Our family has gone through the adoption process twice. Each story or journey is unique, yet God made it clear that he was in control in both of our journeys. Our three adopted boys are gifts from the Lord. I cannot imagine a world where I am not their mother, yet I grieve the reason I get to be their mother.

Why did we adopt? Each time we adopted the short answer is because of Jesus. Because of Jesus, our whole world and our priorities have changed. Because of Jesus, we know that we are loved and are capable of love. Because of Jesus, we are still married and capable of loving each other when the other is unlovable. Because of Jesus, we are adopted as children of God. We were loved when we were unlovable. Because of Jesus, we can imitate his love as image-bearers and children of God, loving these boys with fierceness and constant love. Because of Jesus.

In our first adoption, God was showing us that he is trustworthy and faithful. That when he speaks something, we should trust that it is considered done. We also learned he is our provider. We have many examples of moments in our first adoption story of needing a specific amount of money and that exact amount showing up one way or another. Our agency was shocked at how quickly our process went. For an international adoption to go as smoothly and speedily as ours did was almost unheard of. Our agency let us know that we were the fastest referral, and we were referred to the youngest child they had ever had for one of their adoptive families. (Samuel was five months old at referral.) We weren’t surprised! God had promised us a baby!

Had we stopped with this first adoption, we would have been that family that only shared about how amazing adoption is, how easy it is to love another child as if he were your biological child, and how everyone should consider adoption.

Our second adoption was and continues to be much more difficult. God has taught us obedience, the kind of obedience that requires courage, faith, and unrelenting reliance on God for his strength and wisdom. This adoption process did not go as smoothly nor as quickly as our first. There were moments when we questioned ourselves and doubted this was our path. But God continued to pave the path for us and confirm our calling. We still had a lot to learn about trusting God! Once we finally chose obedience, not just to adopt one more child, but instead two, our process went a lot faster and a lot smoother! This adoption process has taught us and continues to teach us about the relentless love of God. We have learned that bringing the children into our home is not the happily ever after, but instead is just the beginning of the journey. When we first started this adoption process, God told us to “embrace the journey.” I didn’t understand, but now I have a better understanding. We are still on the journey, and part of that journey is the healing process.

Adoption is the gospel, and by adopting these sweet boys, God gently reminds us repeatedly that he pursued us, loved us, and cared for us long before we could love him. We are reminded that we are designed for community. We could not have finalized these adoptions without our church community, and we cannot continue this adoption journey without our church community!

We are reminded that we need to cling to Jesus. In John 15:5, Jesus says, “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.” God chose us for this mission of loving these boys, giving them a home and a family. But like most missions, it’s not about what we are doing for the Lord or for these boys. It’s about what God has done and is doing in us and for us. Just like when we first obey and allow Jesus to be our Lord, life is not simply happily ever after. God has a plan for us, and he will sanctify us through and through until we are like him. And that will be our happily ever after: when we see Jesus as he is and become like him! Because we adopted, we understand God’s perfect love better, God’s grace better, God’s justice better, and we are becoming just a little bit more like Jesus.