Our adoption journey was short compared to most, but it still wasn’t without its lessons. Besides becoming an emotional wreck at all times now, I have learned so much about myself through adopting. My faith feels like it hit a deeper level, and it’s honestly been the best thing for my walk with Christ and my marriage. Interestingly, things that marriage has taught me, adoption has also reinforced, so here are 7 major things I learned going through the adoption process.
1. I am able to feel two completely opposite emotions at the same time.
This sounds so contradictory, but it’s true. Our greatest joy, adding a child to our family, is another woman’s biggest heartache. Something so beautiful is also so broken. I would find myself crying happy tears for ourselves, yet also be crying sad tears thinking about the loss our birth families were feeling. Trying to express your double feelings can be hard and not everyone understands, but I think it is perfectly normal. There are so many layers and levels of adoption and you’ll get all the feelings when going through the process and even afterwards.
2. I constantly feel like I am playing the balancing act.
Trying to show the birth family love, but also giving them space is an ongoing balancing act. Wanting to be there for them, but also not wanting to be a reminder of what they are losing. Wanting to share your joy, but also being sensitive to their grief. This even goes past initially receiving your child if you have an open adoption. I am constantly wondering if I am reaching out too much, posting too much, etc. Then, there is the balance of sharing about our adoption journey. We try to be vulnerable, open, and honest about our journey, but we also have to be careful not to share too many details about such sensitive situations. It’s hard to try to find the balance, and I think it is something that will always be there with adoption. As Jubilee gets older, it will be a balancing act of what all we tell her at what age. I think it looks different for everyone’s adoption situation, and there’s not a one-size-fits-all rule to go by. Through prayerful guidance, we can do our best as parents on how to navigate her story.
3. This life is not about me or my happiness.
After wondering why God ever got us involved with Lowery’s (our first baby whose adoption fell through) life when we weren’t going to end up parenting him, I realized a very simple truth: this life is not about me. Of course I knew that already, but I really experienced that on another level through our adoption journey. Adopting was not about my happiness or about becoming parents for our own satisfaction. Being a Christ follower means being a servant of Christ. When God told an unwed Mary, who would surely face judgement and scrutiny, that she was going to carry the Son of God in her womb, she said, “Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word.” Luke 1:38. As Christ followers, we are to point people to Jesus and sometimes that looks like God calling us to do hard things we simply do not want to do. Did I want to give Lowery back? Never in a million years. But for whatever reason it was God’s Will that he return to his parents. God did and is still doing something through that situation for His glory, and I may not see that or understand that in this lifetime. “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the LORD. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.” Isaiah 55:8-9. The Bible never said following Jesus would be easy. In fact, it said it would be harder. So if you go through the adoption process, just remember it’s never really about you. God’s Will will prevail. Some of the most comforting words I received during the time of losing Lowery was, “When you can’t trace the hand of God, trust the heart of God.”
4. The Gospel and disciple-making is always the priority.
We are called to carry the Gospel and make disciples. Period. The Bible isn’t specific into what aspects of your life that applies to, so I think it is safe to assume that it applies to every area of your life, including your adoption. In adoption, sometimes disciple-making looks like being Christ to your children, and sometimes it looks like being Christ to the birth family. December 18, 2017, will go down in history as being one of the worst days of my life. Driving to give Lowery back to his birth mom was the most desolate, out-of-control I have ever felt. But as soon as I saw his mother, handed him back to her, and heard her say over and over again, “Forgive me, forgive me,” it was in that moment that I realized showing Christ’s love and grace were what was most important. How I felt wasn’t important, and the fact that I would walk away with my heart and arms empty were not important either. But showing her forgiveness, love, and grace as I handed sweet baby Lowery back was what took precedence. I couldn’t help but throw my arms around her and weep with her telling her it was okay and that we weren’t mad. What would she remember from that moment? Angry strangers or loving strangers? The Gospel was the priority. But now, we get the opportunity as parents to make the Gospel a priority to Jubilee. We get to disciple her so that she grows up knowing the truth about God, and we get to share with her how the Gospel is always the greatest matter of importance.
5. Our children are not ours.
The day we gave Lowery back, before giving him back, I jotted some notes in my journal. One of those simply said, “We do not own ourselves or our children.” I was trying to remind myself of this truth as I prepared for the worst. We forget this as Christ followers. I have already forgotten this with Jubilee. It’s so easy for my flesh to claim control over her. But everything we have is a gift, even the air we breathe, and that could be taken away in a moment. Our children, along with everything else in our life, should be on an altar as a living sacrifice to God. He entrusts us with them for just a little bit. “The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord.” Job 1:21.
6. It is so important to store Scripture in our hearts.
So many people’s adoption journeys have had their fair share of ups and downs. I have read countless stories online of the loss, the waiting, and the grief that have people have endured during their adoption journey. Psalms 119:9-16 talks about storing God’s Word in our hearts. When we have Scripture memorized and written on our hearts, we can rely on those truths to get us through the hardest of days. What kept me sane after losing Lowery was remembering what the Scriptures said about suffering. We wrote verses all over our mirrors in our bathrooms so that a day did not go by where we weren’t reminded of the hope we have in Christ in the future. All I could do in those following days of loss was cling to God and His truths. Those were some of the only things that brought me comfort and reminded me there was purpose in the pain. A few days after losing him, I wrote in my journal, “Your Scripture seems more real and relatable. We now share in your sufferings.”
7. Genuinely loving people.
This may be the biggest lesson I learned through adopting. Growing up as a Christian and attending church regularly for years, I heard a lot about loving people. But it wasn’t until I got into a situation where I had the opportunity to love such hurting people, that I fully understood what and how it looked to genuinely love someone. It’s about meeting people right where they are in their life–whether it’s together or not. It’s about lavishing the grace and steadfast love onto them that was first shown to us by Christ. I can say with whole-heartedness that we genuinely love and care about both Lowery and Jubilee’s birth parents. It’s easy to love someone who places their child with you; it’s another thing to love them when they take that child back. But for some reason it was easy to love them through it, and I think it’s called the grace of God. We chose love and understanding over anger. It’s about showing people love so that they may come to know Christ. We, quite possibly, were involved in Lowery’s life simply to have the opportunity to be Christ to his family and walk alongside them. And if so, what an honor it is that Christ would entrust us with this opportunity. “Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.” James 1:2-4.
Mindset is everything. After going through what we did during our adoption journey, I think it made us better parents. As cliché as it sounds, we literally do not take a single day for granted. We try to be more intentional with our time with Jubilee, and we are just so grateful for every milestone we are a part of with her. When we go through the adoption process again, I am sure there will be new lessons learned, but I hope to go in more prepared with these reminders.
-Lizzy, Adoptive Mom,
Works @Mustard Seed Adoption Consultants
You can find her on Instagram- @lizzyalignamath