Five Years, Five Thoughts

In love he predestined us for adoption to himself as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved.--Ephesians 1:5, 6

This is the photo that started us on our journey back in 2011. 

This is the photo that started us on our journey back in 2011. 

Five years ago, on September 17, 2012, our family took a step that has changed our lives forever. A seven-year-old little girl knocked on our hotel room door, marched in, and settled herself down in our lives. No recognition of us as her new family. No expressions of gratitude for the sacrifices made. She was more mesmerized by the comb we had lying on the bed for her. She just combed her hair, with drool leaking out of her mouth.

And that, my friends, is how our life with Cen Fu-Guo, began. Over the past five years, she has slowly become the Anah Christian you may know today. An unwanted infant girl who was found at a road crossing in China is now our daughter. For seven years she was in and out of the orphanage and foster homes. The last five years has been a painstaking piecing together of that story, as best we can. Many times, that sweet little face that captured our hearts is nowhere to be seen.

Anah was diagnosed early on with Down Syndrome. However, what we have realized over the past five years is that the bigger issues stem from being an orphan—not having a home, not having the consistency of parents, routines, and stability. We learned that despite her petite and delicate frame, Anah is tough, and she learned how to adapt and survive in her conditions. But with her limited understanding not all of it has been good.

Adoption is a beautiful picture of the Gospel, of the outcast orphan now becoming a part of a family. [Cue sweeping string ensemble.] But what we often forget is that adoption is also costly—before and after. Yes, adoption is expensive. It costs less to have an abortion than to adopt. But that’s not what I’m talking about.

Adoption is also messy. I naively believed that doing something good would mean that God would take care of every problem we encountered and fix it—quickly. But five years later, we are finding that the hardships we face may never go away. Rather than a broken arm that will eventually heal with time, this adoption is more like learning how to live a new life after your arm has been amputated. It is not the same again.

While we have paid all the bills for the adoption, we are still paying for our choice. It is not the happy fairy-tale ending we wish for. We are still in the midst of the story God is writing, with lots of plot twists and drama. Things are still raw, unresolved, and difficult. I wish it were otherwise.

Anah: five years later.

Anah: five years later.

But the God who adopted us goes before us. He understands how costly adoption is because He has paid the ultimate price for our adoption through the blood of His Son. This will be a lifelong lesson for me; by no means have I fully appreciated it because it is so painful. Some of you may be shocked at how negative I am at points. But I also know that God is up to something good. It just doesn't feel like it most of the time. I invite you to join me this week as I reflect, remember and recount this story of God's goodness.

Update: Here are the posts in this series for your convenience

1. Out With the Old, In With the New

2. Needy, But Needed

3. Too Big and Too Small

4. Crippled But Not Broken

5. A New Vision