I’d never felt that kind of bitterness before. Visceral. Bone-deep.
And I’d certainly never been that angry at God.
It was almost more than my 13-year-old body could bear and it clawed at my insides, digging into my soul as I wrestled with the Lord over a skinny, curious Ukrainian boy. My new brother.
I was so excited when my parents first announced that God had called us to adopt an 11-year-old from overseas. We had prayed for him for months, knowing only his name and birthdate. And looking at his picture, I knew he was meant to be ours.
But when the papers were signed, and the expectations shattered, and the daily family rhythms recalibrated, I wasn’t so sure anymore. He moved to the beat of a different drum and he spoke a language I couldn’t understand and his behaviors baffled me. Without meaning to, he changed everything.
I felt my family was ruined, and God was responsible.
How dare he disrupt my family? How could he bring in this boy that I barely knew and make him my brother? Why would he require me to sacrifice my comfort, my patience, my routine? How could God expect me to love him when it was so difficult and costly?
But God graciously met me in those questions, and His still, small voice pierced through the gloom: I have chosen you. I have loved you. I have adopted you.
And I knew that if God had chosen me, loved me, adopted me … then He would empower me to choose, love, and adopt my brother.
In fact, He was calling me to choose, love and adopt my brother. Every minute. Every day. Because love wasn’t a feeling, wasn’t stumbled into. Love was a choice and I needed to obey.
As I wept in the company of my parents, expressing my anger and confusion and recounting the truths I knew required me to take up my cross and die to myself, the beauty of the Gospel broke into the hardness of my weary heart afresh, and the goodness of God chipped away at my bitterness.
Slowly, surely, steadily God reconciled me to my brother.
Everyone’s adoption story is unique. Parents, adoptees, siblings, grandparents all experience the grace and grief of this gift in different ways.
But every adoption story points to the greatest Adoption Story of all — our adoption into the family of God through Jesus Christ. And for those of us in Christ, we share this common ground, this sure foundation that transcends language barriers, cultural differences, and personal preferences.
Earthly families may fracture and human relationships strain under the weight of sin, but not even the stubborn bitterness of a 13-year-old heart could dim the glories of the Gospel. And I’m grateful the Lord has chosen to shine His light through the cracks of my Adoption Story.
“For God, who said, ‘Let light shine out of darkness,’ has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us.”2 Corinthians 4:6-7
This blog originally appeared on Kentucky Today.