“Orphan care is the outliving of the indwelling Christ in us.”
“Orphan care is the outliving of the indwelling Christ in us.”
“Christ died that we might live. This is the opposite of abortion. Abortion kills that someone might live differently.”
“The Christ within who is our hope of glory is not a matter of theological debate or philosophical speculation. He is not a hobby, a part-time project, a good theme for a book, or a last resort when all human effort fails. He is our life, the most real fact about us. He is the power and wisdom of God dwelling within us.”
Another article that really hit a nerve for me, as I realise that I too will carry the burden of infertility for the rest of my life. As she writes: “After all, while adoption does grow a family, it isn’t a cure for infertility. It doesn’t erase the pain or the sleepless nights spent weeping for the loss of a dream.”
There were so many things my husband and I didn’t know before we decided to grow our family. We didn’t know how incredibly hilarious preschoolers are. We didn’t know that although a child may be potty “trained,” they might choose not to exercise that skill. We didn’t know how innocently a child can love and how quick they are to forgive. We also didn’t know how intensely angry and out-of-control that same child could be! We didn’t know about the Wild Kratts or Angelina Ballerina. We had no idea about car seat laws. We also didn’t know that we were walking into years of infertility.
About three years ago, my husband and I, quite naïvely, decided to grow our family of two. We began trying to conceive and pursuing our foster care license at the same time. I remember my husband saying, “Let’s just walk through whatever doors God opens,” and, while I was nodding my head in agreement, I was really only thinking of foster care, assuming we’d be pregnant in no time. Well, we walked through the open doors and none of them led to a pregnancy or even a baby.
Those doors led to two gorgeous kids, ages 5 and nearly 3 when they joined our family over a year and a half ago. They have completely changed our world, and, about a month after saying yes to those four precious eyes and twenty continuously dirty little fingers, Joe and I sat in a doctor’s office and were diagnosed with infertility. At that point, I was still in disbelief. I was thinking, “Okay God, You must be letting these littles settle in, and then You will give us a baby.” Nope. That’s not what He was doing. He was just plain ole’ closing doors.
Once I began accepting those closed doors, I realized something profoundly deeper than I ever had before–infertility is about more than not being able to grow a family, and, for that reason, exists independently from adoption. I got honest with myself and openly admitted that I really want a biological child too, especially after seeing and knowing the deep hurts of the two children in my arms. God has written a story of redemption for my two children, as He works in their lives and displays His love for them. I’ve been so thankful to be a part of that story, but I’m still hoping to be a part of another storyline for a child–a story where I protect them from the very beginning, always keeping them safe and loved, where the plot is without trauma, abuse, or tragic loss. I want to walk the journey that God intended for every child from the beginning, not just the journey that has resulted from a broken and fallen world.
Having experienced infertility and adoption both first-hand, I also began to call out all of my prior judgments of people who “just adopted” because they couldn’t get pregnant. First of all, there is no such thing as “just adopting.” Adoption is huge. It isn’t about “just” loving a child. It isn’t “just” a way to grow a family. It isn’t something you “just” do as Plan B. It is hard. It is life changing. It is born out of so much hurt and pain.
And it isn’t for everyone.
Adoption can be expensive. It can take years of waiting. It is emotionally draining, both before and after the adoption is complete. It can mean a completely different lifestyle from what was expected. Anyone who has walked through infertility can also identify with these, as it is also expensive, long, emotionally draining, and definitely outside of one’s expectations of life. While the journey of infertility may be preparing some hearts to be stretched and refined all over again with adoption, it may also be shaping others to move a different direction entirely. After all, while adoption does grow a family, it isn’t a cure for infertility. It doesn’t erase the pain or the sleepless nights spent weeping for the loss of a dream.
Adoption doesn’t end the journey of infertility.
It certainly hasn’t ended ours. We are walking these paths independently from each other. In one moment we may mourn the loss of a dream as we wait on a little pink line that never comes, and, in the next, we are celebrating the amazing act of redemption happening in our children and us through the blessing of adoption. And in each of these moments, we have learned that we can keep praising Christ, because He is our fortress. He holds us up. He supports us. He strengthens us. In the throws of infertility and adoption, He is there standing, proving His faithfulness.
I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through Him who strengthens me. Philippians 4:12-13
* This article was first published on www.lifesongfororphans.org.
“Adoption is defined as mission … Adoption tells us our purpose in this age as the people of Christ. Missional adoption spurs us to join Christ in advocating for the helpless and the abandoned.”
A very good look at both adoption as we know it to be but also our adoption into God’s family by the work of Jesus Christ.
All My Children Are ‘My Own’
OCT 292014The theological significance of adoption language.
“We prefer not to refer to our children as ‘adopted children’ as we see adoption as having been a one-time event. We just call them our children,” Hagerty said.
“If Mommy gets a baby in her belly, will you send me back?” my daughter asked, with nervous eyes searching the floor, inhaling the shame of those words as if they were her indictment.
It’s often near the surface for this one — not the year she was “chosen” and a mommy and daddy flew all the way across the ocean to look her in the eyes and call her daughter — but the too-many, earlier years that still seem to weigh heavier. These days, she lives buoyant and giddy. Her eyes have found a sparkle, and we see them more than we see those hands that spent nearly a year awkwardly covering them. My little girl laughs. A lot. And this week when I hugged her I could tell her body wanted to melt (not stiffen) in my arms.
But just within her reach is the shame she feels about her life on the other side, when her given last name tied her to no one. One phrase or question or hint of her past and I watch those eyes, which just harnessed a sparkle, go dark.
Adoption saved her and it haunts her, because of its open-ended definition to her. It’s still a question. She, like many of the rest of us, has yet to reconcile the power of this one act.
Children of My Own
I hadn’t even kissed their foreheads or tickled their feet and this stranger’s words about them stung.
“Oh, you’re adopting? Just you wait. Once you have them at home I’m sure you’ll be able to have children of your own.”
A phrase I’ve heard a hundred times, and it never ceases to give my heart pause. Children of your own, words that expose a subconscious understanding of adoption as charitable affection versus primal love. As if these, once-adopted ones, were somehow, not truly mine.
There is a distinction in our language about those children, once adopted, and their biological counterparts that reveals much more about the state of our hearts — the state of myheart — than it does about the children to whom it’s referring.
That simple phrase, often spoken by beautifully intentioned people, reveals the shame under which my daughter sometimes lives. But she’s not alone, she just lives an outward existence that represents the battle each one of us fights in our understanding of him.
It is inherent to human flesh. We are interlopers, or so we think, hanging on to the coattails of another person’s inheritance. Certainly we’re not “one of his own,” we hold deep-down; instead we grasp at something we believe will never really name us. We are simply recipients of his charitable affections, we subconsciously reason.
Our language about physical adoption reveals the gaps in our understanding about how he has adopted us. And those words that sting when I hear them make me hurt more than just for my children, but for the representation of his name.
Most can’t imagine a love beyond what we see in the natural as the most intense form of love — the kind birthed when a mother’s body breaks open to give life to one that shared her flesh and her breath. How could it be that a mother could not only love, but see as her own, a child that her womb did not form and who wears another mama’s skin? We see the struggle of attaching, mother to child and child to mother, that so often happens in adoption, and it only reinforces our subconscious belief that true love between mother and child is only inherited through blood … and not won.
Adoption Changes Everything
When my daughter’s eyes fill with the shame of her history and her heart begins to clamp behind them and adoption is still her question — am I truly “in” or just posing? – I see me. I see a hundred weak yeses as just plain weak and all the things I’ve declared with my mouth that my body never fulfilled and the times I poured out prayers to him only to forget him, the real source of my strength, hours later.
I see a never-ending list of failures. I live, subtly, as if I am on the outside of that fence. Just like her. All things that could be wiped away in an instant if I understood the power of his having adopted me. This reality changes everything.
I am a child of his own, this God-Man who wrapped his holiness around my sin-stained existence and renamed me. Adopted. Grafted. I am one who is marked by his name more than any of my failures.
A child who knows that adoption isn’t really about the past that haunts her, the forever stamp of separate, not included, but instead the name of the King who fought, hard for her — she wears a love that is fierce. She’s a force with which to be reckoned, this wildly-loved former-orphan. Me.
So when I hear that phrase “a child of your own” separating the children under my roof from the one born from my womb, and my heart saddens at the misunderstanding of this wild-love that’s been birthed within my home among children who wear another mama’s skin, I can’t help but think of him.
He calls me “his own” when the world and my heart wants to label me forever severed.
Adoption is his great declaration.
Sara Hagerty is a wife to Nate and a mother of five whose arms stretched wide across the ocean to Africa. Sara is the author of Every Bitter Thing is Sweet: Tasting the Goodness of God In All Things and she writes regularly about life-delays, finding God in the unlikely, motherhood, marriage and adoption athttp://EveryBitterThingisSweet.com, where this article originally appeared.
* This article was first posted on Christianity Today.
“Nobody is born into this world a child of the family of God. We are born as children of wrath. The only way we enter into the family of God is by adoption, and that adoption occurs when we are united to God’s only begotten Son by faith. When by faith we are united with Christ, we are then adopted into that family of whom Christ is the firstborn.”
“Radical obedience to Christ is not easy… It’s not comfort, not health, not wealth, and not prosperity in this world. Radical obedience to Christ risks losing all these things. But in the end, such risk finds its reward in Christ. And he is more than enough for us.”