I remember sitting on my couch during a 6-week recovery from major surgery. It was summer of 2003 and there was no Facebook, so I was limited to daytime TV since I could not drive or keep my eyes open to read a book due to the pain medications. I soon filled my mornings by watching 2 back-to- back shows on TLC: “Birth Days” and “Adoption Stories”. I was drawn in by the emotional and happy moments these reality TV families experienced; tales of how they came to love the babies they bore the first hour and adopted the next. I cried happy tears for those families I did not know, but I also knew deep down that they were tears for my own longing to get married and have children of my own.
I was 37 at the time and had always wanted to be a wife and a mother. I had a successful career as a medical social worker for 15 years, and for many of those years I enjoyed the perks of being single. As I started to close in on my 40’s however, worry set in that marriage and becoming a mother would never happen for me. The medical world backed up my fears, telling me that I was running out of time for motherhood. Sometimes it was difficult to see so many of my friends get married and then welcome all the new babies that soon followed. My weekend social calendar was full of both bridal and baby showers for years. During my quiet times with God, I sensed Him telling me He would work it out, that I just needed to wait a little bit longer. Walking closely with God during those times gave me hope.
As I thought about it years later, those TV reality shows were a part of the hope He gave me and they left a lasting impression on me. I believe they were placed in my life at that time to prepare me for what God had planned to come. I remember loving these 2 reality shows because either way those babies joined their families, biologically or through adoption, both were wonderful and special. Those reality families loved their babies whether they birthed them naturally or adopted them. I also realized that it was then, during my recovery from surgery, that God planted the desire in me to experience both a “Birth Day” and an “Adoption Story” of my own.
At ages 41 and 38, Karl and I were married and we knew that since we both wanted at least 2 children, we needed to get started right away. I was a little sad that we would not have some carefree time as newlyweds, but I also knew the urgency of our situation. The road to having our children was relatively short, but rocky. Our daughter, Emily, was born after the heartache and anticipation of 4 back-to-back IVF cycles. After a spontaneous miscarriage and some more infertility treatments a year later, we knew the final chapter of our Birth Story was written and we were ready to start our Adoption Story.
Adopting was indeed, a very different story. There was a mountain of paperwork, interviews, and fingerprints to be examined. And then there was the waiting. Throughout the whole experience there were a lot of questions, some that we did not see coming or know how to answer right away. We had not anticipated the level of detail that the adoption application itself would entail. Would we accept a child or any race or ethnic background? If not, which ones? What if the biological family had a history of cancer? How about mental illness? What if the mother smoked, drank alcohol, or took drugs while pregnant? And if some drugs were ok, which ones weren’t? What if the child was the “product” of a rape? How about multiples? Some of these questions were “easy”, and others stopped us in our tracks and caused us some considerable thought and discussion, as we wanted to make sure we were equipped to handle any situation that might come along—as if that’s even possible!
Other “interesting” questions came from the people around us. Perhaps they meant well, but their questions indicated to us that they were leery of adoption. “Do you think you will be able to love both the children the same even though one is yours and one isn’t?” “Why would you want to raise someone else’s kid?” Wow. It was hard sometimes to not be defensive since we knew this was the plan for our family, and we had little doubt that we would love our adopted baby just as much as Emily.
The reality is, we are ALL adopted by God, or at least have the opportunity to be adopted by God. Galatians 4:4-5 says, “ But when the set time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those under that law, that we might receive adoption to sonship”. God walked with us in some amazing ways through our adoption of Abby because He reminded us that we are all adopted by Him and that was the whole purpose of sending His son, Jesus.
God welcomes all of us who believe in Him to become his adopted sons and daughters. There are no limits when He adopts us. He doesn’t require an adoption application and if He did, it wouldn’t matter which boxes we checked and which ones we didn’t. He already knows all there is to know about each of us and He accepts us right where we are. His love is unconditional. He loves ALL and wants ALL to come to know Him and become part of His family. His love is vast and beyond anything we can fully comprehend as humans. He loves us fully and equally.
Eight, almost nine, years later I can tell you with certainty that we love our Abby just as much as Emily. She is ours, no matter how she came to complete our family. We can’t imagine life without her and firmly believe that she is the child God planned for us. We don’t even think about her being adopted, unless we are talking about adoption (which I love to do!) I like to think of Emily as the gift God gave us, and Abby as the treasure He lead us to.
Abby sometimes doubts that she is loved as much as Emily because she knows she is adopted. When she expresses her doubt, we do our very best to convince her with hugs and every “love word” we can think of. Still, sometimes she isn’t quite convinced. In those times we tell her she needs to make a choice to believe us, even though her inner voice still tries to make her think otherwise. It’s that way sometimes with us too; we wonder how God could love us enough to adopt us. But that’s the whole reason Jesus came- so He could welcome each one of us into His family, in spite of our imperfections. Sometimes, in the midst of doubt, we just need to step out in faith and believe. And when we accept His love for us, He will always be there to welcome us as His sons and daughters.