my return from leaving my child. The struggle in my heart to want to be alone, to coddle my pain, to shut down was so real. Yet, we have a big God. He used my dear husband to resurrect my thinking and encourage me. I rose from bed, went to church and was met by my most loving, gracious God. Worship in song, oh what a blessed grace gift. One of the songs that morning was the song entitled In the Valley by Bob Kauflin. As I sang the words to that song, the Lord convicted me of my pride. He convicted me of thinking that following what He had asked me to do in bringing my child to a therapeutic home was somehow about me. He convicted me that He is able and I am prideful to think that I could do it on my own. He convicted me of how prideful I am to be more concerned of what others think than of obedience to my Savior. You see, there is peace in the valley. We can walk in the deep valley of pain and trial in this life and find peace because of Christ. Yes, peace! As I sang this song on that Sunday morning, a peace washed over me. A peace I cannot explain or comprehend except to know that God is so kind and merciful to His children. There is joy in obedience. It isn’t always easy, but God blessed me as I did not neglect to gather corporately to worship Him that Sunday morning. My flesh was weak, but my God was greater still. The words preached that morning were a balm to my soul. The other songs sung ministered to me as if chosen just for me. I know the tears will still come, the pain is still real, but there is peace in the valley.
Adoption is challenging. Adoption is joyful. As you may be challenged to consider adoption during the month of November, National Adoption month, I also challenge you to consider ways you may come alongside those who have chosen to adopt. At the very least, I challenge you to pray for the immensely vast number of children needing a family, and for the many families who have chosen to adopt. We have a God who is able!