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.
“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
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