BY AMY CANTALINA
A child from outside a family becomes a part of a family. Forever.
The circumstances from which that child comes can vary immensely from one child to another. The essence, however, is the same in every case: the presence of both extreme loss and need. Loss of a birth family. Need for a stable, secure, loving, and warm forever family.
So the impact of adoption on the adopted child seems, clearly, good. Very good.
Many people advocate for children who need families, many people advocate for the cause of adoption and encourage other families to consider bringing these precious children into stable, loving homes. And I heartily encourage all of us to stretch our thinking, evaluate our families, and prayerfully consider this avenue for sharing our love, our home, our resources, our energy, our very lives with those who desperately need it.
But what I really want to talk about in this blog post is not the difference that adoption makes for the adopted child.
(Hope you don’t stop reading here…)
What I DO want to highlight is the difference it makes to the adoptive family.
My, oh, my, where to start?
When we began our first adoption journey over 5 years ago, I knew we would be blessed by the addition of a child. I knew we could make a difference to that child. But I had no idea how our adoptions would completely transform me, transform my marriage, transform each of my children, expand my thinking, and–most of all–thoroughly enrich my understanding of the gospel of Jesus Christ.
A major component of this transformation, however, has also involved loss and need. Not for our new child, but for the rest of us, for me.
Loss…of self-centered thinking.
Need…for extra measures of patience and grace.
Loss…of protective control over more of “my” time.
Need…to recognize that time is God’s gift to be invested in those most needful of it.
Loss…of dignity when a new child acts in ways that are less-than-desirable, especially in public.
Need…to give grace to said child and to any other parent seen in public struggling with behaviorally challenging children.
Loss…of any semblance of prideful self-sufficiency.
Need…to humbly ask for help when needed and accept it when graciously offered.
Loss…of control over the health and welfare of my children when facing serious medical trials. Need…to place my trust firmly in The Lord–whose ways are higher than my ways and who is able to do immeasurably more than I can ask or imagine.
Loss…of fears that I’m failing at this task of parenting, compounded with each additional child.
Need…to recognize that success and failure in parenting is not measurable except to judge the state of my heart as I nurture and love.
There is now a richness to our family that would never have developed without the miracle of adoption.
- A husband and wife who face each other wide-eyed in awe of the responsiblity before them, yet strong in the knowledge that they’re in this together, standing on a firm foundation that is bigger than either or both of them.
- A wife who sees in her husband a previously unnoticed tenderness and a generous heart willing to stretch his love.
- Older children who have taken on a new level of maturity in selflessly looking to the needs of younger siblings.
- A teenaged son who steps away from video games occasionally because he loves to make his littlest sisters giggle and shriek.
- A pre-teen daughter who has learned to open her heart, bucking her inwardly-focused nature.
- A family where dual language sentences are common and we have twice as many reasons to laugh at silly verbal expressions.
- A mother whose grasp of the depth of God’s love has deepened by considering the unfathomable gospel of Jesus Christ–that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us, so that we might be adopted as God’s children.
Adoption. It is good. The difference it makes is immeasurable.
AMY CANTILINA is an Air Force wife and mom to 4 precious kiddos — two conceived in her womb and two conceived in her heart, coming home to their forever family from China. She is a Jesus-lover, wannabe writer, endurance athlete, Bible study leader, and wears whatever other hats her family’s military lifestyle might bring along. She is being stretched by mothering through a wide range of ages and needs — high school through kindergarten, some with special medical needs or developmental delays.