Adoption wasn’t anything new to me when my wife and I set out to adopt our daughter. In fact, my entire life has been about adoption in some form or fashion. From being adopted myself, to being a foster family to several children as a child growing up, adoption has been one of the consistent themes in my life.
To be honest, I was probably almost arrogant as we began to really move forward in the process. Being adopted, I figured that I was more prepared than anyone to adopt a child. Don’t take this as I didn’t take the process seriously or that I didn’t try to learn all that was being thrown at us every step of the way. I did.
What I didn’t do was lose sleep, or worry about what we were going to do when our daughter came home. I was confident that it would work out.
Many others worried for us. One of the chief concerns was about adopting out of birth order. You see, when my wife and I traveled to China, we already had a biological son who was 23 months old. He was about to go from being the oldest to the youngest in just a matter of weeks. Again, my worries, unlike so many others, were nowhere to be found.
I knew we had this. Like I said, my experiences with adoption run as deep as anyone I knew.
Even on the day we boarded the plane bound for Seoul, South Korea, to connect to Guangzhou, I was more preoccupied by the thought of 13 hours in the middle seat of coach. To this point in our journey, I was only moderately connected to the adoption community. Blogs, Facebook pages and all the rest weren’t something I spent a lot of time perusing. My wife, on the other hand, was super plugged in. She had been chatting with people for months, pouring into their stories, as well as learning from what they had experienced. I only wish I had done the same.
When we arrived in China, nothing was as I expected. It was first world. Things weren’t hard to come by and traveling was easy (for the most part). The thing I assumed would be the most difficult, spending two weeks in a foreign place, became the easiest.
The rest of it was unlike anything I had ever imagined.
We met our Sadie Cai (pronounced like “tie”) at the Civil Affairs on Monday, March 9, 2015 in the afternoon. Sadie was not shy and it felt like there was a connection from the beginning. What I didn’t realize was that the connection had almost everything to do with “Mama” and very little to do with “Baba”.
While being too confident in my own abilities, I forgot to really do my homework. Sure, I read and watched all my agency told me to, but I forgot to account for things like culture. There aren’t a lot of male caregivers in China. When your child has spent half of their life in an orphanage being taken care of by females, there is an inherent skepticism that exists when you realize that in the presence of a male figure.
I wasn’t expecting that at all. I knew we would have to overcome a language barrier. I knew that there would be “emotional baggage” that comes from spending your early years as an orphan. I just didn’t ever stop to take the time and think that earning her trust would be more difficult for me than it was for her mom. All the evidence was there though, and it wasn’t just our daughter. It seemed as though most of the families we met, whether adopting a boy or a girl, were experiencing the same thing. While I found great relief in that fact, I couldn’t help but feel just a little bit helpless.
The great news is that it didn’t take long for those walls to come crashing down. After all, we serve a mighty God who does mighty things. He gave me the strength to be an unwavering provider to a spirit-filled little girl, and that little girl quickly opened her heart to me. It was perfect in every way and I wouldn’t trade any of it, outside of my own borderline arrogance in assuming that all adoption experiences are the same down to every detail. They simply are not.
Some thematic elements hold, but each experience is unique, even if adoption has already been a part of your story.
What can you expect from an adoption? I’ve been dwelling on that question a great deal. The best answer that I’ve been able to come up with is that adoption is much like the Hillsong Worship song Who You Say I Am. Four unique seasons that just seem to align so beautifully with that song.
Season 1 – The Orphan and The Unknown
Who am I that the highest King
Would welcome me?
I was lost but He brought me in
Oh His love for me
Oh His love for me
Season 1 is where your child began. Not knowing the King of Kings, either at all or knowing that He welcomes everyone, and it begins with “… the least of these…” Your child is yearning for that unconditional love of the Father and you have been called to bring him/her to it.
It’s among the highest of callings, adoption. It’s the same calling Jesus answered at the cross, when we all became the adopted sons and daughters of God.
Season 2 – The Adoption
Free at last, He has ransomed me
His grace runs deep
While I was a slave to sin
Jesus died for me
Yes He died for me
Season 2 is the moment you never forget. The curtain is pulled back and you see your child standing before. It’s powerful. The chains are broken. Grace and love overflow in every moment that proceed from that point and the freedom that Jesus gave us all on the cross begins to be realized by another son/daughter of God.
Season 3 – The Awakening
Who the Son sets free
Oh is free indeed
I’m a child of God
Yes I am
In my Father’s house
There’s a place for me
I’m a child of God
Yes I am
Season 3 will feel like the longest season, as your child awakens to the realities of the freedom they’ve received. They will begin to become to realize and take to heart the acceptance they’ve received from the Father, from the family, and from the support system that you’ve put in place around them. There’s a place for them to be the person God has destined them to become.
Season 4 – The Fulfillment
I am chosen
I am who You say I am
You are for me
Not against me
I am who You say I am
Season 4 is the fulfillment of all things. You will experience this right alongside of your child. It’s when you realize that you are chosen, you’ve never been forsaken and you are who He says you are.
One day you’ll wake-up and realize that you didn’t just bring a child home. Your passion, dedication, and willingness to defend the cause of the fatherless has inspired others to do the same. Maybe you inspired someone to adopt a child. Maybe you felt so passionate about adoption that you started an organization to support others adoptions. Maybe you blog about your experiences for the world to read. The options are limitless. No matter, you, along with your child will realize that you were chosen and He was for you all along. You are who He says you are and your child is who He says they are.
For all of you on the journey, my thoughts and prayers go with you. Be steadfast in knowing that the Father’s work is perfect in all that you are doing for Him. Know that He is for you, not against you, when things get tough. Know that you are called by name to serve His purpose and that you will not be forsaken. You have a supernatural power working for you.
Together, with all of us working for His glory, we continue to share His unending love with beloved sons and daughters, all over the world.
– guest post by Jeff