04 Feb Thankful for Adoption
Dinner time conversations are often lively and humorous in our home, and one of my children recently shared over a meal that he was thankful for two things: love and bacon. We laughed at his candor, and his 7-year-old way of expressing gratitude, but when it was my 8-year-old’s turn to share, her response required no thinking and it wasn’t humorous: “I am thankful that I was adopted, and I am thankful that I have a family.”
Our adoption story was not one of rainbows and butterflies where we just “knew” we were supposed to grow our family this way. We had three (young!) biological children when God called us to be foster parents. We never doubted the call to foster, nor did we waver in our willingness to move forward. We did all of the things to get licensed and started communicating with our children. I felt ready to be the “middle mama”—a place of stability for a temporary season. But, as has happened in many ways throughout our lives, God’s plan for our family was very different—and greater—than that which we could see.
We spent many months praying, and asking our friends to pray, that a forever family would be found for the little girl we were fostering. We felt like we knew a lot about what she needed which we couldn’t offer, what our biological children needed that couldn’t be provided if our family permanently grew this way, and what we needed in our marriage and as parents to be able to faithfully live our lives. As it turns out, we were wrong about all of those things. God gently and patiently revealed to us that the family we were praying for was actually our own.
“God gently and patiently revealed to us that the family we were praying for was actually our own.”
In June of 2016, after 18 months of being foster parents to a young girl, she became our forever daughter. This significant marker in her life and ours continues to be something that I learn from daily. Because she came to us as an older child, she has memories of life before she entered foster care and before she was adopted. The trauma she experienced early in her life continues to impact her in a lot of ways. But, in spite of the negative effects of childhood trauma, one thing it has done for her is given a heart of gratitude for those things which our other children have always taken for granted.
I am thankful for adoption.
Through adoption, God has taken me on a journey where I was forced to face my illusion of control and lay it aside for hope in a Father who knows what I need before I even ask. He has shown me those areas of my heart that were so wrapped up in my world of comfort that I was unable to have an eternal perspective. He has reminded me that I don’t have to have all of the resources in place to be able to continue in obedience because his power is made perfect in my weakness.
My daughter’s past causes her to struggle with trust sometimes. She is grateful for family, and yet she often reverts back to self-protection for fear that the blessings of our home will not always be there. In those times when I am consumed by my own selfishness, I begin to feel frustrated that she would struggle to trust me when I have been a consistent, faithful, and loving figure in her life. And then, God reminds me that I am exactly like her. He is consistently consistent in his love and provision for me and yet I am in need of new mercies each day because I struggle with doubt, fear, worry, a discontented heart. Every time the day in and day out of directing her young heart towards truth begins to feel like drudgery, I am reminded of what God has done for me, and what he continues to do for me. He faithfully, consistently loves me. His mercies are new every day.
“I was forced to face my illusion of control and lay it aside for hope in a Father who knows what I need before I even ask.”
That last two years have given me a fresh appreciation for what it means to have a new name and a forever hope. In fact, when our daughter was adopted, we changed her middle name to Hope. When she gained a family, it gave her a hope that she did not previously have. Likewise, we are given a new name and a new hope through Jesus, and we are called children of God!
Adoption has been a greater blessing to my family than I could have ever imagined. The world sees our obedience to this as a blessing we have provided to a child, and yet our experience gives us a perspective that is much more robust than that. This blessing was never about our goodness—in fact, God had to open our eyes to a work he was doing that was greater than we could have known. Adoption grew my family in number, but it also caused me to grow in my awareness, appreciation, perspective, and humility, among other things. All of those things that I feared I would not be able to do or provide were true, but they always were. The recognition of my dependence has been a powerful and freeing thing. And my heart has grown in ways beyond my imagination!
-Natalie Patterson, Spartanburg Campus