God makes families.
Sometimes these families start in a delivery room, with tear-filled eyes and loud baby cries.
Sometimes families are born out of tears shed for other reasons:
The tears of a teenager, whose physical agony in labor is only surpassed by the heartbreak she feels signing papers that surrender her child to another.
The tears of a woman facing one more miscarriage, or one more failed fertility treatment, or one more night of hollow, aching grief.
The tears shed by an aunt or a grandmother or a cousin whose poverty has made it too hard to care for her orphaned relative. The tears underlying the painful decision to choose an orphanage over a life of desperation.
The hidden, internalized tears of a young person in foster care, once more shuffled to a new house to live. The tears of watching a dream called “home” fade away.
These experiences of loss and grief mark many lives—and they’re not easily or magically overcome. But they can lead toward tears of joy, of miracle, of wonder. To the tears shed when God, in his own way, makes a family.
God makes families through various means—through labor and childbirth, but also through adoption, through foster care, through indefinable ties of love and friendship. A mother’s love isn’t limited by genetics. A child’s bond with his parents isn’t determined by DNA. Even a life-worn teenager or a young adult can become somebody’s baby.
Though often born out of tough choices, painful pasts, and tremendous loss, miracles of love and joy and family occur among us each day through adoption. In this issue of Today’s Christian Woman, we celebrate that miracle.
Lisa Abbott lives this miracle every day within her own God-built family. In “Embracing Adoption’s Realities,” Lisa shares her own adoption journey, but she also cautions against a rosy, idealized view of adoption that overlooks its unique challenges. To love well and to parent well, Lisa believes, adoptive parents need to understand how the experience of adoption impacts their child. In her article, Lisa provides critical insights for couples considering adoption and encouragement for seeking—and trusting— God’s guidance.
Holley Gerth’s story is quite different from Lisa’s, and she describes for TCW her journey through fertility struggles, loss, and longing as she discerned what “family” might mean for her. God makes families, and sometimes God does this in ways that defy our expectations or our cultural conventions. In “A Family Love Story,” Holley describes the surprising way in which God has recently given a brand-new daughter Lovelle, age 21.
Like Holley’s new daughter, Lovelle, many kids and teenagers in our country find themselves in family limbo as they move through the foster care system. How can the church respond to these 400,000 kids? asks Sharen Ford, director of Focus on the Family’s Adoption & Orphan Care Initiative. What difference can it make when Christian families open their homes—and their hearts—to these young people? In “From Foster to Forever,” Amy Simpson talks with Sharen about foster care, foster-to-adopt programs, and the church’s call to step into the gap for these kids.
As we aim to respond to the needs of orphans, adoptive mom Jen Hatmaker cautions us to be wise and discerning about the ethical concerns underlying adoption. In her “The Adoption Crisis” series, Jen examines critical questions concerning poverty and trafficking in international adoption and urges us to respond to God’s call with both compassion and prudence.
God challenged his people through the prophet Isaiah, “Seek justice. Help the oppressed. Defend the cause of orphans” (1:17)—and the same call rings true for us today. But what if we don’t feel led to foster or adopt? In “Pure and Genuine Religion,” TCW’s assistant editor, Natalie Lederhouse, describes how God has drawn her attention to the needs of orphans, and what it can look like to respond—even if that response isn’t adoption. Natalie invites us to take to heart God’s call to care for orphans as we each, individually, pray about what that response may look like in our own lives and families.
In “The Other Side of Adoption,” we look at adoption from a different perspective: through the lens of an adopted child. TCW regular contributor Brittany Bergman interviewed 20something filmmaker Lexi Hiland about reconnecting with the country of her birth and how her adoption journey has impacted her understanding of family, of faith, and of her heavenly Father.
The business of making families isn’t without its challenges, and this is as true for adoptive families as it is for other types of families. Tears and struggles weave in and out through the cords of love that bind families together. While they may have different starts, different longings, different joys, different tears, God makes families. Will you celebrate these families with us?
Grace for you—and for those you love,
God Makes Families
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