Post-Adoption: Does it {heartache, pain, anxiety, memories} all vanish when it's over?

Our adoption process was about two years + three months. Now, this may seem like a long time for some of you, but others are already passing those marks and don't have an end in sight. Adoption, no matter the length, is HARD stuff. The wait is awful for most families. There are certainly some speedy, miraculous adoption stories (and trust me: those who are knee-deep in the waiting trenches DO NOT like to hear about those stories). For most adoptive families, the journey is marked by patience, testing, trials, victories, hopes, and changed expectations. Some liken it to a roller coaster, and that is an analogy I certainly understood.

Often times I would hear things such as "once your son is home, this will all be a distant memory" or "you will forget all the hardships".

Being home six months now, I feel like I can speak on that.

My joy in having my son home does not evaporate the pain of the adoption. There are several pains I am referring to here, folks. First, the pain of the wait. I never experienced child birth or contractions, but I experienced so many sleepless nights, times when I sobbed myself to sleep over the ache for a child I didn't know, and days where I felt like I was in a fog while a member of my family was separated from me by an ocean. The pain was real, friends. And although I am so happy now that my son will NEVER be in an orphanage again, and that I don't have to wonder about his safety or well-being... those days were real, and those seasons shaped me. My heart was being knit to my son's before I knew him. And after I met him, and had to leave him in Ethiopia... ugh those were the worst months of my life. I don't think I can look back onto 2011 (and into 2012) without cringing. It was a tough year, yall. Having my son home now does not make me forget the emotions that came with the process.

Second, the pain of loss. Adoption is beautiful! There is so much gained in adoption, such as a family for an orphan, a child for a family, etc. But preceding every adoption is loss. For our son, the loss of his heritage, his birth family, strong ties to his Ethiopian culture. For us, the loss of the first 7 months of his life, any background knowledge on him, and the gaps in his story. There are some things we will never know, and never be able to teach to our son. There is a part of Israel Biruk's heritage that we will never be able to accurately teach him. There are some big questions we have that will never be answered. Every milestone my son will have, including birthdays, I will be reminded of what he has lost. When I see my friends with full pregnant bellies, I feel the loss of carrying Israel and knowing him as a baby.

So, do we forget those difficult things? Of course not. They shape us, make us into better parents and increase our faith. I have known God in a new way as a parent who aches for a child to be reconciled. I have seen God stretch me and have relied on the Holy Spirit more in my daily living.

If it is so hard, and you don't ever forget it, then why is it worth it?  

First and foremost, adoption is a picture of the gospel. Our family sacrificed, advocated and traveled to bring one child into our family because that child had no one to claim him. In a much, much bigger way, God sent his only son Jesus to die for us, so that we sinners would have a way to be in God's family. Any smidgen of pain, loss, or heartache we experienced we consider a blessing because we were able to be identified with Christ and his suffering. Our family's story points to the gospel and that, my friends, is something we never want to forget.

Second, our trials as parents are trivial compared to the losses of the kids who need families. It is healthy for me to remember that my son has endured SO MUCH in his short life, and yet he is home forever. There are millions - MILLIONS!!!- of kids that are out there who have endured so much and have no one fighting, crying, aching for them. There are kids who are not in the beautiful transition homes like Hannah's Hope- they are in disgusting, cruel places or are being trafficked or trained to do awful things. Who is praying for these kiddos and crying out to God for them to be brought home? There are many nights that I am brought back to our second trip in Ethiopia, when we saw so many new faces at our son's transition home. I was reminded that just because our son was coming home, there were more kids that needed families.

Finally, the pain of adoption gives us hope for Christ's return. Every time that my husband hears of a child dying, someone with cancer, injustice, etc, he always says "come quickly Lord Jesus." I love this about him and I love that he reminds me that the reason that there is injustice, children without families, parents who cannot care for their kids, etc, is because the world is broken. One day, Christ will return and will redeem and restore the earth once and for all. There will be no more sin, no more pain, no more aching for things to be made right. As Christians, we have this hope and that allows for us to see beyond the pain and trials we experience here.

If you're in the trenches of adoption, if you're in another kind of trial, or even if you're in a season of fruitfulness - I hope that I can encourage you today to just rest in the gospel. Remember that God has a purpose for all the seasons we go through. In my opinion, it is unwise to forget what we have gone through. See how God is using your season to reflect the gospel. And if you cannot see how God is working in your life, then put your hope in Christ and His return.


  1. Awesome post Rebekah!! Great reminder for us right now, in the trenches. I need to be reminded of this daily right now, thanks!!

  2. Oh girl, this is so very good. When people say, you just forget that whole waiting thing, I think no way will I ever forget those two+ years. Most sanctifying time in my life thus far.

    There have been so many times during this process where I have thought, come Lord Jesus. Seeing the hurt in the world and not being able to "fix" it all is just hard. Praying for that day!

  3. I think the adoption process has truly helped me understand more about waiting in hopeful expectation of when Jesus returns... and it is nice to hear about your feelings "on the other side" of things. I can't imagine forgetting

  4. wonderful post!!! So perfectly said..


Post a Comment

Thanks for leaving a comment. I like to reply via email so make sure your email is connected to your Blogger account!