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Liz Wamsley reflects on how adopting Milena has been a reminder of her heavenly father's goodness
It has been almost two years since my husband, Ryan, and I felt God unmistakably calling us to adoption.
The Father to the Fatherless didn’t just bring an orphan into a family, he also reworked my understanding of who he is and taught me three major things about how our adoption deeply resembles our adoption by our Heavenly Father.
1. God's timing is always best
God was in preparation mode since the moment Adam and Eve sinned. From those conceptual moments of human history, God had a redemption plan that included many moving parts and lots of people, places and circumstances to get hearts and minds ready to say 'yes' or 'no' to Jesus and to break the curse of sin.
Paperwork started nine months before bringing Milena home. Each day was agonising as we waited for God to reveal the next step in this complicated process. I’m still blown away at the small ways timing made all the difference in confirming God’s plan for us. We received our first donation the day after we heard Milena’s story and saw her sweet face.
We connected with two other adoptive families walking through a similar journey and were able to support, celebrate and grieve with each other all along the way. Early one morning, the Lord even led me to pray for an absurd amount of money ($10,000) to cover all the adoption fee costs. Two days later a couple we barely knew showed up on our porch with a check for $10,000.
Even the timing of legally making Milena’s adoption final was a blessing as it was exactly one year after Ryan left for a mission trip that inspired us to start this adoption journey. God never gets his timing wrong. Our understanding of it is finite but his is infinite. It blesses us as we wait in hope and perseverance.
2. God's Word is legally binding
I still remember the deep emotion I felt as I stared at Milena’s birth certificate and passport with our names on it.
The whole outlook of her life had shifted from bleak to promising and the opportunities now available to her were pretty close to endless. If we had just brought her home without the legal process, we’d have little say and power. But because she now has our last name, it all changes.
This really opened my eyes to the true exchange that occurs when we go from Adam’s family to Jesus’. It’s not just some fluffy feel good stuff. It’s a legal process that totally changes what we have access to. No longer are we held down by our birth right of sin and brokenness. Because we are in Jesus we now legally enter into the fullness of what God has because we are adopted as his children.
3. God is patient in waiting for us to trust him
Although Milena lived in an orphanage she still considered it home. She is fiercely loyal, and being taken from the life she knew for five years was not easy for her. She had high anxiety and felt trapped. She screamed and cried herself to sleep because she was with strangers she had only known for a week.
It took effort on both our parts to grow towards each other in relationship. My husband and I had to persist, stay patient and be firm about who we were and who she was. Milena had to choose to trust us. She saw the way we did life and interacted with our other children and she had to make the decision daily to be “in it” instead of fight it.
We aren’t God, so we don’t have this parenting/adoption thing anywhere near perfect, but it did open my eyes to the way our relationship with God works on all levels. As a new believer or a seasoned believer living in opposition to the world’s ways, we all have our moments where we look to God and say “Yes, I trust you”. He gently reminds us who we are and who he is to us.
This process reminded me of who I once was and who I am now. I have a new appreciation of the reality into which we have been adopted. A friend reminded me the other day that there is a difference between a saying and a lifestyle. Saying we are adopted into God’s family is much different than living like it. Walking through this journey with Milena has given me the confidence to live out my own adoption by my Heavenly Father and lean into the everlasting difference it makes.
Liz Wamsley lives in Fort Wayne, Indiana with her five beautiful kids, amazing husband and eight little chickens
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