Adoption taught us about God
I am Stephanie Webb, and my husband, Jason, and I have been home with our son Caedmon for almost two years. We brought him home from Ethiopia when he was 17 months old. We blogged about our adoption journey at webbadoption.blogspot.com. Our adoption experience has taught me much about God. In many ways, the last two years have been the most stretching for me, but I am so thankful for our son and how much my faith has grown through this experience. What I have learned:
#1 He loves me. Sure, I knew God loved me before I adopted. But adoption was (and still is, sometimes) one of the deepest trials I have been through. And in many ways, I failed the test. I failed on days of waiting when I let despair eat at me after weeks of no referrals. I failed on days in Ethiopia. Jet lagged and emotionally freaked out, I was not always acting my Sunday best. I failed on days when we were finally home, letting impatience and frustration bleed out onto my family. Yet God has remained faithful to me. Jeremiah 31:3 often echoes in my mind. “I have loved you with an everlasting love; therefore I have continued my faithfulness to you.” God’s love is not based on my stellar parenting performances, and He is not surprised when my patience runs out at 7:15 AM (provided that the kids slept in!). His love is based on his eternal, merciful choice to love me, a rotten sinner. I don’t pretend to understand it, but my adoption has helped me to further relish it.
#2 He adopted me. In many ways adoption is a very strange process, and the strangeness of it all did not end when we came home with our son. Going through things that other parents simply don’t understand only increases the strangeness and feeling of isolation. Yet the more I figured out our life as a new family, the more I grew to understand and appreciate the fact that my Father adopted me. And he did it perfectly. “While we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” I am encouraged that in Christ, I can be the adoptive mother I long to be. He is willing and able to give me everything I need because He has been through this messy thing called adoption himself. When I think of how imperfectly I have behaved toward my father, how great my sins have been, yet how faithfully he has loved me, I cannot help but be amazed and thankful. “From his fullness we have received grace upon grace.” This makes me want to turn around and be like God. His adoption of me gives me the grace I need to have the same sort of self-denying, life-altering love for my children.
#3 He will finish the work he started in me. Though adoption is hard, I can see the muscles it is building in my faith. I’m starting to understand why Paul told us to look at our trials as ‘light and momentary.’ At every milestone, every Referral Day or Meetcha Day anniversary, I can look back and see what God has been doing. He took an orphan and made him a beloved son. He perfectly timed paperwork, people, money, and hearts to give us a child who is somehow a Webb through and through. Our adoption testimony encourages me to fully believe that God WILL finish what he started in me when he adopted me decades ago.
#4 He knows how to help even when I don’t feel helped. The hardest things about adoption are rarely spoken about on our favorite Youtube videos. They are not often mentioned by those who have gone before us in adoption, but the truth was that for months our world fell apart. We fell apart. When we arrived home with our son, he was very emotionally fragile. Every day seemed impossible to get through. By 9AM we were ready to throw in the towel. We were exasperated, guilty, and worn out. We cried out for mercy. We cried out for change. And nothing seemed to happen. We didn’t feel helped. We didn’t feel held. We didn’t feel like we were gaining any ground.
But a year later we have learned this very precious, sacred lesson: you don’t have to feel held to have God holding you. God doesn’t have to sweep in and save the day for him to be at work. He held us. We didn’t know it at the time, but we were upheld. He preserved us. Did we fail? Yes, but our God didn’t. Not one day. Not one hour. Not one second. For Jesus’ sake, he upheld us. And something started to happen. We could start to look back and see that we weren’t where we were 3 months ago. We weren’t where we were 6 months ago. We didn’t feel any radical progress, but God was changing things: our hearts, our son’s heart, and our faith.
Now I can look a prospective adoptive parent in the eye and say, “I’m so excited about your adoption! You are going to begin to see just how good God is! You are about to see how precious the gospel of Jesus Christ is!”
The end of adoption is the glory of God in the face of Christ Jesus. It ends not with me, but with Jesus Christ. And that is what we have learned.