Saying Yes to Giving Grace

April 5, 2018 adoption community, April 2018 Feature - Giving Grace, cocooning, first year home, local adoption support, local church, Newly Home, supporting adoptive families, Whitney 8 Comments

I knew when we stepped into life as a family who had experienced the gift of adoption relationships with other people would be different. I knew that some people understood the “why” behind our choice and some people didn’t. I knew that some people would understand the difficulties associated with living life with our child from hard places and that some wouldn’t.

What I didn’t know was that some of the deepest post-adoption hurt would come from the one place I thought would be the safest for me to be… my church.

Now, understand that when I say “church” I’m not talking about the Church–with-a–big–C. Church is the body of Christ all over the place. Church is in Texas and Mexico and Africa. Church-with-a-big-C is why we said “yes” to adoption; it’s being a part of God’s family, walking in obedience to His call, and allowing the Holy Spirit to move through you for the glory of God’s kingdom.

No, what I’m talking about is church with a little c. I’m talking about your local congregation where you worship on Sunday and maybe other times during the week as well. I’m talking about the people you live life with; the people you’re in community with. These people are like family, and as such, when there are hurts, the hurts tend to run deeper and impact us more strongly.

We came home with our daughter and quickly realized that the way our church-with-a-little-c did things in a way that presented some challenges for our family. We didn’t think much of this challenge during our cocooning time because honestly, all that was on our mind was letting this girl know we were trustworthy and safe. It was a full-time job.

The time finally arrived when we felt like we could ease back into a new type of normal, and that’s when we had to acknowledge the fact that our new normal was going to have to look different from our old normal. We could still be active in our church on a typical Sunday morning thanks to the effort that our Children’s Ministry has put into understanding and helping special needs families, but we couldn’t participate in the small group setting in the way we had before due to the dynamics our church encouraged for small groups.

We knew we needed to make changes to be a part of a small group, but they were changes that our church wasn’t able to address in a manner as quickly as we were hoping for. We felt frustrated, but knowing that life in smaller community is beneficial to our walk with Jesus, we didn’t give up trying to make it work.

Eventually, we connected with another family who was experiencing the same types of struggles in their own post-adoption world. We started to meet together in a much smaller setting, and after a while, presented our “mini-small-group” to some folks in our church leadership hoping that they would be on board with our desire to honor the leadership of our church, our desire to meet in community with others, but also our need to provide a safe environment for our children. Our group wasn’t typical, but we were excited about it and hoping others would be, too.

Some of the people we talked to were fully supportive, and some were not.

And, it hurt. A ton.

I’m not even going to lie here. It took a long time for me to deal with this. Every fiber of me screamed for understanding. I needed to be understood.
I needed our family to be understood.
I needed our daughter to be understood.
I needed for others in the church-with-a-little-c to see that even though it looked different, we were indeed living life in the Church-with-a-big-C in the way that we felt that God was calling us to.



Adoption had changed our family, and it had also changed our particular family could function in social settings. We wanted to be understood and in the middle of all of that hurt we felt completely misunderstood.

The story could end there. It could end with anger or bitterness or sadness simmering in my heart. But it doesn’t.

It’s no surprise to me that after weeks of fighting with the words to communicate the depth of feeling I have regarding this topic that the words would suddenly start to spring out of my heart in these days surrounding Easter. Grace, grace. God’s grace. Grace that covers us and our multitude of sins. Grace that chose to hang on the Cross even knowing what darkness my heart could hold on to. Grace that calls me, woos me, won’t let go of me. Grace that won’t let me simmer in the hurt which had morphed into resentment.

Anger and resentment have no place in a heart claiming Christ as Lord and so it has no place in mine. Jesus knows all about those people who caused us to feel misunderstood, and He loves them. He knows all about the hurt in our hearts and He loves us.

He loves. Period.

I found myself guilty of believing that other people’s empathy toward us was a prerequisite for their significance but it’s not. I was wrong and the recognition of my own wrong-ness has given room for forgiveness.

Truth be told, this is hard to share. The only reason I dare is because I know that there are others who probably have felt just as hurt by their local church-with-a-small-c.

Maybe the child with special needs you welcomed into your family hasn’t been welcomed into your church.
Maybe your child looks “normal” on the outside but struggles with the hurts which abuse and neglect have caused on the inside and your church doesn’t understand.

Friend, know that your church-with-a-small-c isn’t always going to get it right. They are people. Humans.

Just. Like. Us.

They will make mistakes. They may not be compelled to fight for our children in the way that we are and that’s okay.

Your church needs you. They need your child. They need your family. They need to see that adoption doesn’t look the same from family to family. They need to see you not give up both doing what’s right for your child and walking in obedience to God. They need to feel the grace they may not even know they need. You may be the only family they know who has obeyed to the call to adopt and they need to see this love lived out.

And you? You need your church! You need the community offered by others walking with Jesus. Don’t give up on your local church-with-a-small-c. Don’t fall prey to the lie that you can walk your faith on your own. They need you. You need them.

It’s possible that this will be tough, believe me, I know it possible. The saying yes to hard things doesn’t end once you’re home with your new child. There will constantly be new chances to follow Jesus in laying down your life for the sake of others. If that looks like showing grace when others in your church seem to not understand you, then so be it.

It’s a “yes” worth saying.

You will find yourself leaking out the icky stuff like anger while the good stuff like love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control fill you up to overflowing.

You’re okay with saying “yes” to hard things, and God will give you the grace to say “yes” to this, too.





8 responses to “Saying Yes to Giving Grace”

  1. Lisa says:

    I’ve been a part of wonderful And not so wonderful “churches” and community. I have had to accept some get it and others don’t. I’ve had support, I’ve had condemnation, I’ve had it all. I’ve learned one important truth, God sees it all. I’ve been planted into life and death by words and life circumstances. We all need to be bent towards God, not away and if our child’s brokrness brings us closer to God then it’s all worth it in the end. A safe life doesn’t always equal true freedom. Like my life, the trials have been enormous but God has kept me on my knees seeking after HIM. Someday, I expect to walk away from my possessions, my home, all of it to do life very differently. I’m in a season right now where God is preparing me for that change our family will go through. I’m looking forward to what God will do. My family grows but so does my desire to fully live for him. I personally feel church for me isn’t the local congregation, but instead as we move albeit slowly towards his will for our lives, I know church will become the entire world. Not everyone will ever understand that obedience to God will at times, bring conflict. And persecution. And others not getting it. I choose to serve God and love others and like you extend grace. But for us, we have chosen to walk for a time of home church most months as we are getting our needs directly from the one who can fully fulfill us. And we are thriving!

    • Whitney says:

      I completely agree that as time goes on conflict will increase. However, I also fully believe that the Church-with-a-big-C is how God is continuing to reach a broken world, and that being in community with others is so so important. I am thankful that your family is thriving! I pray you are able to walk with others as well in community and accountability, even if it doesn’t look traditional at all. Thanks for your comment!

      • Lisa says:

        Whitney,
        So true, as it’s said ” no man should be an island” BUT many people travel to an island to refresh. Nothing like a time of isolation to bring restoration to the soul. Church IS important but honestly, I wouldn’t now in hindsight look back at my Island time and wish it away!!! And in fact, I look back now and Thank God for it!!!! He has brought SO much beauty from the ashes. We are better for it! Maybe it’s just us, but not having a village or the ability to go to church, WOW did it bring us closer to Christ! Even Jesus himself at times was isolated. But no sweeter time in life then to be standing alone and yet realizing you REALLY aren’t as I and my family stood in the holy presence of God!!!! Knowing that he was stripping all the junk out of us, removing and pruning us down to the ultimate life of a true village of people who stand for and with and by us. And this community of ours are strong and faithful Christ followers who love us and our kids. Just hope people know, simple devoted small groups of people can be more amazing then a massive body of followers. Island time doesn’t need to be awful either as I found out, it can be a time of sweet fellowship with God and a time to refine and bring about massive change in such amazing ways! So while I love your post, I know Church can be wonderful BUT I also know for a time (ours was 4 years long..ugh) Island living, IS such a blessing!!!

  2. Louisa says:

    We’ve been through a lot on the church side with our adopted children…saying they totally back us in adoption but when the problems sits in their face and is messy…they ran. Had one elder tell us he couldn’t stand our kids….and it was evident he wasn’t the only one in that fellowship. It was painful…we became their project and they assigned people to step out and come our way but we heard their kids saying negative things to our kids like I really don’t want to be here and I can’t wait to leave. It left us all devastated, rejected so we decided to leave and we did church at home by ourselves and it was a lonely painful time. But…God has the last say and through a series of circumstances he led us to a church that has loved on our kids even when it is really hard. Our kids volunteer every chance they get and serve and they see their hearts and that has given them grace when they fall….it has been beautiful. My thoughts…don’t give up. We had people praying for us to find the right place and this church is everything we prayed for down to the details that were in our hearts. We are thankful for the journey even though it was hard….it prepared us for where we are now…and that is a good thing.

    • Whitney says:

      Oh, that breaks my heart to hear that you had such a painful experience. And yes, I totally agree with you. Don’t give up. Learning to show grace for me was the not giving up. We love love love our church enough to not let this one part of church life make us search for a different church; we have learned how to accommodate for our family and hope that others are encouraged by how we are doing things. Thank you so much for sharing your story here in this comment! It blesses me and others to see how others walk out their faith in community in the context of adoption and special needs.

    • Lisa says:

      In our case our church was overall fine, but our daughter couldn’t handle the environment, and out in the community we were attacked when people would come up to our daughter and ask her her name and she would screech in terror and not respond ( she is non verbal)…Even though we told them she was unable to talk, because she doesn’t look disabled they acted like we were the problem. We were condemned constantly out in the community by so many people as they demanded all their questions be answered about her. A few of our extended family were big issues too. They felt they could “fix” our daughter and that we just weren’t doing things right. None of the people getting angry had much if any experience but they were all “experts” 🙁 We gave all
      Of them grace knowing their ignorance but it was hard. We chose to step out of life overall. We stopped answering anyone’s questions. We stopped sharing period. It was lonely, yes…but surprisingly life became way better for us. Our previous life of being raked over the coals pretty much ended and we got to enjoy peace and grow closer to God at home in a safe place. We ultimately ended up adopting 2 more kids after our daughter and are now in the process of adding another daughter at the end of the year. I’ve learned sometimes for me, giving out grace is knowing the majority of people don’t get things and trying to explain to them takes precious time away from our family. It’s not my place to educate the masses , I’ve learned this hard lesson. I am happy to answer the people who genuinely are interested in adoption and filtering out the nosy ones. But I am learning it’s not all bad to be at “home” more and do church at home. It’s possible to learn more at home in an environment where God is the entire focus and not people’s curiosity of my kids being the focus. I love church but I also know I can do either and finally be content. I also know I have great friends who has stuck with us through the ups and downs and that community IS more then just a church building and grace can also be extended to my family too!! 🙂 And that grace is knowing when to say ok it’s time to step into church or it’s time to step out of church. With a bigger family now..it’s the biggest freedom I know. To say it’s ok to worship God in whatever way works at the moment. At home, in church, wherever. And that Grace is for all! It’s SO nice to be able to choose our path and know that we only need to answer to God for our lives and our choices. And Can I honestly say, we have sooo much freedom now, with less community. We were way more isolated in the masses of community we once had then we are in very specific small groups of amazing people who we can be ourselves with! Liberating! To think LESS everything would be more freeing then having it all!!! We Thank God that a hard and isolating time with our daughter taught us such an invaluable lesson that life can be MORE fulfilling and sweet and harmonious with LESS people, LESS stuff, LESS in general. Just so freeing and savoring how LESS has brought us the biggest joy and biggest blessings. Why our road is heading in an entirely different way and we are so EXCITED!!!!! Praise God!!! To keep just the important people and things in our lives has set us on a coarse for true happiness and an Ben closer relationship with God. Because what’s in our life now, whose in our life now, it all REALLY matters! These precious people REALLY matter! Amazing!!!!

      • Whitney says:

        Love this. Thank you. Your path has taken you on ups and downs and is beautiful.

      • Whitney says:

        Lisa… I also just wanted to add that the idea of a smaller community being better sometimes really resonates. We are the same. Still have community and accountability, but on a smaller scale. It’s perfect.

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