Lies and the Truth: Part Three and Summary

October 12th, 2015

This post addresses one more lie of the many that affected me during my time of suffering as Tommy’s mama, this one a subtle assumption that is still very widespread within the church.  This false assumption is often communicated in subtle ways but becomes very evident when the response to an adoptive family’s struggles is a hard-hearted, “You asked for this,” or “What did you expect?” or “You made your bed; now lie in it.”


LIE:  Special needs adoption is not a ministry opportunity, it’s a private family decision.  The act of asking for outside help with special needs adoption is proof that you are not cut out to be an adoptive family.  If you can’t handle it completely on your own, before and after bringing your child home, you must have misheard God when you thought He was calling you to adopt.

TRUTH:  Jesus said, “What you do to the least of these you do to Me.”  Helping a special needs adoptive family fulfill this calling is taking an opportunity to minister to Jesus.  

Special needs adoption is one of the most compelling statements of the innate value of all human life, created imago Dei, regardless of the economic or other rating a self-centered utilitarian society assigns them.   

But special needs adoption is also one of the most powerful and vivid pictures we have of the gospel.  It is what God did for us when He redeemed us–utterly needy, messy, and broken outcasts with nothing to offer on our own behalf, helpless to save ourselves–and didn’t just set us free, but drew us into the very heart of His own family, committing to be our Father for eternity.

Following Jesus wholeheartedly will often lead us into the hardest of hard places.  This is, in fact, to be expected if we have a thorough Biblical understanding of what it means to be His disciples.

When we see others follow Him into hard places, ministering in the battlegrounds of our world, it should not take us by surprise when they meet with great difficulty, let alone cause us to conclude that the difficulties mean that they misheard God.     

And that goes for the ministry of special needs adoption.  Those who obey His calling to be special needs adoptive parents will often face extreme challenges.  Reaching out for whatever help is needed in order to succeed as a family in hard circumstances is an act of courage and love.  Adequate, appropriate support can make the difference between a struggling and even disintegrating family and a healthy, thriving one, because we who are a part of the living body of Christ were never meant to bear our burdens alone.

Joe and I long for the day, and have great hope it will come in our lifetimes, when God’s people as the wider family of each adopted child with special needs are the ones standing there with open hearts and hands ready to help when insurance companies deny needed services and government programs run out of funds or put up roadblocks to needed care.

As Les Riley, executive director of The Morning Center, said, “We need to stop acting like the government has unlimited resources and God’s resources are limited.”



There were harsh lies and accusations hurled at me after Tommy died, accusations that he died because I viewed him as of little value, he died rather than one of our biological children because I was showing favoritism and giving better love and care to the others than I was to him, I killed him due to my neglect and negligence, I should be in prison convicted of child endangerment, and many others.

After his death, I was in such a bad place emotionally that even when others–so many others!–spoke compassionate and supportive words to me, I appreciated that they were trying to be nice, but was inwardly convinced that even the nicest must be agreeing that I was a disqualified failure as a mom and human being.

It’s time to be finished with this series and I am eager to move on, so I’ll simply mention that the first turning point came for me the moment I remembered that Satan, not God, is the accuser of the brethren, and when I agree with his harsh judgment of who I am, I am agreeing with the enemy of my soul against the Lover of my soul.

That convinced me to take this battle (and Philippians 4:8-9) very seriously, and although this round has been won, I now know my vulnerabilities much better than I did before.  For me, what I choose not to listen to is just as vital as what I choose to listen to.  So no more listening to lies, no matter where they come from, but I am listening to large portions of Scripture every day.  And asking Him to strengthen me to be faithful to Him and honor Him with my trust even if He again chooses to take me into unbearably hard and dark places.

Who among you fears the Lord?
Who obeys the voice of His Servant?
Who walks in darkness
And has no light?
Let him trust in the name of the Lord
And rely upon his God.







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13 Responses to “Lies and the Truth: Part Three and Summary”

  1. KT says:

    Even my best friend told me, “You asked for this. You don’t get help like a mom who gave birth and something was wrong with the baby. You knew.”

    I was stunned. But she was telling me what countless others also believe. I don’t know why I’m seen as less of a mom just because I chose children with special needs. Why do they stand on the sidelines, watching me struggle, actually saying, “I told you so,” instead of stepping up with a kind, encouraging word or a pizza or an offer to babysit for an hour once a month?

    My own aunt would not watch my three older girls over one night while I took my youngest in for surgery. I can’t count the hours I babysat for her 5 boys during my younger years. She’s a recently retired school teacher, in excellent health, financially sound and lives 15 miles away from me yet I’ve not seen her in a year. I dog sat her dogs for two weeks, they barked all the time, ate the molding off two door frames, tore my screen door, and she gave me $100 and I’ve not seen her since. It hurts!

    I’m learning that faith and despair cannot lie side by side. I’ve chosen to turn to my faith, offer myself up to God’s plan, whatever it is, and hang in there, instead of give in to the despair that was trying to engulf me recently and my situation was far less than yours of losing Tommy.

    I am so sorry that you were judged and accused and treated so badly. My church has general conference every 6 months and it was held last week. One of the talks was about a mother’s love and how it’s the most pure form of love next to the love Christ has for us. I’m so glad that you know not to believe those who would dim the light of Christ. He loves you. He knows your heart, mind and soul. He knows your struggles and efforts. He loves you.

  2. A.J. says:

    Oh, my friend! Such truth in this – how I wish God’s people would see this. No one tells missionaries in need, “You knew this, you chose this. We will not help.” But how many ways do people say this outright and subtly. Like you know, this leads to the pressure to paint a “good” picture all of the time to avoid the criticism. I pray for God’s people to understand – I pray it will be in our lifetime. I love you. Thank you for walking this road before me.

  3. Mary says:

    Thank you! We love you!

  4. MamaV says:

    This is something I have struggled with personally, and always come back to the conclusion that you outlined. We are called to follow God, not to constantly check our qualifications to make sure we can actually do what God has called us to do. Reminds me of Moses and his excuses… God doesn’t care what we can do on our own, because He works through us! I pray that the church will stop seeing suffering servants as “overextended” and start serving in love!

  5. Esther Paris says:

    Thank you for being the conduit of the Heaven Hug from ESD to me today. Thank you for these truths. I wish they hadn’t needed to be so hard-won for you.
    And now: a little ESD Heaven Hug back to you —>
    ESD sent me this video link once upon a time.
    Perhaps you’re already familiar with it.
    But if you aren’t, or if you are & just haven’t looked at it in a while, consider this little note as a Heaven Hug from ESD and go watch for 4 minutes or so.

  6. Lucy says:

    I’m going to admit to believing this lie a little, not specifically about you or certainly that you didn’t love Tommy enough-love is what shines through your posts. Its more about the “you took on too much” or “you asked for it.” Both of which are so unfair and I am so sorry. The commenter above who said her best friend said people would help if you gave birth to a child with special needs but not if you adopted one hit close to home. I’m guilty of thinking that way. Not because you are less of a mother, but because if you chose to take it on, you should be able to handle it all on your own. Of course that is ridiculous and unfair. Who among us have raised our children all by ourselves-disabilities or not? We all rely on help. We all should give help when we can. I apologize for my narrow minded thinking and thank you for helping me open my mind on the topic. Your blog opened my eyes to the plight of orphans around the world. Now it is opening my eyes to my own narrow-minded thinking. What great work you are doing.

  7. Anon says:

    I will add my voice to Lucy’s excellent comment above and say I am guilty of thinking the same about parents adopting special needs especially more than one vs giving birth. I always thought ‘they should know what they were taking on, the chose to do so. In many cases the child is older and not a baby so they should know better’. But slowly but surely seeing you and other families has changed my mind. I was not even convinced it is a ministry, but what is it if not one when someone chooses to go into hardship for a child most would turn away from.

    Most of all seeing your children reacted to Tommy even at his worst moments is what influenced me. I am so sorry you have to go through hate and be exposed to ridicule, but the flip side is you ARE influencing people too and I want you to know that. We may not be as vocal or vicious as the critics but we are there and are influenced for the good by your blog and most of all how you and your family live your life. Tommy was loved, as a son and brother even when your family was stressed and that I could see plain as the nose on my face long before you wrote this series or Tommy died.

  8. Susanna says:

    A.J. YES, all special needs adoptive bloggers are familiar with that pressure to paint only the most positive of possible pictures all the time in the (vain) attempt to avoid negative judgment from others, but honestly, I’d rather not blog at all than blog like that, even though it is completely understandable. We have learned the hard way that there will always be those who see their brother in need and shut up their hearts from him, condemning him for being an unrighteous infidel if his wife could use some temporary help with meals, laundry or housecleaning. I pray that God will send you some of His warmest-hearted people exactly when you need them, just as He has richly done for us, and that they will be blessed greatly for what they do for your family.

  9. Susanna says:

    MamaV, it all goes back to our modern tendency to man-centric theology. Our God is too small, and we are far too powerful in our own eyes.

  10. Susanna says:

    Esther, thank you for sharing this. :) We briefly considered how we might possibly use Philippians 4:4-9 as a stencil going around the top of our new master bedroom, so we would see it every day, but eventually settled on a more practical single verse over our bed (verse 8). :)

  11. Susanna says:

    Lucy, I have to say that your comment is one of the most astounding comments I have ever received. I am sorry to say that I had to read it a few times before it sank in that you are sincere and not being sarcastic. Please forgive me for this. Thank you for your beautiful spirit.

  12. Susanna says:

    Anonymous, Joe just moderated the comments and approved yours, so I just now read it. Thank you so much for writing. You hit me right where I am most struggling right now with the blogging, especially with posting photos, as it’s one thing to wait for the courage to make myself vulnerable here and another to know I’m putting my family out there to be picked apart and mocked. And the whole fake, happy-happy-happy-all-the-time blogging approach makes me feel ill, like trying to eat a lovely sandwich made of play-doh. So I truly appreciate hearing from you; thank you.

  13. Esther Paris says:

    The folks who floor me with WOW are good, decent “parents” who champion for their charges. I see it daily: birth parents, grand-parents, adoptive parents & foster patents.

    I also see crazy people who damage children and society is unable to do anything to stop the madness & mayhem. All we can do is try to help the wounded babies: physically, mentally & emotionally. You can’t argue with crazy and if you can’t prove any laws are being broken, you’re hog-tied.

    But I praise God daily for the courageous folks who step into the breech daily on behalf of wounded children. Often it’s grand-parents or other blood relatives. Less often but just as important and wonderdul and life-affirming it’s adoptive parents, foster parents, and group home staff.

    Last year M performed an amazing dance in the talent show. I don’t know how many hours M practiced, but it was MANY Many many hours. When I saw that two staff from M’s group home took a big chunk of time out of their day to come see the talent show, I cried with sheer joy on behalf of M. M’s blood family wasn’t there but some of M’s CHAMPIONS were there. I’m crying again to think of M and that talent show.

    You are a champion, for ALL of your kids AND for orphans all over the planet.

    Keep on keeping on.

    Love from RI

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