5 Things Adoption Has Taught Me About God

1. God’s plans are better than our own.

“‘For My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are My ways your ways,’ declares the Lord. ‘For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways and My thoughts than your thoughts.’” – Isaiah 55:8-9

Adoption plans often play out nothing like the prospective parents were hoping, expecting, or planning. Our family planned to adopt two children from Ethiopia and––four years later––we had grown our family through a domestic adoption of a newborn boy, a biological son, and a little boy from Lesotho, a country we had never heard of until the day we started filling out paperwork to adopt from there. If you sat down in a room full of adoptive families and asked all of them about their family stories, you would probably hear many accounts of God doing surprising, hard, and beautiful things as they went about growing their families through adoption. I’m also pretty confident that each parent would say they were thankful for God’s hand in their adoption because it led them to their specific children. They would probably admit that God’s plan was best.

2. God redeems.

“He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.” – Psalm 147:3

When we began our adoption process, I often daydreamed of meeting and holding my child for the first time. I always imagined tears of joy. When I was handed a sleeping little baby boy for the first time while standing in an office complex conference room I did cry tears of joy. But they were mixed with tears of sorrow for this sweet boy’s first mommy. Adoption always begins with brokenness in some way. Even the best scenarios involve loss, and even a newborn baby can feel heavy when they come with that story. I felt like it was up to me to redeem that, but it isn’t up to me. God can take a brokenhearted situation and heal it. That doesn’t mean that there won’t be scars left behind, but God is in the business of healing and redeeming, and I’m thankful to be a small instrument in that process.

3. God sees our hearts and hears our cries equally.

“But the Lord said to Samuel, ‘Do not look on his appearance or on the height of his stature, because I have rejected him. For the Lord sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.’” – 1 Samuel 16:7

Some of my children I carried in my belly for nine months and for some I filled out a lot of paperwork and waited for emails and phone calls to let me know I was becoming a mother again. We have various skin, hair, and eye colors in our house, along with very different personalities.

Most of our kids are still young enough to occasionally wake up in the night crying out for one reason or another. A few months after we brought our son home from Africa, my husband and I heard someone crying over the baby monitor and we didn’t know who it was. My boys with their different DNA all of a sudden sounded the same. I couldn’t distinguish between my newest little boy with his African accent or my youngest biological child who hadn’t left my side for more than a few minutes his whole first year. I just knew that someone was crying––someone was in need. God hears our cries and searches our hearts equally as His children. Our needs and hurts are all so different, but when we cry He just hears one of His children in need.

4. God wants us to trust Him like a child.

“And truly I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.” – Matthew 18:3

Each time we add a child to our family, I get anxious about how everyone will react. When you are bringing a baby home, you expect a certain amount of jealousy or “challenging” behavior from a two-year old. When you fly to another continent with a 5-year old, 2-year old, and 7-month old to meet their newest brother––who is also 2 years old and happens to look really different from them––there is even more anxiety. I was prepared to be patient as these new brothers bonded and to talk with my 5-year old about his feelings about this new child in our family and how it might feel kind of strange. But I didn’t have to at all. My boys knew that this little guy was their brother and they never questioned it. They were in a foreign country surrounded by people who looked and sounded nothing like them, but they trusted and knew that he was their brother and never looked back. God tells us that everyone is our neighbor and we are all one in Christ, but I feel like we are often saying, “I’m going to need more time to get to know them before I call them brother.” My kids can definitely be immature and embarrass me when they say a food someone made is yucky or ask if a guest brought them a present. However, in that moment in Africa, when an orphanage volunteer placed a screaming, scared child in my lap, my boys taught me that loving someone new and different as a brother is pretty simple. Pat them on the back when they cry, say kind things to them, smile a lot, and maybe even give them a cookie. Just commit to love and figure it out as you go.

5. God feels strongly about family.

“He predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will.” – Ephesians 1:5

Twice we have been to the same courthouse in middle Tennessee to finalize the adoption of our sons. One of our boys we had in our home for almost a year and we called him our son and knew he was our son, but we weren’t able to legally adopt him before that court hearing. That hearing is when his name became official, we received a birth certificate with our names listed as his parents, and we stood before the court and promised to be his family forever. One of the phrases the attorney reads off when taking our oath is “… and he will legally be able to inherit.” When I heard that I teared up, not because of some fortune we plan to pass on, but because it made me think of the significance of an inheritance, particularly in the Bible. I’ve heard a lesson about this verse in Ephesians and that it wasn’t necessarily talking about adoption of an orphan as a son, but a father who would make a choice about a baby born to him and if he wanted to accept the child as his own. Either way, the obvious positive outcome is adoption. To be added into a family, given a name and an inheritance. That is what we have through Jesus Christ. We are about to be the parents of 5 boys and they all have an equal role in our family. They would all have an equal part of the inheritance whether they share our DNA or not because they are our sons. God sent His son so that we would be eligible for an inheritance.

Adoption was not some great heroic act we did. We definitely encourage anyone who has considered it to say “yes” because we know the blessings it has brought into our lives. But mostly, we feel thankful that adoption gets to be a part of our story because we love our children and cannot imagine life without them. I have a close friend who has a PhD in biology and she often talks about how the more she learns about science, the more she learns about God. On paper, she and I are very different, but we each use the circumstances God gave us to better see Him. Adoption has opened my eyes to God in a way I never would have seen Him if adoption wasn’t part of our lives.

This article appears in the December 2017 issue of Think magazine. To subscribe to Think, click here.