The Adventure of Adoption

Posted by Naomi Vacaro on

Exploring the realities, challenges, and blessings of adoption.

By Kayla Craig

Parenting, like marriage, is a commitment —  a covenant between us and God, creation and Creator. I have the deep privilege of being a parent to two of my four children through adoption. Adoption is a broken, beautiful binding of family, forged through fire. There can be healing, but there’s also deep heartache. It’s a both/and, marked by loss and a separation of family, even as a new one is formed.

When a parent adopts a child, legal proceedings take place in court. Parents make a public, on-the-record commitment. Friends and family bear witness.

“I do.”

“We will.”

With right hands raised, they commit to journeying through life together. There is a before; there is an after. Life is never the same.

In Romans 8, we see adoption language (verse 15) and childbirth language (verse 22) to describe God’s parental love for us. As someone who came to motherhood through both giving birth and adoption, I wonder what it would have been like if my husband and I had welcomed our newborns into our care with the same binding commitment as in adoption.

What if all new parents made vows to their children right from the start? Let the record show, as God is my witness: We will do this together. I will show up for you. I am here to raise, guide, and love you. To honor you and protect you. I will do my broken best. Our stories have converged, and now we write a new book, moment by moment, day by day. No matter what, we are together. Today, tomorrow, for all the days to come, with Christ alongside me and before me, I will love you to the end.

As parents, we must remember our vows, over and over again. When our preschooler throws a tantrum in the middle of the grocery store or our teenager breaks curfew (and our trust). When we wake up in the middle of the night to rock a colicky baby or when our child says, “Just leave me alone.”

Some Christian traditions dedicate little ones, and other denominations celebrate infant baptism. Either way, as one body of believers in Christ, we agree that parenting is sacred.

Even in the everyday moments, parenting is sacramental—  it’s an invitation for Christ to show up in a new way, in our real lives. We are given glimpses of the holy in the midst of our humanity—  in the math homework at the dining room table, in the worn nursery rocking chair. 

When I watch a baptism, I remember my own. I feel the Spirit breathing into my lungs, setting my heart ablaze with the reminder that I, too, am a beloved child of God. I am part of one family, united in Christ. When I watch a couple commit to each other in a marriage ceremony, I see a replay in my heart of the commitment I made to my husband to partner together in all of life’s sorrows and celebrations.

When I see a bleary-eyed new mother holding a tiny baby in her arms, I remember the feeling of a soft newborn being placed on my chest. When I attend our friends’ adoption ceremony, I remember the texture of the court bench beneath me, the documents I held in my shaky hands as I entered a new reality of motherhood.

Romans 8:14 says, “Those who are led by the Spirit of God are the children of God” (niv). That means that God cares for us with a divine parental love that changes us from the inside out. “The grace-filled love of God, uniquely manifested in Jesus, gives us a new identity, purpose, and mission,” writes Dominique Gilliard in his book Subversive Witness. “Through it, we become children of God, colaborers with Christ, and ambassadors of reconciliation.”10 Romans 8:17 says, “Since we are his children, we are his heirs. In fact, together with Christ we are heirs of God’s glory. But if we are to share his glory, we must also share his suffering.” Every broken and beautiful moment in our parenting is a sacred invitation to remember our commitment to our children, to raise them in light of all that is true and just and beautiful in the  woven-  together family of God.

I do. I will. Even if. Even when.

May it be so.

Excerpt from Every Season Sacred: Reflections, Prayers, and Invitations to Nourish Your Soul and Nurture Your Family throughout the Year by Kayla Craig

A Prayer for Adoption

O God, thank You for weaving stories

Of love and of loss

Into a tapestry

Big enough to wrap ourselves in.

For this child we pray,

That we would honor the complexities

Of what it means to be adopted.

We pray that we will hold space

For joy and for grief,

For tears and for laughter.

Guide our steps as we enter into this covenant

Of family,

Of stories held together

By threads of love,

By three-stranded cords.

Make us strong in the stories

Of birth family,

Adoptive family,

And adoptee. 

May this child know that they are beloved

And that they can always take refuge

Under this broad quilt of all they are

And all who cherish and love them.

In our parenting,

Give us openness to tell the truth with care.

Give us humility for what we can never understand.

Give us grace in our connections and bonds.

May we instill confidence,

And may we protect and cherish

The fabric of our child’s past.

May we guide them as they create

The beauty of their future.

In You, kinship is broader than we can imagine.

In You, family includes bloodlines

And goes beyond it too.

In our shortcomings,

Help us humble ourselves to listen

And learn.

O Lord, we see the glory of this child

In all they are

And in all You are.

We pray that we will honor

The privilege of doing life together

As parents and children

Under the blanket

Of Your love.

From To Light Their Way: A Collection of Prayers & Liturgies for Parents by Kayla Craig

Kayla Craig is a parent to four wild, wonderful kids and the author of To Light Their Way: A Collection of Prayers & Liturgies for Parents and Every Season Sacred: Reflections, Prayers, and Invitations to Nourish Your Soul and Nurture Your Family throughout the Year. With more than 100 modern liturgies, Kayla’s nuanced writing guides you into an intentional conversation with God for your children and their world.

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