Like any unusually difficult season of life, the aftershocks of a failed adoption come with their own degree of pain. For those whose only means of having children is adoption, it’s their version of a miscarriage or infant death. That will be hard for many to understand (as are many of the particular sufferings of others), but it is nevertheless true.
We spent a month in Maryland giving ourselves to a baby whom we considered nothing less than our daughter. Those involved in adoption know there’s really no other way to love except familially. Those involved in life know love is risky business. Those involved with Christ know love is bloody business. You simply don’t hold back in the name of self-protection. So we don’t regret one ounce of what we poured out or one moment we spent cooing as Mom and Dad, brother and sisters.
The adoption didn’t happen and we had to give up what had been given up to us. To say there are a flood of questions is an understatement. To say there have been little answers even moreso. But, in the end, I wonder if we’re even asking the right questions.
We often forget we don’t live in Eden anymore. In Eden, peace reigns. Love reigns. Holiness reigns. There are no adoptions in Eden because their are no orphans. In Eden, we are at home. But as the mystic Meister Eckhart once said, “God is at home. We are in the far country.”
We’ve been evicted from Eden because we didn’t like our Father. We wanted a different Father and he could only be found in “the far country.” So, we traded the world where all things are good for the world where all things require redeeming for good (Rom 8.28). We left the world where all the pieces fit together for the world where most of the pieces are missing. We traded the world where we needed no answers because we had no questions for the world where we have far more questions than answers. We left the land of sense for that of non-sense. We traded the world of life, light and clarity for death, dimness and shadows.
Why did our adoption fail? Was it because we didn’t believe enough? Was it because we believed wrongly? Was it because God punishes us? Was it because we misread the tea leaves? Was it because we are idolaters?
God knows to answer those questions will only lead to a life of superstition and shallow faith. Our adoption failed ultimately because we don’t live in Eden anymore. And in this wilderness of sin, death, rebellion and darkness it’s a wonder that any adoptions succeed.
While failed adoptions bring their own pain, it is part of the larger narrative. Our pain may be unique to our story but it’s not to the Storyteller. Our pain is all part of the same pain that comes from living in exile. If it’s not a failed adoption, it will be something else. Things shouldn’t work out in a land of rebellion against God. That anything does is a reflection of a Gracious God, who leaves his “home” of order to come find us in the wild place. We shouldn’t be surprised that the ball bounces our way every now and then, but that it bounces at all.
God hasn’t come to make our life better. He’s come to make us better. And that requires constant reminders that this world is not our home. God must use pain to provoke longings in us for our true home. The home where he is (Jn 14.3). He could answer every question we have and we would still be unsatisfied. That’s because God says, “I can’t tell you now because I must show you later.” He must bring us back to Eden.
And he will do just that (Rev 22.1-5). In fact, in Christ, he already has (Eph 2.4-7). So before we go idolizing our pain and injustices let’s remember we were the ones who chose the world of dis-ease. We chose the world where crosses must be carried. We chose the world where adoption is necessary, which means a world where they will fail. Why adoptions fail is merely part of the larger question: why has this world failed?
We should be thankful for the glimmers of gospel hope that though we are lost, all is not lost. God has not left us as orphans but has come into the wilderness to bring the orphans home.