Like all new parents Dennis and I welcomed our first four bio babies with joy and great anticipation for what God had planned. It was no different with our adopted daughter. We had equally lofty hopes and dreams for life with her. Our story, like most adoptions, was marked by the unmistakable hand of God. An unexpected visit, a casual conversation or so it seemed to us, a phone call, a hymn on the radio; all signs of His guiding, preparing, orchestrating and confirming this His will for our lives as a family.
In those early years I learned that God has been adopting those who come to Him by faith for millennia (Ephesians 1:5)! A beautiful truth. And His heart for orphans is clearly seen in His Book; “the Lord upholds the widow and the fatherless,” (Ps 146:9); and Jesus said, “I will not leave you as orphans, I will come to you,” (John 14:8).
But adoption is not His plan only for little ones needing a forever family, but it’s His plan for we the parents, any siblings, and the extended family of these grafted in children. I only thought on that April day 35 years ago that it was all about her!
Here are three more lessons I learned from the hand of God through the experience of being Deborah’s mom. If you missed the first three click here.
4. There is always hope as long as there is breath
Every parent wishes and longs for formulas, guarantees, and the best skills to try with our kids. We look to human experts for our hope instead of God. No question He uses books and podcasts and His people to give guidance. But what we as broken people do, often without realizing it, is place our hope in those people, books and tips. I can tell you this, and you will hear and agree, but still you will look for hope in other places. It’s the nature of our hearts to wander, to find something more concrete than a God we can’t see or touch.
Like every parent before me I too looked to ‘experts’, even other parents, to solve my parenting challenges, thinking if I can find the right therapy or parenting style I can solve this. Again, nothing wrong with learning. It is crucial. Parents must work and pray hard…never give up…always believe the best…and give our kids everything we can. But we are broken flawed humans in need of God’s grace and redemptive help. Only He can work the heart change He and I desire.
One of the best resources available for adoptive and foster families today is the Christian Alliance for Orphans (CAFO). Dennis and I helped found this organization in 2003 and I’ve been a board member for years. I hope you’ll check it out but remember no one resource is guaranteed. None are T H E answer. There is no magic wand for parents of adoptive kids, foster kids or biological kids. Period. Parenting is not a science, it’s an art!
God has taught me my hope must be in Him alone. As we worked hard and prayed faithfully for our daughter, my hope was that our efforts would result in all the important lessons being learned by the time she was 18; then I changed my prayer to age 20, then 21. Sometime in her early 20s I surrendered my hopes and desires to God and His timing. I said to Him one day, “God You are in control and I am not. I will trust you with my daughter’s life and if it takes till she is 40, like Moses, or longer for her to come to You and fully surrender to You, I will trust. I will not waver in my belief in You and Your plan. Lord God You know what you are doing.” As long as my child, your child of any age, breathes there is hope. Your child is not yours but His.
5. Women are quick to believe and also quick to be deceived. A tiny little nugget of theology for you. The word believe means a conviction of truth, belief in God and divine things as seen in the women who went to the tomb on Easter morning and were quick to believe Christ had risen. The men didn’t believe and were reproved by the Savior while the women received His approval. Eve was also quick to believe, but her belief in the words of satan, spoken by the serpent, resulted in deception.
This little truth about us as women has helped me pay closer attention to what I’m believing. Having watched both the adoption world and parenting techniques for decades I have learned we who belong to Christ can often be the most gullible. No therapy, essential oil, vitamin regimen or learning style works for all. I have tried many of these solutions with my children and none of them are inherently wrong. My lesson that I share with you is be careful what you place your faith in. Again, be careful what you believe and where you place your hope. Listen to the leading of the Spirit and be united with your spouse in decision making.
6. God has plans and purposes that are beyond your imagining. He loves your children more than you do and is fully capable of rescuing and redeeming them without your help. In fact, sometimes we hinder His working when we become hovering parents.
The wonders we have watched Him weave into our adopted daughter’s life have left us astonished. We have seen her faith mature into a wisdom beyond her years. She has resolutely believed God when I would have thought it impossible. Had I the power to orchestrate and run her life the outcome would not have been as beautiful as what God has done! God is fully capable of executing His will without my help! He used us as parents for that is His design, but His working in her was not dependent on us.
Like Job, I have learned that I don’t have to understand what God is doing. “The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away,” (Job 1:21). He asks me to worship Him no matter what I experience and endure.
My duty in all seasons of life is to bow before Him and surrender. “I urge you therefore…to present yourselves a living sacrifice, acceptable to God.. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your minds,” (Romans 12:1 & 2).
My responsibility is to continue to believe He is good and in control. God’s job is to work “all things together for good,” (Romans 8:28). He is fully capable. We must be willing to wait.
The most important work you can do for your children, adopted or biological, your foster kids, or your adoption work is to be surrendered to Christ fully, daily, in every situation and circumstance. Over and over and over.
When you are surrendered to His plans and His work you will find rest for your souls.
And you will find, as I have, that God is enough!