Excitement, curiosity and fear of the unknown filled the eight year old boy’s mind as he entered the cold, stale room. His eyes landed on some smiling faces that looked vaguely familiar. Yes, these were the same faces that had smiled at him from the pages of the photo album he carried in his backpack, the faces of his new family. Who were these people that looked so different from him? Would they be kind, or heartless, as he was told? Would they send him back the moment he did something to upset them? Would they like him, maybe even love him? Wait, what were they saying? If he couldn’t understand them, how would they understand him? In that moment, as reality set in, uncertainty and excitement gripped him. When he looked in their eyes, he knew all would be ok. What could he do but follow them and leave all he had ever known and loved behind for a new life, a new family, a new world. In that moment of anxiety and anticipation, he simply had to believe that they would love him.
It’s been two years since that cold January day in Shanghai, and my sweet boy has finally begun to truly understand our love. We are not going to send him back when he is disobedient. No one is going to take him away from us. He will be ours FOREVER.
The process of attachment is a rugged journey. My son was with his foster family in China from about the age of 2 until we adopted him at age 8. I can only imagine how it must have felt to be ripped from the only family he has ever known and how confusing that must have been. Why did they let him go? Why didn’t they keep him? Is it normal to be passed from one family to another? Can it happen again? Could the government take him away? He has asked us all these questions and more as he has been processing his journey to us, his forever family. He is no longer afraid to share his experiences and feelings or divulge what he felt that very first day. Sometimes, even at the age of 10, he wants to be held like a baby and rocked while asking over and over, will you love me forever?
While these questions make my heart ache for him, they are questions he needs to ask and are a part of the attachment process. He didn’t ask them in beginning. It was all too new, and there was so much he didn’t understand. Fear coupled with excitement, but as time passed he began to trust us and our love. He realized that the decisions we make concerning him stem from our unconditional love for him and our desire for the best. As his understanding and love grows, so does his courage, and as the questions come I welcome them. As I hug him for the 15th time today, reassuring and physically demonstrating love, my thoughts turn to the One who has wrapped me up in His arms more times than I can count.
“The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship. And by him we cry, ‘Abba, Father.’ The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children. Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory.” (Romans 8:15-17, NIV)
Reflecting on my sweet boy’s journey of understanding and attachment, my thoughts naturally draw the connection between his adoption and my own spiritual adoption. What can I take from my experience and apply it to the journey of earthly adoption, especially as we prepare for our third adoption?
Once we believe and trust in God, we become adopted as sons and daughters. We are co-heirs with Christ! We are children of God! Do we really understand what that means? We believe that God loved us so much that He sent His one and only Son to die in our place, but do we really BELIEVE God, His promises and forever love?
Did my son truly grasp that cold winter day in China what it meant to have a forever family? He didn’t know much about us, but he trusted us enough to follow us, strangers from an unknown land, out of that room because he believed we were his new family. In that moment, he knew we would not hurt him, but did He really BELIEVE in and understand our love? Of course not! There was a long journey ahead.
Similarly, as we begin our walk with our heavenly Father, we believe in Him and hear words like “God loves you”, but do we really BELIEVE that? We begin a journey of discovery and understanding just as our precious older children do. Over time, our eyes are opened to His truth, and we finally come to a place where we truly BELIEVE that He is who He says He is and that He will keep His promises. Do we still sometimes question Him and struggle to understand? Of course! How many times have we doubted even when we knew that God is faithful and trustworthy? Too many times to count. But as we witness example after example of His love and provision for us, our faith and understanding of His unconditional love grows exponentially. We begin to see that even though we won’t always understand all that He does, His love is unwavering and unfathomable.
Our adopted children experience life up to a point and then are suddenly ripped away from all they have ever known. Can we walk unwearied with them as our Father walks with us through our doubts and fears? Are we ready to traverse the confusing waters of abandonment? Can we be as patient with our children as our heavenly Father is with us? Will we hold them when they just need to held?
God made a way for each and every one of us to be adopted, and then He gave us this amazing picture and reminder through the example of earthly adoption. As I look at my son on those days when I am frustrated and tired of answering the same questions again and again, I pray that the Holy Spirit will remind me again of the beauty of my adoption and the gentle, patient, never-giving up love of our awesome God.
~Guest post by Suzanne
Older Waiting Children
To learn more about any of these children who wait contact the Advocacy Team.