By Dan Sadler, Adoptive & Foster Parent
My wife and I have 3 biological children, have fostered 3, and are in the process of adopting 2 of them. Whether kids from the system are 18 months or 18 years, you can almost guarantee that they are “hurt children” who will live with some type of emotional, mental, and/or physical impairment well into their adulthood.
As many know, fostering and adopting have their redemptive moments, but you are putting yourself and your established family on the front lines when you make this decision. However, among the brutal realities of parenting the hurt child, there are 5 gifts you can almost guarantee to receive.
For someone who struggles to see the stuff of the Spirit(Galatians 5) in him, I have seen Spirit-like patience increase in my heart and in my actions since parenting hurt children. Those who parent hurt children will give up quickly or learn about a patience that God actually has with us and our own imperfections.
2) A New Theology
An Ephesians 1 theology that speaks of us being adopted into God’s family through a redemptive sacrifice will soak into your bones. No longer will you be driven by a “get into heaven and out of hell” theology, but one that is much more rich and redemptive as you realize you have been given a new birth certificate and new Father that has fought for your heart since the foundations of the earth were laid.
3) The Gift Of Gratitude
This is not a gratitude that is guaranteed to come from an adopted child, but a gratitude that wells up in you as you realize the neglect and despair you have been shielded from much of your life. Parenting a hurt child puts into perspective the provision of your youth.
4) New Mercies
God says His mercies are new everyday, and this has been so true in our family. I make major parenting mistakes on an hourly basis with my children. Parenting a hurt child demands strategy, tact, patience, and consistency. Needless to say, I rarely have all of them going for me at once. Thank God that He allows me to start over each and every day. His mercies are magnified like never before!
5) Hope for Heaven
I hope I am wrong, but I assume that my children will carry some of their impairments well into adulthood. In fact I would suggest this is the same with most hurt children. This sucks. There is no other way to put it. The world is broken and the implications are more than evident in these kids. Yet as depressing as it is, it creates in us a deep desire for more, for a day when all tears will be wiped away and heaven will overtake and overrun our world. This is a desire we were made for, but often lose in the minute to minute.
May you cherish the gifts, as you choose the rough road ahead.
“Be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord.”
– 1 Corinthians 15:58
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