Love and Adoption
One of the themes in my life over the past few years has been “love.” This is a topic that is much used and thrown around by our American culture, but I am learning how little I know about it and how far short I fall of its noblest standard set by the greatest man that ever walked this earth, Jesus Christ. When it comes to love, at times I feel like a man in bondage to self, unable to love freely like God.
The Apostle Paul writes in Romans 5:5 that God’s love has been poured in to our hearts. In Ephesians (4:13-16), Paul talks about our need to mature in this love. I am personally experiencing this in many ways through this adoption process. I have always had to battle the natural inertia to be self-focused and consumed with my own thoughts and concerns. So, as we started the adoption process, I had to battle the natural tendency to ignore Katya’s situation and her needs. I had a growing sense that pursuing the adoption of Katya was something God wanted for our family, but I wrestled with the demands this change would make upon my emotional, physical, and financial resources. I was afraid that it would further expose the frayed corners and messy closets of my somewhat hidden, inner world. I did not like the potential of greater stresses (like an adoption process and a Ukrainian orphan) to expose my flank and stir up the darkness of this inner world. Yet, like Jesus calling Peter out of the boat, the excitement of following him and my confidence in his love won out over my fears.
Testimonies of God’s Love
My beloved wife is a great testimony to me in this area of love. Those of you who have met her or followed her on this blog know how beautiful, real, and dynamic is her love. She inspires me to want to be better . . . to be more like Jesus. To see her enfold Katya into her heart, her arms, her life, and our family is holy ground.
I have seen it in the ways she has wept for Katya’s situation over the past year; I have seen it in her research and study of Ukraine and the situation for orphans in this country; I have seen it as she has filled out myriad forms for our dossier; I have seen it as she has prepared new linens and decorations for her room with our present youngest daughter, Piper; I have seen it as she has labored in prayer through the months; and I saw last tonight as she read a “Beginners English” book in bed for forty-five minutes with Katya and Piper – no one who walked in that room could have detected a difference as to which of the two was her daughter of nine years (Piper) and which was her soon-to-be daughter through adoption. I guess this is why the Bible so closely connects our adoption in Jesus Christ with the love of God. We see this connection powerfully in Romans 8:22-23 where Paul talks about our adoption into God’s family which is followed in 8:31-39 with the beautiful passage about the love of God which crescendos with . . .
“Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? . . . For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
That rock-solid, unshakeable love is what gives me the confidence that nothing will take me away from God’s arms. And I have the privilege of seeing it modeled out every day before me in the life of my beloved wife. And I will have the joy of seeing Katya transformed by the love of God through her.
Another testimony to God’s love for me has been our facilitator and translator, Lilya. I wish you could meet her – she truly is like one of the family. She is presently starting her PhD program for a Law Degree in International Children’s Rights.
Yet, when she is with us and Katya, she is so present. I struggle to be present and not have my mind float off to the next day’s events, or balancing the checkbook, or next month’s house project, or some other life-stressor. Yet, when we were at the beach the other day with Katya, Lilya talked with my daughter Grace like a peer, hung out with our eldest Sara Maria like a sister, and covered my boys with sand like a kid – and she hung out with Cindy by the water, discussing Cindy’s concerns about various behavior and health concerns related to Katya. It was like she was omni-present. It was the love of God pouring forth through a human soul. Yesterday she ran me to the post-office and helped me search for my lost Bible at MacDonalds; she squeezed this in between busy studies and another appointment. Yet, she is so patient – whether it be with my pour pronunciate of every Ukrainian and Russian word, with gross negligence of Ukranian customs (like whistling indoors), or just plain bad humor – she endures with great love. She has blessed us as a living testimony of the amazing love of God. We are so greatful that God has not left us alone on this journey (Joshua 1:9; Matthew 28:20).