By Barbara Rainey
First posted on EverThineHome.com
Like all new parents, Dennis and I welcomed our first four bio babies with joy and great anticipation for what God had planned. It was no different with our adopted daughter. We had equally lofty hopes and dreams for life with her.
Our story, like most adoptions, was marked by the unmistakable hand of God. An unexpected visit, a phone call, a hymn on the radio ... all signs of His guiding, preparing, orchestrating, and confirming His will for our lives as a family.
In those early years as an adoptive mom I learned that God has been adopting those who come to Him by faith for millennia (Ephesians 1:5)! A beautiful truth. And His heart for orphans is clearly seen in His Word. Psalm 146:9 tells us that God “upholds the widow and the fatherless,” and Jesus said, “I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you” (John 14:18).
But adoption is not only His plan for little ones needing a forever family; it’s also His plan for parents, siblings, and for the extended family of these grafted-in children.
Here are three more lessons I learned from the hand of God through the experience of being Deborah’s mom. If you missed the first three click here.
4. There is always hope as long as there is breath.
Every parent wishes and longs for formulas, guarantees, and the best skills to raise our kids. Often we look to human experts for our hope instead of God. No question He uses books and podcasts and seminars to give guidance and tools to His people. But it’s the nature of our hearts to find something more concrete that we can depend on than a God we can’t see or touch.
Like every parent before me I too looked to “experts,” even to other parents, to solve my parenting challenges. I thought, “If I can find the right therapy or parenting style, I can solve this.”
Again, nothing wrong with learning. It is crucial. Parents must work and pray hard … never give up … always believe the best … and give our kids everything we can. But we are broken and flawed humans in need of God’s grace and redemptive help. Only He can work the heart change He and I both desire.
One of the best resources available for adoptive and foster families today is the Christian Alliance for Orphans. Dennis and I helped found this organization in 2003 and I was a board member for over 10 years. I hope you’ll check it out but remember no one resource is guaranteed. There is no magic wand for parents of adoptive kids, foster kids, or biological kids. Period. Parenting is not a science, it’s an art!
God has taught me that my hope must be in Him alone. As we worked hard and prayed faithfully for our daughter, my hope was that our efforts would result in her learning all the important lessons by the time she was 18. Then I changed the age to age 20, then 21. Sometime in her early 20s I surrendered my hopes and desires to God and His timing. I said to Him one day, “God, You are in control and I am not. I will trust You with my daughter’s life. I will not waver in my belief in You and Your plan. Lord God, You know what you are doing.” As long as my child, or your child of any age, breathes there is hope. Your child is not yours but His.
5. Women are quick to believe and also quick to be deceived.
Over the decades of our parenting journey with all six of our kids I saw the reality of this truth about women. Often times I wanted to give one of our kids another chance because I believed in his or her goodness, yet Dennis, being more objective, saw our children differently. I was more “in love” with our kids and he more easily saw their sin nature. We were a good balance in this way.
Recently I’ve been trading messages with a mom of both bio and adopted kids. She talked about how one of their adopted sons had been and still was struggling mightily with his adoption. He was angry, breaking rules and blaming his adoptive parents for everything he didn’t like about his life as if everything was their fault.
This mom told me several awful and heart-breaking stories. As I listened it became obvious to me that her son was verbally abusing her and manipulating her. But she couldn’t see it. She felt she must not be doing enough. I remember feeling this because I believed in my child and I kept thinking if we try this technique or therapy or counselor our child will get it and all will be well at last.
Christian parents can often be the most gullible with our kids, bio and adopted. But I have learned the hard way that no therapy, essential oil, vitamin regimen, or learning style solves everything. None of these remedies are inherently wrong. But is your identity too wrapped up in your child’s success? Are you terrified of failure not just for your child but for yourself? Are you so determined to save your child that you are not hearing the whisper of the Lord?
This is a very hard truth to learn, so ask God to give you discernment and then listen to the leading of the Spirit and be united with your spouse in decision making.
6. God has plans and purposes that are beyond your imagining.
He loves your children more than you do and is fully capable of rescuing and redeeming them without your help. In fact, sometimes we hinder His working when we become hovering parents.
We have watched our adopted daughter’s life take twists and turns we couldn’t have anticipated. We have seen her faith mature with, at times, wisdom beyond her years. She has resolutely believed God in difficult circumstances. God is fully capable of executing His will without my help! He used us as parents, for that is His design for a season, but His working in her was not dependent on us.
Like Job, I have learned that I don’t have to understand what God is doing. The Lord gives and the Lord takes away (Job 1:21). He asks me to worship Him no matter what I experience and endure.
My duty in all seasons of life is to bow before Him and surrender. Romans 12:1-2 urges us to present our bodies “as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God ... Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind.”
My responsibility is to continue to believe He is good and in control. God’s job is to work “all things together for good” (Romans 8:28). He is fully capable. We must be willing to wait.
The most important work you can do for your children, adopted or biological, or your foster kids, is to be surrendered to Christ fully, daily, in every situation and circumstance. Over and over and over.
When you are surrendered to His plans and His work you will find rest for your soul.
And you will find, as I have, that God is enough!
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