I’ve been called a lot of words I don’t deserve in the past week: beautiful and obedient and gracious and grace-filled and sweet and honorable and passionate and amazing and courageous and inspiring.
You want to know the word that best described me the night before I posted our adoption news?
The week before, I sat trembling in my Bible study group because I knew God was moving in us to do something about this orphan named Jesse who would be renamed Zoe Amanda. I just didn’t know how to tell anyone. I didn’t know how to explain myself.
I thought we would be called crazy. (And a little part of me thought that we’d deserve that.)
I thought our friends wouldn’t stand by us. (How I misjudged you!)
I thought our choice would be considered reckless, when we already had two young children and when I was still recovering from knee surgery and when I seem to collect chronic health problems. (No one brought up any of that.)
Friends knew we planned to adopt someday, but we had no homestudy started yet, we weren’t on any waitlist, and we hadn’t narrowed down a country or special need or age or anything else yet. We were caught by surprise, so we knew other people would be too.
I’m smiling in this picture, but I was so scared of how y’all would respond to the news.
A little blond girl who is wise beyond her years was the one who gave me the words, days after our announcement.
We sat with my brother-in-law’s family, and they asked why we were doing this. I tried to answer, and I stumbled over my words: “Well, this wasn’t the country we expected, or the special needs we expected, or the age of child we expected, or the timing we expected, but…” I couldn’t find the words to finish that sentence.
Jocelyn, who now dotes on her sister with more love than I thought she was capable of, jumped in.”But God said to do it, so we’re doing it.”
You see, the reason I don’t deserve any of the words at the beginning of this post is that I know myself. I know that I am as damaged and weird and hopeless as any of the orphans Pat Robertson dismissed last week. I, too, am broken by life in a fallen world, fractured by my own sin and by the sins of others along the way. I know my sin too well to boast of any of the words used to describe me since my post went live in the wee hours of Friday morning.
I can boast of the Savior who rescued and redeemed me, turning my broken places into cracks through which His light can shine. He does make all things beautiful in His time, in the words of Ecclesiastes 3:11, and I’m both humbled and thankful that He has allowed us to be part of His plan for bringing beauty out of the brokenness that began Zoe’s life.
Oh, how I love being her mom!
Shannon and her husband Lee have been married for 7 years, with three children Jocelyn (5), Robbie (3), and Zoe (9 mo). The oldest two are homegrown, and Zoe joined the family via adoption from Taiwan in July 2012. Shannon is a stay-at-home mom, writing about family and faith and whatnot at Dinglefest, who also serves as her church’s special needs ministry coordinator, blogging about that to equip and encourage other churches at The Works of God Displayed. Their adoption of Zoe – including the picture to the left – was documented by The Archibald Project; all the pictures are on Facebook here. The Dingles love to call Raleigh home, and they hope to adopt again in a few years.
We like to gush about the beauty of adoption.
I wear a necklace with a cut-out of Taiwan and Christ’s words in John 14:18 – “I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you” – promising the Holy Spirit and His second coming.
I believe that earthly adoption serves at a metastory and a shadow of the true Story of God’s redemptive power in adopting me and Lee and Jocelyn. Hopefully, one day when they come to know Him, Robbie and Zoe and future children and grandchildren into His forever family.
But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God.
For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!” The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God.
But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son,born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons. And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!”
However, consider the Garden of Eden.
Did death or sin turn children into orphans then?
No. Death didn’t happen before sin… and, um, obviously sin didn’t happen before, uh, sin.
So, yes, let’s bask in the beauty of God’s redemption in adoption and God’s act of placing the lonely into families, blessing us and blessing her. And let’s rejoice when Zoe comes home.
But let’s also remember that every earthly adoption is a response to the ugly realities of a fallen world. Let’s also remember that our adoption with gain a child for our family and a family for our Zoe, it also involves loss. Orphans only exist because – whatever the circumstances may be – they lost their birth family.
Don’t get me wrong. I do still believe that adoption is beautiful. I will keep sharing the beauty in adoption.
But, I will also write about the ugliness too.
In Isaiah 61:3, the prophet writes about the glorious exchange of “a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair.” Would the beauty seem as sweet in the absence of the ashes? Would the joy be as rich without the mourning first? Would the praise be as consuming if it didn’t follow despair?
Let’s keep celebrating the beauty, and let’s remember and be brokenhearted over the brokenness from which the beauty emerges.
________________________________________Shannon and her husband Lee have been married for 7 years, with three children Jocelyn (5), Robbie (3), and Zoe (9 mo). The oldest two are homegrown, and Zoe joined the family via adoption from Taiwan in July 2012. Shannon is a stay-at-home mom, writing about family and faith and whatnot at Dinglefest, who also serves as her church’s special needs ministry coordinator, blogging about that to equip and encourage other churches at The Works of God Displayed. Their adoption of Zoe – including the picture to the left – was documented by The Archibald Project; all the pictures are on Facebook here. The Dingles love to call Raleigh home, and they hope to adopt again in a few years.