“May we shout for joy over your victory
and lift up our banners in the name of our God.”
Team sports defined our child raising years: soccer, baseball, basketball, football, volleyball, track, and tennis (I hope I didn’t forget someone!). Memories and countless life lessons sprang from the sidelines. And this is what I’ve learned about good teammates:
But how does this apply to adoption?
Many of us feel overwhelmed, forgetting that God intended us to share the good and the not-so-good. What would happen if we looked for Christ and His victories in our lives and in the lives of others (our teammates) and rejoiced?
Teammates know each other. We encourage and forgive. We cheer for our teammates. We continue to listen to our coach’s voice and keep our eye on the shared goal…to love and nurture the children God has entrusted to us and to honor Him in the process. It’s not just about us, our kids, or our challenges. It’s about all of us – together - choosing to support our team.
As adoption teammates:
Discussion question: As cameras span the crowd in a televised sporting event they frequently capture colorful banners raised high by fans to support their favorite team. What would your banner say?
"You did not choose me, but I chose you..." (John 15:16)
Adoption is loaded with choice. we choose to adopt, the type of adoption we want, and an agency to help us adopt. We choose yes or no when a birth family chooses us, or when we receive a child referral. We choose our child. But we dare not forget they did not choose us.
Some children experience a seamless transition into their adoptive families; others do not. Some choose quickly; others never do. But for my daughter, choosing us as her parents was a process.
Sarah was three years old when she joined our family from Cambodia. Choosing Sarah, without her choosing us, meant she was “stuck” in our family. Her wounds collided with mine before our suitcases were unpacked. Chaos and drama reigned in our home for a season. It was exhausting.
Adolescence fostered unhealthy choices.
Independence cultivated rejection.
But life brought her back.
Haunted by unanswered questions, Sarah needed to return to Cambodia. We visited her orphanage and caregivers, explored her birth culture, laughed, bargained in the marketplace, ate new foods, prayed and talked. It was good – and healing.
Back home, one evening after dinner, Sarah thanked her dad for the trip. Then, turning to me, she began to cry and said, “Mom, thank you for going to Cambodia with me and for being there when I needed you. And I want you to know that I really do choose you to be my mom.” We hugged and cried. Somehow I knew she had made that decision. Although speaking it was healing for both of us, it didn’t turn ours into a happily-ever-after-story.
Burned bridges did not magically reappear. Harsh words and careless actions were not forgotten. But they were forgiven. We’ve folded her choosing process into our journey, accepted what she could give, and watched the trajectory of our story change. Mutual choosing provides fertile ground for healing and growth. It’s never too late.
I’ve often wondered how I would deal with the loss, the unknown, and the confusion as a transracial adoptee. I’m past the mothering frustrations and the shame of my inadequacy. And I’ve decided I could only hope to do it as honestly as Sarah and our other two adopted daughters have done it. I wanted a seamless transition. But I’m grateful for the choosing process.
And doesn’t that describe you and me?
“You did not choose me, but I chose you…”
Eventually, by God’s grace, I chose Him too.
And eventually, by God’s grace, most adopted children choose us. But until they do, may we be gracious, loving, kind, compassionate and forgiving as they navigate an unimaginable journey.
(Shared with her permission and blessing by Sarah Freeman Preston.)
“Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” (John 14: 27b)
Raging rivers crash through rock-hewn gorges, racing, hurling themselves over boulders, thrashing down the mountain. Our young son once dubbed these rushing Colorado rivers “wild water”. It stuck. I can’t see water rushing, white spray gushing into the air without smiling. Wild water it is.
But today it’s a metaphor for my spirit. It’s restless; emotions threaten to explode - so much grief and fear, rolling, tumbling, gaining momentum on a relentless journey…but to where?
So I come to you, Lord, weeping. And I see the wild water.
A roaring, swollen river - tumbling over itself; gaining speed and debris it mocks the nearby banks. It has no choice. Melting snow pack, erosion, unprecedented rain, and countless streams dumping their burden into the racing river force it to become a victim of circumstances.
Life feels like wild water sometimes. Greater and bigger than anything we can tame.
But we are not a victim of circumstances.
He who is in us is greater than he who is in the world.
And He whispers: Do not let your hearts be troubled, and do not be afraid. I will not leave you as orphans. I calmed the raging seas with a word. Trust me.
We can’t control external pressures: a child’s behaviors, the actions of others, a broken legal system, or a raging disease. But we’re not victims! We can mitigate the wild waters of life. God and His word offer hope, power, grace, and perspective.
Father, protect me as I rush, thrash and hurl down the mountain. Keep me within your boundaries. Help me not to flood my banks or hurt others on my journey. Thank you that you are greater than our circumstances. Teach me how to not let my heart be troubled or be afraid. I trust you.