It happened almost every weekday around 6:30 and it was one of the most touching things I have had the privilege to witness. It is a picture of adoption really—simple, deeply moving, and truly beautiful.
Our three boys, all recently home from a Russian orphanage, would climb up on the wooden fence in front of our house and just look down the road. I remember the first time they did it I wondered what they were up to. (Back in those early days of adoption I wondered that a whole lot!!)
And the oldest, still speaking only Russian, pointed down the road and said something about “Papa”—being super bright I was able to translate that right away! And I recognized “waiting,” a Russian word I had learned, along with lots of other mommy vocabulary like “brush your teeth,” “I love you,” “be careful,” “time for bed,” “don’t do that!” ……. not to mention a few cuss words that our children would repeat when angry. Wondering what in the world they were saying, I asked a Russian speaking friend to translate. Yikes!
Over the years there have been many moments like that one, the kind of moments that compel you to reach for your camera in hopes that you can somehow hold on to the warmth and beauty of it all. I didn’t get a photo of my boys waiting for their Papa back then, but I see them still and think, “That right there is what adoption is all about— that child has a Daddy to wait for at the end of the day.”
And when I think about these children, who once were orphans standing at a different fence watching people who weren’t their parents drive away, I am overwhelmed.
But my understanding about what is beautiful has changed, or more accurately has expanded, since those early days of the Papa-lookout. God has been teaching me to see the beauty and power of adoption in what at first look (and even second and third look!) appears to be only ugly.
Let me explain by telling you another adoption story, although if you are like me you may not recognize it as beautiful.
A few years ago my husband and I travelled to Texas to be with his mother, who was having surgery. Leaving our seven children, all older teens and young adults by this time, made us a bit nervous since a few of them were not doing too well. Just as Stephen’s mother was being wheeled back into her hospital room after surgery his phone rang. Such bad timing, as so many parenting moments are!
As soon as I saw his face I knew two things: it was one of our children, and it wasn’t good.
I was right.
“Dad, it looks like I’ve gotten myself into a little bit of trouble,” he says.
He was making this call from jail.
The details aren’t necessary, but I will tell you I was so angry. I felt deeply disappointed, deeply discouraged, and deeply weary of the battle.
And I could only see the ugly in this.
A few hours later I was able to take the time to pray, which began with me complaining to The Lord, and then asking Him once again to please tell us what to do to help our son heal and live in the freedom of sonship.
And as is always the way with God, He answered my desperate question with a life-giving response, so different from what I was looking for.
“But Beth, this is a SON who has a DADDY to call when he has ‘gotten himself into a little bit of trouble.’”
One sentence that completely changed my perspective and transformed what was ugly into something truly moving.
What felt like yet another failure, of my son and of our parenting, became a powerful picture of adoption.
For this was no orphan.
This was a SON.
Who had a FATHER.
This was simple, deeply moving, and truly beautiful.
This, my fellow adopters, is what adoption is all about. It isn’t what I had dreamed of when we brought our children home 17 years ago, and it has cost us more than we ever imagined, but it is the work of the Father’s love played out in all of our lives.
It is what adoption is all about.