One Million Arrows Christian Parenting Blog
Posted in: Parenting
- Is Adoption Good for My Family?
Guest Author: Cheryl Railsback| Share |
Recently, Tim and I celebrated our 12th anniversary. Though some might consider it a pretty humdrum day—home with four kids, a pile of laundry, and me sick—we decided that it was our best anniversary ever. While three of our kids played games nearby, our most recently adopted daughter—an orphan from China—laid on top of us in our hammock, patting our faces, giving us kisses, and showing how clearly happy she is with her new world.
About eight years ago, God began preparing my husband and me to "do hard things" with our lives by giving us a vision. Though we'd been raised "Christians," we could see that we had a fairly self-centered belief system that didn't challenge us to "do" anything outside of our comfort zone. Since then, we've adopted two special needs children from China, in addition to our own two biological children.
The first and most frequent question people ask about our adoptions is, "How are your kids handling this? Have they had to give up much?" Without a doubt, having a ministry inside our home has changed their lives! Though we've all been stretched and have had to make the expected sacrifices, adoption has by far been the greatest blessing and learning tool our kids have experienced. I'd like to share the wonderful effects on our children and how they've grown and benefited immensely through this process.
At very young ages, they've experienced the ultimate mission trip—visiting a poor country and bringing the mission field back home in the form of a wounded orphan. Our children now have the opportunity to "live" their Christian faith throughout their childhood and to look out for the best interest of others. How prepared they will be to enter the world as arrows for the Lord! They won't be hindered by a worldly view of Christianity that permits them to say they believe in Jesus and yet to live for themselves or their own comforts. Let me share some examples.
When we first started the adoption, we decided to adopt a girl. At the last minute, God instead prompted a switch to Zeke, a special needs boy. Though longing for a sister, Nicole immediately said, "It's ok, I'll have another knight to fight for me." Then Connor looked at Zeke's picture (a very sad little boy with a cleft palate, dressed like a girl) and said, "Look! He has my same ears."
From that day on, Zeke was their brother, and they never wavered from tremendous loyalty to him, despite the impact this institutionalized, malnourished, neglected two-year-old initially had on our home. During our first moments, Connor stood close by, trying to talk to his new brother, when Zeke grabbed Connor's arm and bit down hard. Connor just looked up at me with tears in his eyes, and a forced smile and said, "It's ok, mom." Now, my children are not angels and they wouldn't respond that way to just anybody. But the opportunity to minister to a hurt little person has been powerful in their lives.
Through it all, our children have learned how to show understanding when the adopted child bites them or pushes them away. They've sacrificially given up some of their own treasures and excesses to show their adopted siblings a kindness they've never known. They've learned a level of patience, forgiveness, and compassion that normal childhoods don't require. They've wrapped their arms around the results of evil in this world and embraced it—even shared their bedrooms with it. It is beautiful and I am so grateful to the Lord for giving our children a chance to live for the Great Commission right here in our home.
Our children have also been made aware that they've had tremendous privileges compared to most children in this world. Born into a middle class, Christian American family with a mom and dad, they've been nurtured and loved since birth and imparted with strong faith in God. Now they can put some of that privilege to use in the form of ministry. They can turn and love a child who hasn't had those advantages.
In fact, they've been able to minister to their adopted siblings from the very first in ways that Tim and I couldn't. The adopted children copied everything they did, laughed at their antics, and starting bonding with them immediately because they treated him with such tender kindness. Recently I watched Nicole practicing words with Micayla, using special education techniques given to us by her therapist, and I realized that she is going to be a far better adoptive mom than I. What awesome, hands-on training. And do you know what is so cool? Our kids don't play house in the basement—they play orphanage!
How are our biological children adjusting to adoption? Though knowingly sacrificing in many areas of their lives during their formative years, now they want to do it again! Even before Tim and I were ready, they were asking us when we were going to adopt another child. And they don't want easy kids. They want to keep bringing home the kids with special needs—needs they know will require yet more sacrifice from them. It absolutely amazes me that they have so naturally and adeptly stepped up to the plate at such young ages! I think back on my childhood and wonder if I could have ever done this, but I wish I'd had the chance to try!
And now at eight, Nicole is planning for a future in a Chinese orphanage. She has already decided the types of classes and daily schedule that she wants "her children" to follow, and she's even enlisted some of her friends to come with her. She's been tremendously inspired by the testimony and biography of Gladys Aylward, and I think she will probably just set out on foot one day if we don't give her airfare to China.
We hope that you've been encouraged and uplifted by reading our family's story. We believe that God is raising up a generation of children and young people who can make an unprecedented impact on (and with) orphans in our world, and adoption is one of the many amazing ways to make this happen. Our greatest hope is that our children will be far more effective, even at young ages, to impact this world for Christ, bringing His mission to fruition so that we can all go HOME! I am confident that He who has begun a good work in them will carry it on to completion, sharpening them into arrows to join His mission.
How is our family doing? Barbara Rainey, wife of Dennis Rainey of FamilyLife, said it beautifully:
"If we hadn't adopted, our family would have missed the touch of the Master's Hand."
The Railsbacks live near Denver, Colorado. Their quiver consists of Nicole (8), Connor (6), Zeke (5), adopted from China at age two with cleft lip/palate and hearing loss, and Micayla (5), adopted from China at age four with cerebral palsy, causing mental and physical disabilities. They are currently in the process of adopting Micayla's best friend from the orphanage in China, Joy JinLing, an eight-year-old orphan suffering from the devastating effects of polio.
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