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.