“Why don’t you look like me, Daddy?”
“When did I come out of your tummy, Mommy?”
“Why did my “real” Mom not want me?”
“So, you are still my real parents, or are they my parents?”
“Will you ever leave me?”
If you are an adoptive father or mother, questions like these from your child are inevitable, and no matter how well you plan your answers, a child’s heart and awkward curiosity are never predictable. Some questions and thoughts will be easy to answer and discuss, while others will be challenging and require tenderness and patience beyond your abilities.
I remember the first time my father sat on the floor across from me and told me how he and my mom became my parents. It sounded loving and very genuine at the time, but I needed some time to really process it all. It is a lot to take in when you discover your adoptive parents are not your biological parents, in light of the obvious racial and ethnic differences.
I admit that I struggled at times with the differences. Sometimes I even wondered what life would be like had I never been adopted just so that I would not have to go through the difficult parts of my adoption journey. Looking back, I regret having those occasional feelings as a young boy as my parents were just as much involved in the journey as I was. Still, my parents showed a lot of grace and loved me through the process of understanding and discovery. I remember my father spending hours talking to me and reaffirming his dedication and love for me and my other adopted siblings.
You see, every story has a beginning. Like any adopted child, I wanted to identify with and know my story. For me to truly discover my unique story was to begin to accept how our Heavenly Father identifies, loves, and embraces each one of His children, whether or not they have biological parents.
Galatians 4:4-7 says, “But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law so that we might receive adoption as sons. And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father! So you are no longer a slave, but a son, and if a son, then an heir through God.”
I, too, was spiritually orphaned like every person on earth. When I realized this, I finally cried out deep within me, “Abba! Father!” This is what I was made and crafted to do!
Despite the need to identify with my adoptive parents, I was grateful for a father and mother who would love me on this earth. However, my greatest desire was to be loved by my Heavenly Father. I wanted to affectionately embrace God who made me and how he perfectly ordained my life circumstances through adoption to bring Him glory.
Embracing my story meant finally letting go of what I could not change and being at rest with the circumstances God had ordained from eternity past. I repented of selfish thought and sought contentment with His perfect provision for me. It meant asking my Heavenly Father to wrap His arms of grace around my life through the care and love of my earthly parents.
Even now, I am still amazed by God’s adoption of me. I know that my earthly adoption is temporary and is a journey to knowing God’s adoptive eternal love for His children.
If you are an adoptive parent, help your children embrace your family’s story that is uniquely crafted by God’s mercy. Encourage them to see the story in light of God’s eternal story of redemption, God as Father. Give them freedom to explore their past and even ask uncomfortable questions while fellowshipping with others who are on the same journey of discovery. Allow your children to see you only as an instrument of grace God wants you to be. God the Father is the Hero and Rescuer, and He always loves to provide generously!
Steven was adopted from Korea through Holt International when he was 9 months old. He is now an ambassador for the Gospel of Jesus, urban missiologist, and advocate for global orphans. He graduated from Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary and he lives with his wife and daughters in Birmingham. You can follow him on twitter.