Joel and Kristen received a Lifesong matching grant through our partner, Hands of Hope, to bring their daughter home from the Republic of Congo. After their adoption, they shared this beautiful testimony about the hope of adoption, in spite of the brokenness. In Kristen’s words–
My husband and I met when we were around 13-years-old and started talking about our desire to adopt prior to being married.
We believed in adoption, having looked at scriptures about caring for orphans and how God has adopted us. That’s what got us started.
All of those good things are so true, yet it’s kind of like how you can describe marriage before you are married. You know it’s from God, that it will be sanctifying, and that it’s a picture of Christ and the church. But until you experience it, you don’t realize just how much joy it can bring and just how sanctifying it is. It makes you go–
“Oh, I meant what I said, but I didn’t even realize how much more I would mean it later.”
For us, that’s what adoption has been like.
The Journey Begins
We started our adoption process over 5 years ago. A year after starting the process we brought a little girl into our home. After just a few short days with her, her mother changed her mind.
Honestly, we weren’t just crushed–we were in despair. How could God do this? Why would He do this? Didn’t He care? This opened our eyes to how we were seeing our family–like this little closed circle that was ours. Yes, we said we were willing to have an open adoption, but God was now asking us to continue to love a little one as well as her mother. He did not intend for us to play the role we had hoped to play.
Often, God has us walk through things we think we can’t face. And through it all, He opens our eyes to our selfishness, the sin in our hearts, and prejudices we didn’t even realize were there because, in his love, he refuses to leave us in our sin. We were starting to realize that loving orphans meant we couldn’t place our own family’s desire above what the Lord says, even when it means loss.
In this time, our biological son, Simeon, was born at 32 weeks. After 5 weeks in the NICU, we got to go home. For the first time since she left our home, we got to visit with the little girl that was mentioned a minute ago. The next few years of loving our son and loving this little girl (in a different capacity than we had planned) taught us a lot about how faithful God is. How we have to keep speaking truth of His faithfulness, or we tend to forget it in sorrow and trials.
Moving Forward With Open Hands
All of this led us to Mwana Villages, a baby home in the Republic of Congo. Their vision is to provide orphaned and vulnerable children and their families with transformative hope and a future. This place was putting children and their birth families first and sharing the hope of Jesus. There was a little girl there–our future daughter–who needed to be adopted, and we said yes to her in January 2016.
Honestly, at that point, we thought, “Ok, God. You’ve taken us through all of these hard things. I’m sure you are going to make this easy.” But He didn’t, and it was hard and testing. Yet, each of those months taught us something, too. It taught us how often we think things should go our way. Twenty months after we first saw Elsie’s face, we flew to bring her home. I can’t even begin to tell you the joy when we saw her face to face.
The Weight of Adoption
Unlike 5 years ago when we started, the weight of what adoption means is much heavier on our hearts.
It means there is a little one who should never have known loss but does.
It means there are 20-plus mama caregivers in Congo who see loss and horror. Yet, they love these children as if they were their own–all the while dealing with their own stories.
It means that our daughter will have grief and hard questions that she should never have to ask.
There are two little boys, our Simeon and Judah, both born prematurely to us. Because of adoption, I’ve become well acquainted with mothers just like me in Congo who no longer have their children because of such high mortality rates of premature babies. And, through God’s grace, He has allowed me to personally understand the pain of childbirth.
Hope in the Brokenness
This world is broken. We all need hope. Is it hope that everything will be alright? Is it hope that in the end we can tie things up and make it look pretty? No. It’s the hope that we can offer a Savior to the broken world. That our hope is in Heaven and that we wait for it.
We share that hope with our broken world, our broken children, our own broken selves. That we can hope in the Lord who sees every tear of ours, every tear of our children, and every tear of the mama who no longer holds the child she birthed in whatever situation she was in. And this hope proclaims not one of those tears is wasted or goes unnoticed by Him. Our God doesn’t minimize the pain and sorrows of this world and these children, but He promises in Romans 8 that the hope we have in Him will be the balm to our earthly sorrows and pains we cannot comprehend.
This is the God we serve. This is the gospel. He has adopted us and continues to forgive us, pursue us, and refine us. He strips the idols of selfishness and self-sufficiency from our lives and allows our ultimatums to Him to expire, leaving us humbled that He hasn’t left us. It’s amazing. And it’s a blip of what adoption is continuing to teach us.
It’s not just for us. We’re all invited to put ourselves in a story somehow. Whether that is being a foster or adoptive parent, or coming alongside one to give them respite, help, or financial aid. Let’s not avoid it because of its hardships. That’s what Satan wants. The joys that God can bring from it are astounding.
*Images courtesy of The Archibald Project
Money shouldn’t be the reason a child doesn’t have a family.
We help families like Joel and Kristen’s bring their children home through interest-free loans, matching grants, fundraising support, and crowdfunding platforms. We’d be honored to partner with you to help bring your child home, too!