Monday, October 7, 2013


From Beth:
Stephen and I have been talking about adoption a lot lately. It's interesting because for years we really didn't think about it much. Of course, in the beginning we lived and breathed it. But then things settled down and we moved into a lovely stage of simply being a family, not really needing to focus much on the fact that we had 4 adopted children. It was a beautiful part of who we were, but not a focal point I would say.

But as we have entered into this stage of launching our children into adulthood, it feels as if we have come full circle in some ways. Adoption has come to the forefront of our lives again as our beautiful treasures are making the transition into independence. We are seeing that this process of separating from us is bringing out the uniqueness of each child as they discover more fully who they are in the context of being Russian and American and adopted and a Templeton and a child of their biological parents . How complicated! This is no easy transition to make! 

One thing Stephen and I have realized through this process is that we had a goal for our children that, although very well-meant, was not the goal that God had in mind. Let me explain. It was our desire that our adopted children be so loved, so secure, so encompassed in the life and culture of our family, that they would come to a point where they never felt different or separate from us. We didn't want them to feel like they didn't fit in or that they were somehow "other." And for some years there, I think we got as close to that goal as a family could. We celebrated our children's Russian heritage, provided Russian language tutoring, and made multiple trips back to Russia, but through it all our desire was to save our adopted children from feeling any sense of being different.

But let me tell you what I feel God has been teaching me these past few years. Our children are different. He loves their differences and wants us to love and embrace those differences, not try to erase them. Our adopted children have taken on a different shape than our biological children, but that is because God does not want to eliminate their past, their story, their genetic dispositions. There is no doubt whatsoever in my mind that His plan for them is complete freedom from any and all manifestations of the brokenness and lack that led to their need to be adopted. But since God is all about restoration and redemption, so He delights to use the very building blocks that have been toppled into rubble to rebuild their borders and create their shape. 

It makes complete sense to me now that the shape of their lives would look different than mine. And I hear the Spirit of God say, "Embrace it all Beth. They need to see that you rejoice in who they are, even when it looks rough and unfinished." It's like they are putting together the borders of their lives, just like you do when you put together a complex puzzle. These borders are what define and give them shape, and we are seeing that the shape of their puzzle looks in some ways different, beautifully different. We see that they are looking to us to see if we approve, to see if it is OK to take on this shape. 

Are there things we would change? Well, yes there are! But that is true for all of our children, biological and adopted. We parents see things our children don't see, and we feel the temptation to try to live our children's lives for them--at least I do! But we trust the Lord to take them through this stage of growth and identity discovery; we trust Him with this process of shape-discovery and the fitting together of border pieces. We see that the love and spirit of adoption that we have given our lives to has taken on different shapes and forms as it is expressed in our children of three different family trees. All three family lines exhibit evidence of this spirit of adoption, yet all three look different.

Speaking of trees, you might look at it like this: you and your spouse are apple trees in an apple orchard. Your biological family are also apple trees. There are doubtless different varieties, red delicious, golden, granny smith, winesap, etc, but still, all are apples. When you adopted your beloved children you introduced, most likely, some other fruit trees into your orchard. Maybe you have an orange tree, or pear--or a few of each! Apples, oranges, pears--all are wonderful trees, but each one unique.

It does not help for you to try to make that orange tree bear apples. It simply is not possible, and will only create tension, frustration and eventually, anger. 

Does that make sense to you? I wonder what you all think. I'd so appreciate your input on this--leave a comment!


  1. Beth,

    It gets even more interesting if you mixed fruit to start with when you got married!! :-)

    I think you're spot on here. Isn't the picture onward and upward? More and Higher? His Kingdom Come? Colossians 3:1-4

    Isn't it a picture that we're growing out of and into all that He has for us? Out of our Identity as Children of God? Saints in the Household of God? Temples for His Dwelling? Into all that the Kingdom would bring to bear for all of us? Destiny and Kingdom Purpose as the Unique Expressions of His Life that each of us are?

    Thanks Beth for the consistent reminders of all that He has for us. Gifted. Wrapped. Waiting for us to occupy.

    1. Such good words Kip! I love what you are saying about our identity and Destiny in Christ! That is where it gets exciting, for us and for our children. I so agree with you-- God has prepared such wonderful gifts that are ours to discover and enjoy. Thanks for the awesome comment!

  2. Beth, this is so so good and I am so thankful that you followed the Spirits leading to write this! I need to remind myself of this with all of our kiddos adopted or not. We truly do not want to see our children hurting because others thing they are different. Or because they themselves feel different. Yet it IS their story and we cannot and should not take that from them. I love the part where you said, "They need to see that you rejoice in who they are, even when it looks rough and unfinished." Need to print that out for my mirror so I can remind myself of it daily! Such good revelations! God is so good and faithful! :) Thank you for sharing this!

    1. I so agree Kate--this is true whether adopted or not! Thank you for your encouraging words. May we learn to embrace as our Father embraces!