Prof. Brian Huizinga, professor of Dogmatics and Old Testament in the Protestant
Reformed Theological Seminary and member of Grandville PRC in Grandville,
Michigan

In this two-part article you are privileged to hear directly from those who experience human adoption. In the first part, I ask questions of adoptive parents and they give answers. In the second part, I follow the same format with adoptees. For space constraints, I limit myself to three couples in part one, and two adoptees in part two, and not all of their responses are published. In one case, the adoptee in part two is the child of one couple in part one.

I aimed for a diverse pool of participants. The adoptive parents are varied in experience and include a younger couple, a middle-aged couple, and a couple from among our seniors. One couple adopted domestically, the other two internationally. Two couples hail from our churches in Classis East, and one from Classis West. One couple adopted more than one child, the other two couples adopted a single child. Two couples have other biological children, one couple does not. Regarding the adoptees, both were adopted internationally, one being female, the other male.

For various reasons, which include the stated preference of some, I decided to keep all the responses anonymous. This will keep our focus on the instructive responses rather than the person(s). In the answers you find below I will not identity the respondent, even according to the general descriptors provided above. I simply state the question, and then give some of the provided answers underneath. You will, however, learn the birth country of the two adoptees, and they are happy to have you know.

May God use these responses to enlighten us and deepen our understanding of human adoption. In adoption, as in all things, God is worthy of our unending doxologies as the One from whom all blessings flow. Jehovah only doeth wondrous works in glory that excel!

Questions for adoptive parents

  1. What have been the blessings for you as adoptive parents (if that is too broad, then the greatest blessing)? 
    1. C1 (Couple 1): The blessings are too many to count! Bringing our children to church for baptism, and watching them as they joined the other children of the church to sing their songs and recite their memory verses for the Sunday School program, attended our own Christian schools, made confession of faith, and married young people from our churches who share like faith. Now they live godly lives and bring up their own children (our grandchildren) in the fear of the Lord. All because God saw fit to give them to us! Also, if we go all the way back to the beginning, several decades ago, we thank God for a very encouraging minister. Through the whole process of adoption, he was very interested, stayed involved, and came with us to the adoption agency when it was time to take home our first child. He said, “This child was born for you. You did not conceive her, carry her, or give birth to her, but it is God’s plan for you that this child becomes yours. If you do not believe this in your hearts, then you may not take this child home with you.” We were parents!
    2. C2 (Couple 2): We adopted our daughter from overseas and raising her has had the same blessings and struggles as with our other children. She brings so much joy to our family in being our eldest child. We have told people in the past that our daughter did not grow in mom’s tummy, she grew inside her heart. l
    3. C3 (Couple 3): The most obvious blessing to us is the fact that our adoption was the beginning of our family. We thought we were unable to have biological children, and God led us to this path. We are ever grateful to Him for it. Being able to experience parenthood by this means is truly the greatest blessing for us, and the realization that you can love and cherish a child as your own without a blood connection is something so profound in and of itself.
  1. What have been the challenges for you as adoptive parents (if that is too broad, then the greatest challenge)?
    1. C1: We have been very blessed, for there was never any resentment in our children in that they were adopted. Some adoptees may have mixed feelings about their adoption, but both our children are very delighted about their adoption and will gladly talk about it whenever the topic comes up. Their adoption was never a secret in our home; we talked about it freely. We are so thankful to God for their understanding of adoption and their love for us as parents. Thankfully, our children have not faced any unique challenges regarding adoption. They have never been treated any differently than any other children in our circles. They have always been accepted and loved. L
    2. C3: The first and foremost challenge for us is that we cannot fully understand the loss that our adopted child has experienced in her life. The loss of one’s biological mother and/or father even at the moment of their birth is something most of us will never understand. It is indeed a “primal wound.” Another challenge for us is that we also will never know our child’s full story, as she was adopted internationally. We will likely not be able to provide a full answer when she asks, “Why did my birth-mom not want me?” The final challenge is that our child’s skin color does not match that of her parents or of her biological sibling. She looks different, and often she says she “wants to match mom and dad.” That will never happen—a struggle that most fully biological families will not have to worry about.
  2. What has the experience of being adoptive parents taught you about God?
    • C1: We have a new appreciation for God’s sovereign plan and how He is pleased to work it out in our lives. We desired to have a large family with many children, but we struggled with infertility for many years. While I (says the wife) had great joy in watching other parents present their newborn infants for baptism, my arms ached. I knew your heart could ache, but I never knew your arms could ache. Mine did, as I saw other mothers holding their babies and I longed to hold a child of my own. We had our plan, but God’s plan, as always, was much better. Through adoption, He gave us two precious children and lovingly provided just what we needed.
    • C2: We see firsthand how adoption applies to us. We know firsthand how we can love someone that started as a stranger and looked nothing like us. Now in our family and in our church, most everyone looks at our daughter as ours. Growing up in our home, she has even taken some of our characteristics, and it would be impossible for us not to have her in our lives. That goes with the church as well; she fits and has a wonderful place. Also, we have learned how God makes all of us different. It was not difficult for us to adopt. It was something that was discussed and finalized in our minds and hearts quite early in our marriage. We know, however, that adoption is not something that everyone can do.
    • C3: There is one application in the picture of adoption that really stood out to us. A big challenge for adoptive parents in adopting initially is establishing a bond with their adopted child. Sometimes, it is difficult for the adopted child to accept the love of their adoptive parents. After all, they were just ripped away from everything they ever knew and carried into a new world. However, we continue to love and nurture our child even if she denies us, similar to how we often (daily) reject our loving Father, but yet He continues to love us as His own adopted children.
  3. What would you want any couple considering adoption to know about the process of adoption, or the life of adoptive parents?
    • C1: These children are a special gift from God, just as any child is, whether adopted or biological. To the best of your ability instruct them and bring them up in the fear of the Lord, love them, and discipline them just as you would with any other child. All children can have problems, so do not have the attitude of some, that adopted children are expected to misbehave and will be more trouble than biological children. Do not be hesitant to discipline adopted children out of fear that they will not love you. That is not right. The Lord says, “Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old, he will not depart from it” (Prov. 22:6).
    • C2: Those who adopt should expect a bit of a critical eye from people. God does tend to save in the line of continued generations. People rightly have this in their minds, but sometimes it can produce a critical eye toward adoption. However, as time goes on, we truly do not feel this as much.
  1. What would you want all the members of the church to know about adoption?
    • C3: Adoption is indeed a wonderful gift of God, and a picture of God’s adoption of us to be His children. However, it is not all sunshine and rainbows, and we should be careful not to paint it through rose-tinted glasses. Also, we must be careful that we do not take the adoption picture too far and force parallels between our spiritual adoption and earthly adoption. Here are two examples:

When we put too much emphasis on the act of adopting by the parents, there is a danger in over celebrating them as a “savior.” To the adoptive child who is nearby or listening to these praises (even in sermons), the adoptive parents appear to be their saviors who deserve nothing less than unconditional gratitude. Saying parents’ adoption of their child is similar to God’s adoption of us may not be wrong in and of itself, but adoptees may hear this and feel obliged to be grateful for their adoption no matter how they are really feeling about the trauma and loss they have endured.

I have also heard some compare spiritual adoption and earthly adoption in terms of the relationship out of which we have been adopted. It is true that when our heavenly Father adopted us, He delivered us from our wicked and tyrannical father Satan, but we must be careful when making a connection to human adoption so that we do not paint a negative image for an adoptee regarding their own birth family and even their culture (thinking about them as evil and as the devil).

Questions for adoptees

  1. What is the greatest blessing for you as an adopted child?
    • A1 (Adoptee 1): I do not know too much about my birth parents. What I do know is that the birth father was not in the picture, so had I not been adopted, it would have been just me and my birth mother. I do not believe that my birth mother was a believer of any kind, so I would have been living in a non-religious home with only one parent. God has blessed me with a loving, Christian family, who has taught me since I was very young about God’s love and faithfulness that endures forever. I am forever grateful for them.
    • A2 (Adoptee 2): I was brought into a Christian home at just under a year of age and my Christian parents raised me to the best of their ability. They provided food, water, shelter, Christian schools, and wanted me to grow and learn in a Christian environment. This has been a blessing for me because if I were still in Russia, I do not know where I would be.
  1. What is the greatest challenge for you as an adopted child?
    • A1: I would not say that I face very many challenges that are different from those that biological children face. However, many people like to stereotype adopted children. Many adoptees have come out of broken homes with a damaged family situation, or have been in and out of foster care for several years. Some people like to assume that I have been under the same circumstances. For example, a couple of weeks ago I was at work and a customer asked me if I was Hawaiian. I said no, then explained that I am South Korean and was adopted into an American family. She then asked me what my story was, how many homes I had been in, and if I was content where I was. I told her that my adoptive family was my first and only family and, of course, I was content.
    • A2: Here and there I try to imagine how my birth parents would have raised me, and what rules they would have had for me if they had not given me up for adoption. I have had trouble in the past with respecting and obeying my parents, and sometimes I wonder if it is because my parents right now are not my birth parents; but that is not an excuse.
  1. What has the experience of adoption taught you about God?
    • A1: Being adopted has taught me how great our God is. There are eight billion people in the world, and by His providence, I was brought to a Christian family who can help me grow in the grace and the knowledge of God. It is amazing to me how the same God who created the immense universe has eternally determined what will happen to every one of us. L
    • A2: That God works in different ways to gather His children together into His love before the end of time, and He does that for all His people in this world. I have much to be thankful for. My adoption shows me how God is a caring Father who looks out for His children. He could have left me in Russia with possibly nothing. Sometimes I need to remind myself and appreciate more my adoption. I need to continue to show love and support to my parents (in good times and bad times) because they have done that to me since my adoption, and when they brought me home.
  1. What would you want all the members of the church to know about adoption?
    • A1: Adoption is so important! Many people are afraid of adopting a child because of the high cost, or the story about how one family’s adoption was full of troubles. If you are considering adopting and are unsure, please reconsider, because God’s children are from every nation, tribe, and tongue. Being adopted, I feel like I can tell a very deep story of God’s goodness and redeeming love. Adoption is a powerful picture of God’s continued work of setting the lonely in families (Ps. 68:6) and of bringing new life.
    • A2: Adoption is one of the greatest blessings of this world, even though there are challenges. First, adopted children should have the same treatment as those who are not adopted. My friend (who was also adopted) and I occasionally felt like we were treated differently at school because of our adoption. Second, those who want to have children but cannot have their own biological children should consider adoption. I know it is a lot of effort, time, and money, but you have parents, family, friends, church members, and most importantly, God who will help you. Adoption provides children with food, water, shelter, and most importantly, a Christian home. I want to get married and have kids, so I will definitely think about adoption.
  1. Are you open to talking to others about your experiences in adoption? If so, what do you like to talk about, and what are questions you enjoy being asked?
    • A1: Absolutely! I am open to talking to others about my experiences with adoption. I always enjoy it when people do not jump to conclusions and make it about something negative. I would not say that there is one thing specifically that I enjoy talking about, and I guess this is not exactly in relation to adoption, but I always enjoy talking about the culture and life in South Korea. I have not put very much effort into keeping up on the culture of South Korea, but it is a place that I would love to visit someday! I also love talking about how adoption shows God’s love for His people, and how blessed we are to be able to adopt, both internationally and nationally.