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Seeing More of God by Adopting a Teenager

The joy left my home. For a year? Two Years? I’m not even sure how long it was- it’s all a blur.

My home- my joy-filled, restful, peaceful, put-together home- had become a warzone. Every day was a series of battles. In. My. Home.

And yet, God was in it all. He was showing me more of Himself in all of it. He showed me things I never would have learned had I not walked down this path. And for that I am thankful.

Our Family Forms

Let me back up. Six years before bringing a teenager into our home from foster care, my husband and I adopted a sibling group of three toddlers. I had always wanted a large family and it took time to grieve the news from a fertility doctor that we likely would not have biological children.

God quickly opened our hearts to the idea of adoption and specifically to adopting children who were in foster care. As we began to learn about the foster system, two demographics of children were regularly waiting to be adopted: sibling groups and teenagers.

Our hearts were quickly drawn to the sibling groups. After all the classes and paperwork, we brought three toddlers into our home- a 3-year-old girl and twin boys who were 17-months old.

Life was chaos for a few weeks, maybe even a few months, but I felt like God had prepared me for this. It was hard, but I ran a tight ship; I got the kids and the home under control; and we had the family I always wanted.

Que the music! “Praise God from whom all blessings flow!”

A Seed Was Planted

During that time, God planted another seed that wouldn’t sprout for several years. I’m sure in hindsight it’s because God knew that I wasn’t ready for what He had to show me.

I remember in one of our licensing classes for our first adoption, they had a discussion panel with five teenage young ladies sharing their life experiences growing up “in the system”. My heart broke for them as I heard their stories. I just wanted to bring them into my home and love them and care for them and show them a better life.

God truly gave me His heart for these ladies. The seed was planted. I just had no clue that God’s plan in all of it was to show me more of Himself.

The Honeymoon- “I’m All In”

Six years after adopting our first three children, we met her. She was almost 15 years old and looked like a shy little kid. My husband and I met her at a park and walked around a trail together. Our collective memory of that day is that I TALKED A LOT! I had so many questions. I wanted to get to know her. I wanted to love her. I did love her. God had given me a love for her before I even knew her.

This wasn’t an interview for me. I wasn’t deciding if we would adopt her. I was just getting to know my new daughter. And she seemed to reciprocate.

We “dated” for a few weeks. We introduced her to our other children. We went out to eat. She came to stay with us for a few weekends. And then, we all took the plunge together.

The first few weeks were great. We went shopping (my love language!) to get her new clothes, decorations and furniture for her new room, and all kinds of things that she needed. She had arrived in our lives with a plastic bag full of clothes and in a matter of weeks, she lived in a nice house, with a nice family, a new wardrobe, and a room of her own.

Que the music? Not yet…

Lines Drawn

I can’t tell you how it all started to unravel. I just know that it did.

I can’t tell you everything that was going on in her mind and heart, because I am still trying to figure out my own responses in it all.

But lines were drawn. Between me and her. Her and the other kids. Between my husband and I. Honestly, it was everywhere. I didn’t know who I could trust.

We had therapists, a church family, an extended family, social workers- a massive support system that wanted to see this work.

But none of them could really know what was happening in my home. None of them could really know what was happening in my heart.

“I Want Out!”

There were a few moments, seasons really, that I just wanted out. I wanted to go backwards. I wanted to return to the calm before the storm. I wanted my life back; my joy back; my peace back.

When we met our daughter, she was waiting for adoption. After a few months, the only thing left for the adoption to proceed was for my husband and I to sign the papers to adopt her.

I couldn’t do it. I couldn’t sign them. The confidence I had before was gone. I wanted out. I wanted out now.

But I’ve learned that faith doesn’t work like that. The lessons come as we take steps forward in faith.

The Heart of God

God began to remind me of passages that I learned in my previous hardest times- surviving military deployments while my husband was in Iraq then Afghanistan. And as I returned to these Scriptures, I began to see the heart of God. And I began to see that He was teaching me something. He wanted me to know Him more. He wanted me to know more of Him and less of me.

Here is perhaps my favorite verse from that season:

But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore, I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” (2 Corinthians 12:9-10 [ESV])

Still Not Perfect

My daughter and I have come a long way. We’ve since adopted her fully into our family and she has legally been our daughter for five years now.

Our relationship today is better than it has ever been, but it still isn’t perfect. She still has a lot of hurt and brokenness to process through in her past. She still has a lot to catch up on in life coming from the background she has.

And I still have a lot of growing to do. I am still selfish more often than I’d like to admit. I still want peace and quiet instead of a two-hour conversation after a long day. I still need more of the heart of God.

Que the music: “When peace like a river attendeth my way; When sorrows like sea billows roll; Whatever my lot, thou hast taught me to say, It is well, It is well, with my soul.”

What About You?

Why have you read this entire article? What is God doing in your life?

If God is drawing you into foster care or adoption, please know that this is a spiritual battle that you are entering. It is not for the faint of heart. But it is worth it.

If you stay the course, and cling to the Lord, He will show you more of His heart for hurting people. He will show you more of Himself. He will show you how amazing He has been to save a wretch like you and me.

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