As Christians, we have all been adopted into God’s family. On the good days, it’s a beautiful thing. We take comfort in His love and provision. We enjoy His fellowship. And we do our best to please Him with our actions and attitudes. And then there are the bad days when we mess up, ignore Him, or even get angry at Him. If adoption into God’s family doesn’t guarantee a perfect relationship, should we be surprised that adopting a child brings with it both the good days and the bad?
As an agency committed to making sure every child has a safe and loving home, we try to show families how much they will be blessed by adopting a child. But we are also careful to tell the truth—adoption brings unique challenges that, at times, can be painful. This is exactly why we also offer so many post-adoptive services. We want to help adoptive parents and their child successfully get through the tough times and experience a joyful, abundant life together.
This past spring I had the opportunity to hear Carissa Woodwyk speak to 2,500 attendees at the Christian Alliance for Orphan’s annual conference about the hurt involved in adoption. Carissa, an adoptee herself and coauthor (with Susan TeBos) of Before You Were Mine, often refers to the “beauty and brokenness” of adoption.
“In the midst of celebration that comes with the story of adoption, there’s a story before that child was adopted,” she told me recently. She went on to explain that the parts of their stories that show up after adoption are often linked to the way that they were wounded and the message they received before they were adopted.
Unfortunately, too many times, we ignore those stories and pretend as if the adoptive child has always been a part of our family. From her own experience as an adopted person, Carissa believes that’s not healthy for the child.
“It doesn’t feel very good as a child to have something significant in your life dismissed.”
According to Carissa, being open to those stories and listening to them gives the adoptive parent an opportunity to teach their child about a redemptive God who heals all wounds. Many adopted children come from hurting places, and she believes talking about the hurt opens the door to healing.
“We have to acknowledge weakness and brokenness for redemption to shine.”
The adoption community is a special place—they have so much love to give the adopted child. Carissa calls it a “sacred space,” and as you listen to our conversation, I think you will understand why.