The years the locusts have eaten
I never thought I would write an article on adoption.
I never thought I would adopt. I had never thought of adoption. And yet now I have an adoption testimony woven into my story.
A little girl, our daughter, brought naturally into our family through adoption. A daughter who now, ten years later, feels like mine in my heart as if I had given birth to her.
It wasn’t always like that.
That is why this is not my story or her story. It can only be God’s story and He always writes a good story.
As a young girl you dream of your future. A white wedding dress, a pretty house and being a mom are usually part of that self-written script. Adoption was never part of that plan.
Fast forward to 2007. I have given birth to three children. I am eighteen years into my marriage and am raising my two boys, aged 13 and 8 at the time. Two and a half years earlier we had sat in an ICU room watching our 8 year old daughter breathe her last breath after battling cancer. We are in a church where we are witnessing a few families adopting orphans. Interracial adoptions. God is at work. I just didn’t know it yet.
Then I get a phone call from a friend who is a social worker.
‘We have had a little girl on our books. She has been in a place of safety for a year after being with her biological mother for her first 6 years. If she is not adopted she will be going to a children’s home. The Lord has put you on my heart. Would you consider adopting her?’
That phone call is what God used in 2007 to write adoption into our story and into our family.
Adoption is what God chose to bring me to my knees and to the end of
myself and to open my heart to what His grace and love look like.
Our adoption of Mika Hope, aged 7 at the time, is what God used to remind me of who I am and His adoption of me. The knowledge that before God adopted me, I was worse than an orphan. I was his enemy, at war with Him. He didn't owe me anything. I was undeserving. God already had a Son. Yet He chose to adopt me out of His eternal love and good pleasure. God's adoption of me means that I am loved. I belong.
'The reigning king adopts a beggar to make a prince of him.' [Josh Mack]
We said yes. We would adopt her.
All we knew was that she was 7 years old and was mixed race. We had not seen a photo of her. We went through the required screening process and after a month she was in our home. She was ours. I was her mom.
On the second day that she was in our family she called me ‘Mommy.’
That one word, 'Mommy,' means 'forever' and it means 'I trust you to love me and protect me.'
That one word triggered in me such an overwhelming sense of responsibility that the reality of what we had done overtook me like a traumatic wave.
She was ours. We were now her 'forever family.'
What had we done?
Here was a little girl who came with the first seven years of her story written.
It wasn’t a good story. It was messed up. She was broken. She was a little
girl who needed a mommy. I was now her her mommy. Forever.
I was suddenly crippled with the vastness of what we had taken on that I didn’t want to be part of God’s script.
I remember on the third day of Mika being in our home, I collapsed under the weight of my own helplessness, fear and inadequacy and sat on our bathroom floor, sobbing. I phoned my friend and pastor’s wife, who had adopted, and admitted that I thought we had made a mistake. I admitted that I didn’t think I could ever love Mika as I love my biological children. I hated myself for thinking this.
My theology was elusive. My trust in God, absent.
This is what she said to me:
‘Love is patient. Love is kind…it is not arrogant or rude…it is not irritable or resentful…love rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends.’
Then she said to me that as I humbly apply those words from 1 Corinthians 13:4-7, I don’t need to worry about the love in my heart for Mika. God will grow that over time. As I choose to love, the feelings will follow. Those gentle words of truth calmed my anxious, faithless heart.
But it was still so hard. I am a slow and proud learner.
One day my husband’s gentle rebuke stopped me in my tracks. He told me that I was waiting for Mika to tick all my boxes before I would love her.
He reminded me that is not how God treats us and that is not what God did when He adopted us. God's love for us is not conditional. Those were hard words to hear. But they were the most wonderful words.
They were transforming words. They didn’t just transform the way I viewed Mika and related to her, they transformed how I viewed and related to my two boys. They transformed my parenting. They transformed my view of grace.
Russell Moore says: ‘It is not possible to talk about adoption without talking about the doctrine of adoption.’
Adoption is the Gospel. Adoption is mission, where we join Christ in advocating for the helpless and the abandoned and reminding ourselves that that is what we were before God's gospel of grace impacted our lives and captured our hearts.
Adoption isn’t charity. Adoption isn’t humanitarianism. Adoption is pure and undefiled religion. Adoption is showing Christ’s love in the same way we were loved. Adoption is about family with all the same sense of belonging and identity.
Adoption helps us understand the Gospel, display the Gospel and live the Gospel.
Josh Mack explains this Gospel perspective so beautifully:
‘We were the outsiders. Jesus was on the inside. Jesus went outside so we could be inside. Jesus stooped down to become our elder brother and He made it possible for us to become a son of God by becoming the Son of Man.’
After four months we went to fetch the legal adoption papers from the Court. According to the law, we were now recorded as Mika’s birth parents on her birth certificate, as if I had given birth to her. She received a new identity number and we could register her with her new name. Her previous identity was erased.
That is the beautiful principle of the promise in Joel 2:25: ‘I will restore the years the locusts have eaten.’ That is what God does when He adopts us into His family. He gives us a new identity, a new start. We are new creations, the old has gone. We have a new family where we are loved forever.
But what about identity and heritage? Common questions for interracial or cross cultural adoptions. Social workers will warn you that your adopted child is likely to have identity crisis issues.
‘Who am I?’ will be their struggle.
‘The Bible reveals though, that this crisis of identity isn’t limited to children who’ve been adopted.
All of us are looking to discover who we really are, whether we were born into loving homes or abandoned at orphanage doors, whether we were born into stable families or born, like our Lord, in a stable.’
So, as I look at my daughter today, that is what my heart sees. My daughter.
When did that natural mother love for her so grow in my heart?
I don’t know. It just did. God did that. God grew it in my heart when I wasn’t looking. When I was just trying, with the help of the Holy Spirit,
to love her, in my weakness and imperfection.
Every adoption story is unique. But every adoption story is planned by God. Adoption puts God’s glory on display.
A beautiful adoption testimony that illustrates this is that of Stephanie Fast:
Abandoned at the age of 7 to wander the war-torn Korean countryside, Stephanie Fast has a remarkable story of survival. She was persecuted and tortured because of her bi-racial ethnicity. Abused on the city streets and finally discarded by her mother and left to die on a garbage dump, Stephanie was rescued by a World Vision nurse and taken to an orphanage.
A few years later, a missionary couple visited the orphanage to adopt a baby boy. They met Stephanie, who was covered with boils and dirt, lice infected, worm ridden and cross-eyed from malnutrition. Stephanie was so dead emotionally that she rejected compassionate love. When the man touched her cheek, she spat in his face. They chose her. They chose to love her. There was nothing in her that made her lovely or loveable. They adopted her.
Stephanie’s personal testimony is one that demonstrates the sovereignty of God and the power of the cross in our lives. Today Stephanie runs Destiny Ministries which seeks to be obedient to God’s call to be a voice for the voiceless.
An organisation that seeks to place children from Haiti and those that are abandoned and hopeless and give them hope through transforming power and work of the Gospel.
When adoption supersedes culture and genes and physiology,
then adoption becomes about the Gospel and the beautiful
depiction of God’s love for us is gloriously displayed.
Is adoption messy? Of course it is.
But Christ entered into our world 2000 years ago to rescue us from our mess. He came to be rejected by His Father so we could be adopted by the perfect Father. He came to restore the years the locusts have eaten.
Would my life have been easier if we hadn’t adopted Mika? Probably.
Would it have been better? No.
Has this journey been hard? Yes.
Is it worth it? Absolutely.