The gospel is not the picture of adoption….adoption is the picture of the gospel.
The orphan crisis in Africa has flamed the hearts of our son Troy and his wife Stevi who are now in the process of adoption. Last week Stevi posted the following article on their adoption website – ethiopiatoaustin.com – which includes a truth we should all keep in mind. I pray it blesses you as it blessed me!
Hard Truth – by Stevi Schuknecht
It’s always interesting to field questions people ask when they find out we’re adopting. Mostly, peoples’ reactions tend to range from “I am totally excited for you! I love adoption and orphan care!” to “I am worried you are making a huge mistake! Do you know how hard this could be? It may not be worth it!” While people rarely actually state the latter opinion in those words, we have been told, “You know, I had a friend who adopted….it tore their family apart,” or “you know those kids can have so much baggage…”
I am not complaining. Ultimately both responses show us that people care about us. At best they are totally behind us, but at worst are just worried about us and want us to be fully informed.
Of course, by now, we have heard horror story after horror story of disrupted adoptions where children had to be placed elsewhere after miserable months or years, failed adoptions (parents returning home with empty arms after months in another country), resources being strained and drained, stress on adoptive parents’ marriages, etc. In fact, many of the difficult stories we have heard were told to us in required training we completed as part of this process, as if to warn us up front that this may turn out to be a really difficult, really taxing, and at times we may wonder if this we were crazy to adopt in the first place.
The truth is, we realize that this adoption may mean a lifetime of sacrifices that are uncomfortable for our family. We realize it may be the hardest thing we’ve ever done. And we ARE scared. We pray daily that our son will integrate into our family without attachment problems. We pray that he will somehow find his identity in Christ when his sense of identity will most certainly pose challenges for him. We pray that he won’t feel singled out, and our biological children won’t feel ignored, or singled out because they have an adopted brother. We pray that God would prepare us to have intuition and patience, grace and wisdom to do something we have never done before: parent a child from a different country, with “baggage.”
We are hopeful that God will answer our prayers. We certainly know He hears them. However, we know that He does not guarantee happy endings (at least until we reach heaven). We may be choosing to suffer along with our son for rest of our earthly lives. And while we feel wholly inexperienced in how to do that, we are at peace with the prospect. We know adoption isn’t necessarily roses and smiley faces. We know that it may be years before our son loves us back. We know that his suffering up to the point of coming into our home may cause him scars that will follow him all of his life. And though we are asking God to spare him the consequences of his suffering, we know that God doesn’t always do things the way we think He should.
I read a blog today entitled “God Does Not Owe Us a Happy Ending” by Tim Challies. I encourage you to read it, for I think it says what we all know to be true in our experiences, but many are afraid to say. It ends like this:
“We all desire happy endings to our suffering. Of course we do. But God does not owe us a happy ending and he does not owe us the answers. At times he chooses to give one or both. At other times he does not. Some day these things will make sense and and in that day we will acknowledge that God has done what is right. But until then, it is faith in his character and in his promises that will sustain us far more than a happy ending.
For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord.
For as the heavens are higher than the earth,
so are my ways higher than your ways
and my thoughts than your thoughts (Is. 55:8-9).
Though the fig tree should not blossom,
nor fruit be on the vines,
the produce of the olive fail
and the fields yield no food,
the flock be cut off from the fold
and there be no herd in the stalls,
yet I will rejoice in the Lord;
I will take joy in the God of my salvation. (Hab. 3:17-18)”
For us, the choice to adopt in some ways opens us up to the possibility of an “unhappy ending.” But if that is the case, we will ask for faith to embrace the reality we all must face: that God is God, and we trust Him not because of our comfort, or the ease of our circumstances, or the perceived blessings He offers, because in the end, we all know that some endings are not happy. We trust Him because though His blessings are sometimes offered in very unwelcome packages–sometimes very large burdens we must bear, we know that following Him in the valley is ultimately where His goodness shines most brightly.
A powerful 3 minutes You Tube Video: The Global Orphan Crisis