Adoption: An Unexpected Journey

by Lauren Kelly

In 2007, I took my first trip to Africa to work with impoverished children. While I was there, the Lord gave me a precious friendship with a toddler named Mwadeni.  He had been left by his parents in a village to be raised by neighbors. He was not being treated fairly and was often abused for wetting his pants.  Knowing this kind of injustice began a deep love for the orphaned and “forgotten” child. The Lord gave me a clear calling that summer to adopt one day. As a single person, I prayed for my husband to have a heart for the orphaned children in Africa and couldn’t wait to see how God would answer this prayer for me. Surely, I knew exactly what God had planned, and I would be back in Africa one day to adopt a precious, little baby.

Adoption, at that time, was glamorous to me. I pictured rocking a baby to sleep every night and dreamed about the advantages the baby would have because God chose me to be his or her new mom. I thought about how beautifully our story would reflect the gospel of our own adoption by a Father who called us His own and was committed to us for eternity. I thought about how I would always be linked to Africa – a place I loved so dearly.

God was molding my heart toward adoption way back then, but I didn’t dream my children would belong to my husband and his first wife.

I didn’t dream my children would have lost their mother after two years of illness, and have memories of her I would, essentially, “compete” with for a lifetime. I didn’t know my children would be too old for me to rock them to sleep and share middle-of-the-night-feedings and smiles. I didn’t dream that, at times, my children would look at me and wish they had their “other mom” back.

So, what do I do with this new spin on adoptive mothering?

Many days, I have felt sorry for myself and have drowned in the realities of my own losses. Holidays will always be bittersweet. I am not their only “mother” to celebrate on Mother’s Day. While I understand their pain, after long days of intentional parenting, it still hurts me to hear, “I miss my other mom.” Every August, we do “All About Me” projects for school, and I am not in most of their pictures or memories. I have missed a lot, and I will never get it back. It hurts. It feels lonely. It is not what I dreamed of. It is not “normal.”

What I have come to realize, through this pain is, our family was not meant to be “normal,” because that is not the way God planned to use us best.

In the Bible, we rarely see accounts of “normal” people. We see Job, losing his entire family, and yet, praising his Creator. We see Noah, building an ark for the flood God prepared him for when it had never even rained before. We see Hannah, suffering through the pain of infertility and being harassed by her husband’s other wife who had plenty of children…seemingly easily.

Why would God choose to share these stories with us about these “abnormal people?”

God is kind to share such stories of pain with us, because He knows the brokenness each of us will encounter in this world.

He wants us to see life NOT as a normal story to endure, but as an adventure to take with His help. Each of the stories I mentioned end in beautifully redemptive victories, though the people involved didn’t know the end results during their pain and confusion.

Job didn’t know God would bring everything back to him – plus more! Noah didn’t know exactly how God would restore the world after the flood, eventually sending the Savior through his own family line. Hannah didn’t know God would bring her a precious son. In my points of weakness, I don’t know exactly how God will bring our story “together for our good” as Romans 8:28 promises.

I must trust the heart of the God I know to bring beauty from our ashes.

We all have pain, loss, and unfulfilled expectations. The good news is, we have full access to the One from whom peace is given in the hard times – the times we want whatever we think “normal” is. I cling to the promise that my family will triumph in and through this adventure, if we accept God’s plan for our lives, choosing to walk in the confident hope we are well-loved and have great purpose.

Mother's Day

“But rejoice in as much as you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when His glory is revealed.” 1 Peter 4:13

Lauren Kelly

*Thanks for stopping by today! Feel free to relax, pull up a chair, grab your coffee, and stay a while. Check out our previous posts, and stay tuned for more to come! We love hearing from our readers in the comment section below, on our Facebook page, and on Twitter @missionalmother. You can also visit our “contact” page and connect with us via e-mail! Have a blessed day!


  1. Heather Adams says:

    Beautifully said Lauren. They will rise up and call you blessed, I am sure of it. I know this has to be why God doesn’t ask our opinion on things because we would definitely tell him on the front end “Lord, you have the wrong girl”. I can’t do this job you have entrusted to me but he says but you can with me. Love you friend!

    • Lauren Kelly says:

      Thank you all so much for your encouragement! I am thankful the Lord is using our story to sharpen and encourage others through their own pain. He is good!

  2. Missi says:

    Sweet Lauren, how I love to hear of God’s unfolding plans He has for you. I have been sharpened through each new season I see God allow you to walk through as you continue to faithfully trust & obey Him. Thank you for that! Love you!

  3. Leah Evanson says:

    Thank you for sharing your perspective in this area. God always sends messages in the right season!

  4. Betsy says:

    Thank you Lauren, your simple words of truth have inspired me so much!! I lost my mother to cancer on march 24 this year:( all I could think of was this wasn’t suppose to be this way but it was. At the same time I was faced with a very misunderstood struggling teenager. All I could think of was this isn’t normal. This was not suppose to happen. It’s the adventure I’m taking with him that is exciting and assuring that it will be the best with him!!! Normal is overrated. I like abnormal!!! Thanks for that!!!! God can bring beauty from ashes. Surely, he can take care of my family ❤

  5. Jennifer says:

    What a beautiful story, and what an answer to prayers you were (are!) for your hubby and those beautiful babies. I remember praying for your husband and those beautiful babies~one of things being that the Lord would have His way in all of their lives and restore to them a family. I have never met you (I graduated with your husband), but I have loved witnessing these prayers being answered before my very eyes on social media. You are a gift to them, Lauren, as I am sure they are to you.

    The Lord be with you all. 🙂

  6. Sophie says:

    You are an amazing gift to your three wonderful kids. What a beautiful, honest, account of the adventure you’ve been through. Who cares what the perceived “normal” is anyways? Even the most generic and “normal” looking family can be so secretly disfunctional. God certainly had a plan when he introduced you into your children’s lives. I love you, cousin!

  7. Dianne Dougharty says:

    Lauren, I am so grateful God chose you to be the mommy of these three treasures! I once desired “normal.” Then I looked up the definition of normal and it became clear that God does not call us to “normal”, and how boring “normal” is! I love you and I am proud of the mommy you are. You are a gift to Sam and a gift to those of us who have prayed for you and been able to call you friend! God has great days of sweet memories ahead!

Leave a Reply