Wednesday was a significant day for our family. It was Jordan’s 15th birthday, and we celebrated early in the morning with our family tradition of chocolate cake and banana ice cream for breakfast. Then Charly and I traveled an hour by bus to the orphanage. Yes. We actually got to meet the two boys we are hoping and praying will become our sons!
As we are not on the typical adoption path right now, we are so thankful that God has provided us with an advocate in Gansu who is helping us to navigate a very unique road of special approvals and exceptions to try to match us with these boys and complete their adoptions before our paperwork expires on August 22.
“Your road led through the sea, your pathway through the mighty waters—a pathway no one knew was there!” (Psalm 77:19)
On the bus I thought about our three biological children. How I have known them their entire lives. Since even before their births, as I carried them in my womb. And how meeting these two boys, on Jordan’s birthday, felt like a very different kind of birth. An introduction. Not joining our family yet. Not even guaranteed that they will be joining our family. But we are hoping. We are fighting for them. And we have seen God moving the mountains that are still in the way. A birthing still in process.
I reflected on our three children’s birthdays and how we’ve celebrated them over the years. And how different it will be to have no pictures in our new boys’ albums as babies, as toddlers, as kindergarteners. Because we won’t have the privilege of getting to know these two until much later in their lives. The first birthday celebrations we’ll have for them will be in December when they turn 8 and 9. A huge chapter of their lives— full of question marks. There will be so much we will never know about these years before they become Pines.
And so. I’m thankful for the peace God gave me as I was praying about our adoption at the end of June. The time that we were beginning to consider how we would change our request if God chose not to give us the two from Gansu we were praying for. Somewhat overwhelmed with the idea of what age we would ask for, I turned to Psalm 139. In reading those verses, I knew that if we adopted an older child, I could trust that the “missing years” weren’t missing to Him.
“Your eyes saw my unformed body. All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.” (Psalm 139:16)
I journaled on June 29 (edited here to make it plural): “Trusting that the days/years in the orphanage were ordained and part of (their) story before coming to our family, even though we would wish that (they) could have joined us earlier. Trusting in God’s greater plan and His perfect timing.”
The peace that God gave me then is something I have been able to come back to and rest in, now that we know about these two boys. I can trust that He had a reason in choosing to make them known to us at this time, and not any earlier. That their years in the orphanage, whatever they have been like, can be used by Him for good. Because those years were ordained by Him. And can be redeemed.
I love how Kristin Swick Wong expresses her trust in God for this “missing period” before adoption, in her book Carried Safely Home: “I need to believe that the first 20 months of Benjamin’s life were not all loss, that prayers have been and will be answered, that God has used this time to create something beautiful. I need to believe that even this pain of being grafted into a new family can be redeemed, clothed with glorious garments of praise. I draw hope from the Lord who takes what is broken and makes it beautiful. It may take a long time. Oak trees grow slowly. But perhaps it is from the scars of Benjamin’s broken places that a sapling is starting to grow, an oak of righteousness to display God’s splendor.” (Referencing Isaiah 61:1-3)
Since meeting the boys, I’ve been thinking more about this idea of them being grafted into our family. Romans 11:17 says, “And you, Gentiles, who were branches from a wild olive tree were grafted in. So now you also receive the blessing God has promised Abraham and his children, sharing in God’s rich nourishment of his special olive tree.”
These new branches were not a part of the tree originally, but chosen to become part of the tree. And after they were grafted in, they were also able to receive the blessing of Abraham and to share in the rich nourishment of God. What a beautiful picture of God’s adoption of us. And how He has grafted us into His own special olive tree.
To be nourished at the King’s table every day, just like Mephibosheth.
I’ve also been encouraged by Wong’s description of God’s plan in the adoption process and how we participate in it:
“Their genes, which they did not receive from us, will mark their lives. Their early childhood traumas may affect them. The way we raise them will also shape them. We hope to recognize the genetic propensities of our adopted children and shape them for good. But there is something beyond genes or environment that makes them who they are, other elements that go in to their identity. Adopted children are ours by God’s plan, by his work and our participation in that work, by prayers and papers, by the physical and the spiritual. Through all of these, they mysteriously but surely become our children.”
We went to a mountain park to celebrate Jordan’s birthday Wednesday afternoon. (Our first family picture without CJ, as he is on his one month backpacking trip in the US.) Jordan set the camera on a rock to take this picture with the automatic timer. While Charly or I would have used more of a zoom, I actually really like all the reflection this picture shows. And the trees make me think of God’s grafting. And the birthing in process that is happening in our family right now.