The Old Testament speaks of adoption as part of God’s plan. Exodus 2:10 speaks of the Pharaoh’s daughter adopting Moses, and Esther 2:7 speaks of how Hadassah (Esther) was adopted by her cousin Mordecai, both having a huge influence on the Salvation story.
Romans 8:14-16 and Galatians 4:4-6 both teach how God has adopted each and every believer into His own family. Psalm 68:5 even goes to define God as “Father to the fatherless”.
Finally, we are instructed, as believers, to adopt children in James 1:27, “Pure and undefiled religion in the sight of our God and Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their distress;” and Matthew 18:5, “Whoever receives one such child in My name receives Me.”
Surely then, with Scripture verses such as these, anyone who was drawn to adoption must be being called to it, right?
This was my automatic assumption when my husband and I were first diagnosed with infertility. Rather than pursuing fertility treatment, we went directly to trying to adopt. We spent several years trying to pinpoint how exactly God intended for us to adopt. I never once stopped to discern IF God was actually calling us to adopt.
When four birth mothers changed their minds, we began to wonder if maybe we were being too picky by wanting to adopt a newborn. We thought for sure that opening up our hearts and home to foster would be rewarded with the ability to adopt our foster daughter. Ten months later, she was reunited with her mom, and our hearts were again broken. Finally, we decided that we were allowing our finances to dictate where we would adopt from, and so we turned to international adoption.
Various factors played into our decision to withdraw from the program a year later. And just in case the Lord wasn’t being clear enough that He was not calling us to adopt, a tragic and personal situation arose that effectively made us no longer eligible to adopt from anywhere. There was no question about it; God was not calling us to adopt.
But why not? Why are so many other infertile couples struggling with coming to terms with their infertility before finally coming around to accepting God’s call to adopt, while we were ready and willing from the get-go, and yet it was not at all in His plans for us?
I think the answer to this can be found in Scripture as well. Ephesians 2:8-9 states, “For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast.” If I’m being perfectly honest with myself, during the years we tried to adopt, I subconsciously felt somehow more receptive to God’s will because we went straight to adoption instead of trying to bypass our infertility.
Perhaps I even judged those who were simply not willing to adopt, quoting such heart-breaking reasons as not being able to love “someone else’s child” as their “own”. Whenever I thought of “my own child”, I thought of whatever child God would allow us to raise in our home and family. Genetics was not a factor for me. And so, I think God knew that had we been successful in adopting, I would have boasted. I would have thought that because of something we did, because of adopting, we were somehow “better” than those who wouldn’t adopt.
For me, the Lord used our years of trying to adopt, and our infertility, to teach me humility and trust. Humility to accept whatever path to parenthood God had in store for us, without regards to if it would make us look good in the eyes of others. And trust to accept that I don’t have all the answers and that sometimes what doesn’t make sense is only incomprehensible because I don’t have all the information. In the end, it is not for us to decide whether what God is calling us to is “good enough”. It’s good enough by virtue of it coming from God.
Blessed Mother Teresa, who based her own ministry on “the little flower” (as St. Therese de Lisieux was known), made famous doing small things with great love. God’s love best shines through in the everyday little things, not in grand undertakings that generally attract more attention to the doer than to the glory of God.
I continue to have a heart for adoption, and I still grieve not having been able to adopt. However, I am eternally grateful for the lessons the Lord taught me along the way, and that He saw it fit to eventually bless us with a child. After all, the spirit of adoption is not about where a child comes from, but the future you provide for the child that enters your life.