These ‘sympathy’ flowers from our international adoption agency are pretty, but we weren’t supposed to get them. Twice.
The first time we got them was after we learned that our little girl that we were adopting in Ethiopia died from health complications just days before our adoption of her became finalized there. The name we had chosen for her was “Hannah Grace”.
The second bouquet of flowers arrived after the USCIS (United States Citizenship and Immigration Service) denied our application for another Ethiopian girl adoption, based on a technicality on our income.
Both losses different. Both losses significant. Both losses real. Both losses broke our hearts. How do you understand God’s plan in all of that?
1) We understand that bad things happen to good people – and God’s heart breaks over it
We had seven children when our second failed adoption occured. It hit us hard, and of course affects the children too. We took a walk one day along our road, and a car drove up alongside us with an acquaintance at the wheel. We briefly explained that we were denied by USCIS and therefore were not bringing our daughter home. The guy thought he was giving some kind of helpful insight and said: “Maybe God’s trying to tell you that seven kids is enough”. Really?! I’m so glad he could understand God’s mighty plan, and could articulate it so well to a grieving family! God can do anything He wants, and I have to accept that it is possible that God could cause an adoption to ‘fail’ in order to make His plan happen the way it was supposed to, but I somehow can’t bring myself to accept that, knowing the character of God:
“So I say to you: Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened. “Which of you fathers, if your son asks for a fish, will give him a snake instead? Or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!”
Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this:
to look after orphans and widows in their distress
and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.
I know our intentions aren’t always in line with God’s plan, but we need to look at the big picture and ask ourselves what is at play. In our case we discovered from a social worker who knew of the immigration officer that denied our application, that the officer had ‘issues’ with white people adopting African children. So in our case the free will of the immigration officer stopped our adoption. A simplified understanding of this is a school shooting. You’d never say to the parents of a child killed in such a manner that “Maybe God is trying to tell you that you already have enough children”. Free will exists and can be used for good or evil purposes. Can God step in and intervene? Absolutely He can. But, we see that He doesn’t always step in and stop tragedies from occuring, but IT IS NOT IN HIS PLAN for sinful acts to happen – that’s on the human race.
So, in adoption, there are factors involved where an adoption ‘loss’ can occur because someone makes a poor choice, such as an immigration officer with prejudice, a birth mom who has selfish motivations, or a government overseas that ‘makes a point’ by stopping adoption from occuring, such as in Russia or children currently ‘stuck’ in the Democratic Republic of Congo. And I believe God grieves with us.
Sometimes other ‘natural’ tragedies occur that cause loss. In our first overseas adoption our little Hannah died because she was dealing with complex medical problems. It wasn’t anyone’s fault, but due to human sickness she didn’t make it. When a couple loses a baby through a miscarriage it’s not anyone’s fault. These things happen. And I believe God grieves with us.
2) Be careful who you listen to – The Enemy is ready to speak lies to you!
When you experience loss or grieving many people come to offer their ‘words of wisdom’. Some will be genuine and hearfelt. Others will offer faulty insight. The Enemy is just waiting to offer you an option of doubting God’s faithfulness, and will use just about anything or anybody to get you off track and away from seeking God in the situation. Use discernment when people give you their perspectives about what’s going on. We’ve heard quotes from families we know that are not from God, such as: “Maybe God doesn’t want you to adopt – can’t you see how everything seems to not be working out?”, “God doesn’t give you more than you can handle”, or “God’s obviously sparing you from something even worse.”
Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith,because you know that the family of believers throughout the world is undergoing the same kind of sufferings.
-1 Peter 5: 8-9
And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ—to the glory and praise of God.
No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.
-1 Corinthians 10:13
(This verse is NOT about being given more than you can handle – it is about temptation. God always gives us more than we ‘can handle’ because we’re not supposed to handle it anyway)
3) God has an amazing way of turning things around – and Hope Rises!
When our Hannah died we were truly grieving the loss. We’d never held our girl, and yet to God and us that didn’t matter. Our love for her was the same, and He knew that. Read the whole story of Hannah on our family blog page. After a brief pause we realized God was encouraging us to keep going, knowing there were children that were yet to be a part of our family. We then took the next referral from the agency, which was our son Jonathan. We couldn’t imagine life without Jonathan, and yet I can’t get my mind around the fact that he wouldn’t have been part of our family if we had brought Hannah home. All I can say is that God worked a miracle to form our family in ways we simply cannot fathom. The same happened with our second daughter from Ethiopia – we didn’t bring her home, which meant after three months we were open to bringing Joanna home through domestic adoption. We heard about Joanna because of being connected to Christian Adoption Consultants. And because of that we are now working as consultanst with CAC. Again, I can’t quite wrap my mind around that. I can only explain it in this way: God can take ANY situation and make it into something beautiful for our good and His glory! His mercies are new every morning! And, He loves to turn our sorrow into joy:
Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed,
for his compassions never fail.
They are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness.
I say to myself, “The Lord is my portion;
therefore I will wait for him.
Hear, Lord, and be merciful to me;
Lord, be my help.
You turned my wailing into dancing;
you removed my sackcloth and clothed me with joy,
that my heart may sing your praises and not be silent.
Lord my God, I will praise you forever.
In all things, whether good or bad, God loves us, and desires a relationship with us. He wants us to seek Him, trust him, let go of what we were not meant to carry or understand, and He promises to be all we need. And as we wait and rest, He is our hope because He is already preparing the road for us to walk in obedience. It’s not an easy road, but it’s where His continued deep blessings are to be found.
But the Lord has become my fortress, and my God the rock in whom I take refuge.
And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him,
who have been called according to his purpose.
The Lord makes firm the steps
of the one who delights in him;
though he may stumble, he will not fall,
for the Lord upholds him with his hand.
I pray the words of this song minister to your heart, especially if you are in a place of loss and grieving:
‘Failed Adoptions’ obviously happen, but please remember that families working with Christian Adoption Consultants have extrememly high rates of adoption success. CAC families have an adoption ‘fail rate’ of less than 10%. The national average is between 30-50% that fail.
Also, please note that:
12% of our families have been matched within a month
40% of our families have been matched within 3 months
76% of our families have been matched within 6 months from signing on with Christian Adoption Consultants!