When we received the call 18 months ago, we committed to providing a home for this little one as long as necessary.
It looks like that may mean forever.
At the first permanency hearing last fall, the judge decided to give J’s mom some more time to work her case plan. Visitation increased as we started moving towards reunification. At the same time, J started having significant gastrointestinal issues and oral regression to the point that he began losing weight and having long bouts of screaming.
Maybe, one day, I can describe this process, and the events of recent months, in more detail. For now, I will say there have been major shifts in the case such that the current plan is “non-reunification”—which means the State does not intend to send J home. Visits stopped as of December. J’s GI symptoms have resolved and he is physically healthy. For this, we are grateful!
We are currently preparing for a TPR (Termination of Parental Rights) hearing in which the State will present a case to permanently remove legal rights for both of J’s parents. I have been subpoenaed to testify, so recent weeks have been filled with visits from DFCS, CASA, UH4C (our agency), and multiple attorneys.
We love this little boy and are humbled and honored that we may get to call him our own one day. But, still, we recognize that this is not the way it’s supposed to be. We are grieving for our boy, for his family, for our experiences–and those of our biological children. If the judge rules in favor of the State, J is about to become a legal orphan.
Will you pray for us as we prepare for this court hearing? Will you pray for J’s biological family and the others who will testify? Will you pray for his mother, in particular? Will you pray for all the legal parties involved? Will you grieve with us?
As Christians, we (the Church) have become enamored with the doctrine of adoption in such a way that often leads to a hyper-spiritualization of the process and a failure to recognize the depth of loss that makes adoption necessary in the first place.
We know that the Creation reality is the ideal: made in God’s image and in perfect fellowship with God, fellow man, and creation. We also know that sin came into the world–marring each of these relationships and bringing death into the world. We know that Jesus came and brought us back into relationship with God, making us fellow heirs with Himself–evidenced by the presence and work of the Holy Spirit in His people.
We know—but we also forget. We forget what kind of world He entered, and how that adoptive relationship was established: Jesus voluntarily left His throne and submitted to a permanent alteration of His person through the incarnation. Laying aside the privilege of deity, He came into a culture that was messy and broken. Yet He consistently offered dignity to those around Him–especially those forgotten by the world.
We forget that the final sacrifice involved chanting crowds, the sound of the whip on raw skin, mockery and disdain, screams, nails, sinews, and blood.
God’s heart is, indeed, for adoption. But it is a costly process. And we who seek to serve Him are not above Him.
There have been many tears over the last 18 months, fists slammed down in anger. There have been hours of ceaseless screaming, months of angry tantrums, countless changes in plans, and the constant presence of paperwork, e-mails, texts, calls, and visits. There have been lies, accusations, and misunderstandings. And, always, pleading before the Lord for the sake of this child and his family. Really, these are the more superficial struggles. There is a lot I cannot share publicly. And I cannot know the experience of J’s mother—I cannot imagine being in her position.
God knows what it means to lose a child. He knows how it feels to loosen His grasp, to turn His face in rage, and weep in bitter grief. He knows and He sees.
It is a story of loss. But that’s not the end: It is also a story of redemption.
We, and those around us, often see foster care and adoption as heroic and selfless acts. I believe this is true: It is heroic and selfless. But we are not the heroes–and the story is much bigger than we imagine.
You see, as my daughter used to say, “Jesus just couldn’t stay dead!”
Scripture does not command us to care for the orphan and the widow solely for the sake of bringing provision to those underprivileged and voiceless image-bearers. (Though specific and practical provision are necessary in pursuing justice.) He means to reveal (and fulfill) the poverty and need in each of us.
You, too, are impoverished.
In His resurrection and by His Spirit, He means to redeem us all and to allow us to be part of His work among His people. He wants to draw us into relationship with Himself and one another.
Over the last 18 months, we have seen a little boy from a hard place begin to heal. (Though this doesn’t always look the way we expect!) We have watched our biological children struggle with the uncertainty of his place among us—yet consistently choose to love. I have wrestled with the process and been forced to draw on a faith I don’t really have. I keep limping. And He keeps providing.
I pray that I would be found faithful in my witness—both on behalf of this little boy and in my identity as a broken, adopted child of the Living God.
But with me it is a very small thing that I should be judged by you or by any human court. In fact, I do not even judge myself. For I am not aware of anything against myself, but I am not thereby acquitted. It is the Lord who judges me. Therefore do not pronounce judgment before the time, before the Lord comes, who will bring to light the things now hidden in darkness and will disclose the purposes of the heart. Then each one will receive his commendation from God. 1 Cor 4:3-5