I rarely post things that are specific to helping adoptive families, but really felt that was what the Lord was directing me to do. That being said, this is a post about pushing forward in your calling, period. So I pray you find encouragement here.
In recent weeks our family has been walking through some of the most difficult challenges we’ve faced as an adoptive family and it’s my hope to share some joy and encouragement to others traveling through their own difficulties, as Jesus is encouraging me. As an adoptive family, your home may feel like any average family for a period, but it isn’t an average family. You may walk along for seasons with that mindset and then you will be faced with something unexpected and you’ll realize once again the greater needs you are called to deal with in your house. Your home is a hospital.
Trauma is much like an underlying sickness. A person can keep living for a while and treating surface symptoms but one day, if it’s not dealt with, the person will get sicker and be forced to get to the root of the problem or there can be serious repercussions. Sometimes trauma can lie dormant for years and either due to the choices of a person, or other factors, trauma and the results of trauma can resurface or for the very first time, become evident.
As an adoptive family that has been called to adopt children from hard places, trauma is a reality that we have to face and that we have to realize will need to be dealt with. A child cannot spend their formative years in neglect, abuse, and with lack of interaction, etc…without there being some sort of issues that are going to need tackling. The longer those things have gone on, many times, the deeper the wounds and impact they will have had on a child. That’s not to say that Jesus cannot and will not heal wounds- but it is to realize that the need for healing will be a reality.
I always cringe when I hear first time adoptive parents say things that I know I said as we prepared to go adopt our first child from Peru. Things that hint at, after affects of trauma may be a reality for some people, but they may not or will not be a reality for our family. This is not faith talk like I once thought it was. It’s foolish talk. To adopt a child from an orphanage is to fully assume the responsibility of possible lifelong after-affects of trauma, possibly more medical needs, and accepting the very true reality that every single thing in your adoptive child’s file may be untrue. I am not a cenacle person at all. I’m one of the most hope-filled and cup-half-full people I know and I am speaking from my own hope-filled, beautiful and still-unfolding story. But to expect that your adoption journey and after journey will be simple and unfold smoothly because you’re a believer is not only unwise, it’s unbiblical. Suffering, hardships and battles are a reality of walking out life as a believer. Praise God, so are redemption, joy and healing! That’s truth from God’s Word for everyone. But when you decide to bring the broken into your home, you are inviting a new level of spiritual warfare, physical battles and hardships into your life. That’s a fact. You’re also obeying God’s word and partnering with Jesus in a work of redemption! Wow! What an honor! You just won’t be the same after adopting and walking out adoption. You can’t be and that’s a great thing.
This is why I never tell everyone they should adopt. Every believer is called to care for the orphan in some facet but I encourage people to have a word from Jesus to adopt. You will go back to the word during the hard times and rejoice in the honor of being asked to walk out the calling, and reflecting on that word will be the foundation to carry you. Sometimes God is kind enough to give you some beautiful things to stand on regarding your adoptive kids’ future and you will definitely stand on and cherish those words as you see difficult things worked out.
You can go years as an adoptive parent, walking along and it seems that everything is fine, when a new layer of trauma is opened up. This can be very shocking and hard for the entire family. It can take years for the layers to be peeled back involved in early childhood trauma. It can take time to unpack trauma. As adoptive parents, we are called to this. It is dirty work.
Gospel work is often misunderstood and mistaken for flannel graphs and Sunday school, beautiful as they are, and not the reality of the dirty work of reaching the lost and loving the hurting. When you give your life for the broken, your hands will get dirty. You will get tired. Sometimes it will hurt. Bad. You will deal with issues you never would have touched had you checked off your American dream and had your 2.5 biological kids. Again, you are the hands and feet of Jesus, and he is with you in this work.
Adoptive parents are familiar with a term called cocooning. It is the precious time when a newly adopted child is brought into the home when the family cocoons around their new son and daughter to establish healthy attachment. Adoptive kids from institutions do not understand what mom and dad are. To drop them in the middle of a busy schedule with lots of people coming and going just doesn’t work. Adoptive parents have to start at the core of the family and build relationships out from there.
When adopting kids from hard places, many times you will have to go back to cocooning when new levels or layers of early trauma unfold. As painful as that reality can be, God never wastes pain and beautiful things are about to unfold. When you cut out all of the extras (extra outside activities and extra people coming and going) again you will be able to work through new things. Consider this a time to recenter everyone on the truth of God’s Word in a new way. Consider this a time to build stronger bonds as a family and grow trust with one another. It is rewarding and it will be worth it. We are in a season of cocooning once again, and we are seeing our kids dig deeper into God’s Word than ever before. We are seeing some of our kids press into Jesus in a way we’ve never seen them do before. Again, praise the Lord, he will never waste our pain.
As an adoptive parent, prayer is not only our lifeline, but the lifeline of everyone in our home. Please don’t assume for a minute, like I often have, that the surface things you see are a good indication that the people under your realm of authority are in less need of your intercession. In fact, I think the enemy will use things like this to lull all of us into a false reality so we stop prioritizing prayer in the way that we need to. God moves when we pray, and all of our kids need God to move in their lives. Most or all of the mountains that your adoptive kids will need moving will come only by prayer.
There’s a lot of hard in adoption. But yes, adoption still rocks. Some days, even in the hardest times, I cannot believe God himself was gracious enough to trust me as a mama to this work. I’m so humbled by this. I get to see big miracles on a daily basis. I get to see God do impossible things over and over and over again. Saying yes to adoption was probably the third greatest yes of my life apart from being saved and saying “yes” to become a Reed. 😉 I would never in a million years, go back to the bubble I called christianity before. Adoption is worth it.
Adoptive parent…you are:
*A facilitator of God’s healing. Daily, you get to be the hands of Jesus in word and action to lead your family to the Redeemer. You’ll certainly fail at times at this work, and his grace will fill in those gaps and pick you back up.
*A restorer. You get the honor of helping draw out the beautiful qualities in your kids and helping them see who they are!
*An intercessor. You are learning how to pray and press into the heart of Jesus and you WILL see mountains move.
*CALLED AS A FAMILY to this work. You, your spouse, and anyone else in your household. Please do not buy the lie that others in your home will be better off without your obedience to say yes to Jesus if you’re called to be an adoptive parent. You will go through very hard things, but even in the hardest things, you will be blessed for following the call to adopt. Will your children witness spiritual battles firsthand? Yes. But no one is ever safer under your realm of authority, than when you’re living out the perfect will of God as their leader. They would not be safer, even if it appears so, if you would avoid the brokenness you will inevitably deal with when you follow the call to adopt. On your roughest day parenting those being healed of their brokenness, the others in your home are safer than if you would’ve said no when God asked you to lay down your life to adopt. If you have biological and adoptive children in the mix they can learn how to pray and stand on God’s word in a radical way. Bearing with the broken will help shape them as servants of the King. It will prepare them for things God has called them to do. They will be all the better for your obedience. How do I know this when my kids aren’t grown? Because I’ve seen my own biological and adoptive kids transform as they pray and believe for their new siblings to come home, as they pray for their healing, and as they daily bear with inconveniences and abnormalities compared to typical family life, as their new siblings are healed and learn about family. But I also know it’s true because I believe God’s word when it says: He holds victory in store for the upright (psalm 84:11), we are commanded to and blessed when we defend the cause of the weak and fatherless (Psalm 82:3-4, Proverbs 31;9, Isaiah 58:6-7, Jeremiah 22:3, Luke 12:33), we are supposed to lay down our lives for others (1 John 3:16), and we find life by laying down our lives (Matthew 10:39). The other kids in our homes are beneficiaries of our obedience, and God will be with all of us.
*CHOSEN for this work. On the good days, on the hard days, on the broken days and on the visibly victorious days…you were chosen for this amazing work. Jesus is guiding you with His hands. He’s wiping away your tears, He’s holding up your arms, He’s letting you see his heart. He’s rejoicing over you with singing. He’s transforming you day by day. He’s building your perseverance. He’s using you as a visible representation of the gospel. He’s touching the nations through your hands.There will be grace for every step of the lane you’re called to run.
Faithful is he who called you, who also will do it. 1 Thessalonians 5:24