The situation takes me back 9 years ago. I’m standing at the counter mopping up crumbs while I mop up tears too. Wiping up a kitchen mess while I wipe my red, swollen eyes at the same time. The familiar lessons of sovereign bullets and choosing to give thanks in the taking, quickly come to mind. They are a strange comfort to my grieving heart, messengers of sorrow, but simultaneously singing a sweet refrain.
For two months now, we’ve anticipated the December placement of a baby girl in our home. We met with her expectant mom and talked, crying and laughing, for over an hour. She set up a hospital plan, inviting us to visit her during labor and take over parenting responsibilities immediately following delivery. And then yesterday, she changed her mind, and decided not to follow through with the adoption plan.
While we rejoice for this life and the unification of a family unit, we can’t help but grieve over the loss of this baby being added to our family. Adoption always involves grief, and in this case, in spite of our tears, we are thankful that we are grieving so this birth mom doesn’t have to. When starting down the path of adoption, it’s easy to talk a big game about taking risks, being a father to the fatherless, and painting this glorious picture of the gospel. But actually, we don’t get to decide how it all ends. Because really, God is the one who is ultimately Father to the Fatherless, and maybe what he really wants us to do is be faithful to show his love to those in need in smaller ways, like getting an expectant mom through the roughest six weeks of her life because she knows someone cares and is willing to love her child as their own. Maybe he wants us to bring her flowers and write her a reassuring card telling her she matters. Maybe he wants us to faithfully pray for her and her child because no one else is. And maybe he wants us to be willing to open our hearts and enter into her hard story and make it our own, helping her bear all the heartbreak and drama it involves. And in the end, maybe our arms are empty, but hers are full. And that’s OK, because we don’t get to decide how he uses us.
As friends (who have had more than their share of grief in the adoption process) told us, “We don’t adopt perfectly. But God does.” And our expectation has to be in him – the real Father to the Fatherless and Helper of the poor and needy. Maybe our adoption story doesn’t end like we expect, at the front of a courtroom all smiles with the same last name. But maybe God chooses to use our willing hearts to love others in a smaller way, even to our personal hurt, as just a part of the process and writing of a few short pages in the longer story of their lives.
And we’ve decided that what he decides is good enough.