Emily: Welcome back to another episode of Risen Motherhood. I’m Emily Jensen here with my sister-in-law, Laura Wifler. We’re really excited about today’s topic. It’s about adoption. Laura and I have been chatting about this for a while. We know some of you guys are interested in hearing this story, about adoption and how it is a picture of the Gospel. Laura is going to share a little bit of her story today and how she came to that understanding.
This is a process she’s been going through with her husband for a while now, so she’ll be talking about that, but just wanted to put a quick plug for anyone out there who’s not adopting and wondering, “Okay, should I go ahead and listen to the next episode instead?” Stay tuned because this is wonderful for anyone. You may have a family member that adopts, you may have someone at your church who adopts, or you just need a reminder today of how beautiful the Gospel is and how much God loves you. Please stay tuned and I think you’ll be encouraged by this. You never know when God is going to plant a seed of adoption in your own hearts. [laughter]
We’re excited. Laura, would you share really quick where you guys are at, in the process of adoption and all that?
Laura: We have in the process for under a year. We just completed our dossier, which basically is a collection of documents that represents us in front of the government of the country that we’re adopting from. We’ve just completed that; we’re waiting for approval. Once that approval comes, we are eligible for our children, so that’s really exciting. We’re adopting, hopefully, two children, ages zero to four, from Bulgaria. From the time of approval, it will probably be somewhere from one to three years for when we bring our children home. That is the massive nutshell of where we’ve been, [laughter] where we are and where we hope to be.
Emily: It is such a nutshell, and as Laura will talk about more, it’s an all-consuming thing when you decide to adopt so it’s a big process. Backing up, because a lot of times, this is something that people process through silently or just with their spouse, can you describe how you warmed up to the idea of adoption and how God brought that from something you saw somebody else doing, to something that became real for your life?
Laura: I can totally attest to doing a 180 on adoption. It was a few months after we got married and my husband randomly brought up in the car: “Hey, let’s adopt some day. I think we should adopt.” It was like thought he grew a third eye. [laughter] I was like, “No, that’s a plan B. That is sort of weird. That’s if you can’t have children. We’re not even talking about children; let’s wait.” That was the first time that I had thought to myself, “Weird, should that be something that we do?” and it was an immediate no.
Then, we were living in Minneapolis at the time, and we were going to a church and there was a strong adoption culture there. We didn’t pick the church for that reason, but there were a lot of families that looked different from another and international and domestic adoption were everywhere. They were having conferences, people were talking about it; it was very much a culture. That was a God thing, I think, of putting us in a church where it became normalized for me to see families with bio kids and adopted kids or all adopted kids. It was really neat to see it lived out.
Then the nail in the coffin for me was when we started volunteering at an inner city ministry through our church and we were paired with cousins, my husband and I – this was before we had children. It was really difficult to see their plight first-hand and to see the difficulties that not having involved or loving present parents created. These children were not orphans, but they were very displaced, often not living with their parents and in different places. It was crazy because we knew these kids were good kids. We knew these kids desired to do what is right but because they really didn’t have anyone to guide them, or love them, or show them the right things to do, or how to behave, or how to conduct and process emotions and things like that, there were a lot of struggles and problems. That for me was just – I had these wishes and hopes for these children, seeing the difference parenting makes and I wasn’t even a mom yet. I thought, “Gosh, if we can help a couple of kids who are even more disadvantaged than these children, or don’t even have parents, that’s something that maybe I want to do.” It was a very weird feeling.
Emily: Having talked to you, I know that’s a huge flyover. Whenever people tell these stories, there’s always 500 more details. If you want to read more about that, I know Laura started to write about that on her blog. We’ll include those things in the show notes because I know those of you who may be considering adoption are wanting to know all of those things too. Today specifically, especially because it’s Risen Motherhood and we love talking about the Gospel here and how it impacts us, we wanted to talk about how adoption is a picture of the Gospel. Laura, can you get us started by sharing a little bit about why adoption became important to you because the Gospel is important to you? That’s a huge ask. [laughter]
Laura: Basically, adoption should matter to every believer, to all of the moms that are listening, and to everyone, because we have been adopted. The Gospel of redemption is adoption. I was adopted when I was five years old. That is a pale representation, of course. It’s not the way that we think of adoption, but it is adoption in its greatest form. God went so much more above and beyond than what we humans do in our adoption efforts.
I love it because unlike my own plans, God’s plan for adoption wasn’t plan B; it was always plan A. He always wanted to redeem us. He predestined us before the foundation of the world to be adopted as his heirs. On Risen Motherhood, we like to talk about creation, fall, redemption, and restoration. If we get into the fall, you can think about when Eve ate that fruit. The day she took a bite, the world turned into an orphanage. We became distant from God, our sin separated us from our true home and the whole world became filled with orphans and we were orphans that didn’t even realize what we were.
That’s where the great story of adoption comes in - our redemptive story. Christ came here to earth, sacrificed for us, He died for our sins and when our hearts begin to understand this and to believe this, then we become part of a new family. I am blown away, when I think about how God, the righteous judge, became my father. I am his daughter and so adoption is this beautiful wonderful picture of our identity, of our inheritance and even what our mission is as believers, which we’ll go through hopefully throughout today’s show.
Emily: Laura, I love everything you said, I think with inheritance of how undeserved it is. My husband and I only have a very small experience with inheritance. Over and over again, we realize the only reason why we have this resource or this thing coming is because of our family name. We didn’t do anything to earn it; we didn’t do anything to deserve it. It wasn’t because we jumped through a bunch of hoops or said we were grateful or did something right. It was just because we were in the family. I think that is so true of adoption, of the benefits that adopted children receive, are not because they’ve done something particularly good to deserve to be adopted. They were chosen and then then they get to receive all of the benefits of being in that family just because they’re loved. I love thinking through that part of adoption.
Laura: That goes along with identity because adoption should show you that you don’t have a right to God’s mercy, to His glory, His grace, or His kindness. That isn’t something that you deserve, like the inheritance that Emily was speaking of, it is simply because of your family name. Before Christ, we were lost but now we’re found. Before Christ, we were the stranger, now we’re the child. We lived in fear, now live in hope. We were a slave and now we’re an heir. We no longer have to serve the accuser but now we can cry “Abba Father.”
I love that identity factor, exactly what you were talking about and that makes me want to repent of my sins. It reminds me of, “Man, I cannot do this on my own.” I am so grateful for this undeserved, unrelenting, this love that I cannot stop no matter how bad I am, but that Christ continues to say, “You are still my daughter and you still will receive this inheritance.”
Emily: The other exciting thing about our identity is that once we are identified with Christ, we become like Him and we are sanctified and we are made more and more into His image. Likewise, that’s another thing I’ve come to think about with adoption, of watching your process and thinking through the concept of, that child, wherever they are, whoever they are, doing whatever they are doing, and then they get brought into a family. They get that last name, and they are officially in the family, but it takes time for them to become like the family. For them to start taking on some of the characteristics or the behaviors or the traditions or the expectations. It takes time, it takes discipline, it takes love and all of that.
That is what God does for us. He brings us into His family before we’ve done anything; adopts us, give us a new last name, a new identity, but then from there on out, it’s about becoming like Jesus; becoming like our Brother -becoming like our Father. It’s so fun to watch an adopted family – if you’ve ever seen one – their kids come in and what they are like from day one to three, four, five years later. You get to watch that child become like their family and that is what Jesus does for us.
Laura: That last piece of our identity, that mission part, it really plays a lot into whoever is listening today. If you have never thought about adoption and thought it was sort of weird, or wanted to just admire it from afar, (I know that was me) it’s something I’m learning. In Adopted For Life by Russell Moore – it’s a great book if you’re even considering adoption or you know anyone who’s adopting, read that book – in that book, he talks a lot about how adoption isn’t mere charity; it isn’t just that - it’s war. It’s war against the accuser because the world would have us believe that caring for the orphan is charity. It’s because we’re nice and because we’re good people. Instead, as believers, part of our mission is part of the great commission and to go and to care for the orphan because it’s part of our theology as believers, because Jesus called us to love our neighbors. We want to love others more than ourselves and we are called to advocate for disadvantaged, for the helpless, for the abandoned because Christ first loved us.
Emily, maybe you can speak too as someone who is watching it not from that far away.
Emily: I think the other side to that is even if you’re not specifically called to adoption, I’m still called to love orphans. One way we can do that is even if we’re not directly bringing an orphan into our home, it’s been amazing to come alongside Laura and her husband, and pray for them and say, “Hey, can we help financially with this?” or, “How can we support you?” and pray for those children. I know that there’s going to be many, many years to come where there will be love that we can pour into those children. It takes a village and we get to participate in telling those once orphans and someday Wiflers, all about Jesus and coming alongside them. Even if you aren’t adopting, that doesn’t absolve us of getting involved in the lives of people who are on the front lines of caring for orphans in whatever way that looks like, and it’s going to look different for all of us; that’s okay.
Laura: I would say as someone who is going through this process, it means so much when people ask. It means so much when they remember what is going on. People are always like, “I don’t remember what that word means. I don’t remember this or that,” and I’m like, “No problem, I’ll re-update you,” because if you think about a regular pregnancy, how much a pregnant mom wants to talk about babies, that’s how an adoptive momma feels. She wants it to be celebrated and it to be exciting for people. If you’re not adopting or feeling like, “That’s what I’m called to,” showing that excitement to an adoptive mom is really loving. And praying for her as Emily said. There are a lot of ways. Even driving to a crisis pregnancy center and dropping of diapers or volunteering at a local shelter. There are a lot of ways to care for the orphan or those that are less advantaged than us.
Emily: Even just acknowledging the sacrifice that they’re making. Everybody talks about how hard pregnancy is and how hard labor and delivery. I have watched Laura and I don’t think I could make it through the paperwork. [laughter] It is sacrifice too. It is a choice to go and fill out that mundane paperwork over and over, and have all the visits, and run all over town, and get all these official things, and it costs a lot financially. It’s costly to give life. It was costly for Christ to give life to us – much, much more than this – but it is a picture of that too, to validate that process I think for the parents.
Laura: I feel like we could do a whole show on how to help an adoptive mom and we will someday. I know that this will be a continual conversation on Risen Motherhood because it is so close to Emily and myself and any believer’s heart. Adoption is something that we don’t really think about in terms of what’s happened to us. We like to think we’re “in.” That is was coming to us and we get to be with Christ one day in glory, but really, that is because we are adopted! We can all be deeply grateful and we are deeply indebted to adoption and what it’s done for us.
Emily: We know that was a huge flyover and we did not get to get into Laura’s personal story quite as much as we were originally planning but we always pray for the show and ask God to use whatever words He wants and so this is where we started today. As Laura said, we’ll be doing follow-up shows as time goes by. If there’s a specific aspect of adoption that you are wanting to hear more about, definitely let us know. As we mentioned before, we are going to have show notes of more of the details of Laura’s story and some of the other things she’s written so you can go read about that and then some of the other resources mentioned on the show. Don’t forget, find us on social media, @RisenMotherhood, go like the Facebook page or Instagram if you want more content like this. You can find everything on our website risenmotherhood.com. Finally, as we always mention, it would be so helpful to us if you could leave a rating or a review on iTunes and review, of probably both. Thank you in advance for doing that and thanks for joining us today.