What a Failed Adoption Taught Me About Grace

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I couldn’t believe it. I was looking at an ultrasound picture of the baby girl we were going to adopt! This little girl would round our family out to the magic number of four.

Ever since a friend of a friend of a friend had miraculously connected my husband and I with a fourteen-year-old girl who was pregnant and looking for potential adoptive parents, this seemed destined for us. As I looked at her black curly hair, contagious smile and bright blue eyes, I realized a baby girl who looked like her would even look like she fit into our family.

I remember immediately shaking when in an initial conversation the birth mom told me the name of the home for pregnant teenage girls she was going to. My husband and I already had our paperwork on file to adopt internationally with them! We would just need to move our paperwork to a domestic adoption (which we quickly did!).

Yet, in the last month of pregnancy, the girl chose another family to adopt her baby. My world stopped spinning and I found myself in a fog of hurt and anger. Hurt that my little boy who wanted a sibling so badly was never going to experience the joys of having one. Anger that God took us through YEARS of adoption paperwork, only to end up paying off an adoption that never happened. And anger at myself, for loving a baby I had never met.

IS THIS MY FAULT?

Without realizing how deep my anger ran, I become jaded when I thought about God’s love and grace. I couldn’t see that my anger toward God was affecting my relationship with Him. Little by little, I believed the lies that, “I wasn’t good enough,” and “I must have messed up somewhere, because this is my punishment.”

Two years after that failed adoption, I brought all of my hurt with me when we moved to Oklahoma City. We decided to foster-to-adopt and, after much training, were matched with a brother/sister sibling group. We started having them stay the night for trial visits. The boy was going to share a room with our son, and the girl would have her own room.

After one rather rough visit, our son mentioned to us some conversations he had with the boy, leading us to pray earnestly for wisdom in how to proceed. After much prayer and wise advice from friends and mentors, we decided to walk away from that adoption. With that failed adoption came more hurt and pain, not only for the children who would remain in foster care, but for the understanding that growing our family through adoption was not going to happen. It was the final chapter in our adoption book, and we felt like failures.

FINDING GOD’S GRACE

I don’t share our story for you to pity us; rather so you can see God’s grace woven throughout. See, the verse that I had jotted down in my journal at the beginning of our adoption journey was Isaiah 55:8-9,

For my thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways my ways, says the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.

I could not have imagined all those years ago how God would weave those verses into our family. As hurt mingled with reality after both failed adoptions, God was always there reminding me of His faithfulness. When I recently picked up the journal that I kept during our adoption journey, multitudes of notes and cards fell out. God used so many people during that time to pray for and encourage us. He showed us through fellow believers that He had not abandoned us and was walking on that dry, dusty road with us.

God’s plans were always for our best and His thoughts were far beyond anything we could fathom. No, we did not end up adding to our family through adoption. Rather, I reached the point of surrendering all of my familial desires to God. And through that surrender, He filled me with the peace to know that our family of three was exactly what He wanted for us. I no longer needed to believe the lies that I wasn’t good enough to adopt or that we needed to have at least two children to be a real family. God was blessing our family at that very moment; I had just been too focused on what I didn’t have to see His blessings.

Life does not always go the way we think it should. It can become messy, leading us to misidentify God as being angry with or punishing us. Satan wanted me to view God as judgmental and angry, not loving and full of grace. Now that I look back on our journey, I see God’s hand of protection as He stopped our path on an international adoption from a very unstable country. I can see God’s grace through his constant abiding even when I tried to control my family’s future. I can see His love when he caught every painful tear I cried. Through my daily bible reading, God used Ephesians 2:8-9 to remind me that there was nothing I could do to earn his grace. I couldn’t work hard enough or be good enough to earn his favor. Because grace is a gift he bestows on us FREELY.

For by grace you have been saved through faith, and this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God—  not the result of works, so that no one may boast.” (Ephesians 2:8-9)

If you find yourself in an emotionally messy situation, hold fast to who God’s Word says He is and know He will not forsake you. Hold to the truth that “God has good plans for you, not plans to hurt you.” (Jeremiah 29:11) The story that God is unfolding in your life may look vastly different from what you have always envisioned, but there is peace in surrendering your desires to God. I know because I’ve experienced it.


 
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Meet the Author!

Kim Arnold has been a church member of Council Road Baptist Church for nearly 25 years. She teaches private piano lessons in her studio and at Mid-America Christian University. Her passion lies in training up the next generation of worship leaders. Kim and her husband Jason have been married for 17 years and have a 12-year old son, Nolan.

 

Kim Arnold

Kim Arnold has been a church member of Council Road Baptist Church for nearly 25 years. She teaches private piano lessons in her studio and at Mid-America Christian University. Her passion lies in training up the next generation of worship leaders. Kim and her husband Jason have been married for 17 years and have a 12-year old son, Nolan.