The Grace of Adoption

2015 | Week of November 16 | #1124

My brother’s birthday is this week. Sending him birthday wishes and presents always causes me to reflect on our relationship. I love him dearly. I’d do anything for him. I say all this as his older, now-adult sister, while still remembering our childhood and teen-years sibling squabbles that caused Mom to often intervene as referee and more, admonishing us often to be nice to each other, after all, we are brother and sister.

Interestingly, my brother and I are not siblings by birth; we are siblings by adoption. I’ve told my adoption story before, but my brother’s bears telling as well. As I heard it from my adopted parents, after I was adopted at 5 months of age, mom and dad immediately asked the adoption agency to begin the process of finding them a baby boy. No way was I going to grow up as an only child! Especially since Mom had wanted six children. With the request made, the wait began.

By the time I was 3, no baby boy had yet arrived at our house. Somewhere between when I was 2 and 3, the adoption agency put me through a battery of tests—aptitude, interests, IQ, etc. The upshot of these tests is that the adoption agency said the reason for the delay in getting a baby boy for our family was that they couldn’t find anyone compatible with me. Wow.

To this day, I find this testing approach ridiculous, especially for toddlers.  Plus, how many families have biological children that are so-called “compatible”? I know many families with children who are polar opposites in just about every way you can imagine. But that’s what they said was the holdup—my lack of compatibility.

At some point in May after I turned 3 in February, the adoption agency must have either given up their compatibility requirement or actually found someone they thought could survive me and called my parents, letting them know they had a baby boy for them. And that’s how John Kenneth, known to me and family as Jack, joined the Appling family and became my brother.  For the record, to this day we are ridiculously different in many, many ways—just like biological brothers and sisters—and in spite of the best efforts of the adoption agency and social workers!

As an adult my brother found his biological mother and father, who never married. He now knows he has half-brothers and half-sisters. He’s even met his biological father and some of his half-siblings. But he’ll tell you, his roots are deeply in the Appling family. Why? Because that is the family God designed to become his earthly “forever family.”  And I’m incredibly grateful for the gift of my brother!

Every successful adoption story is a story of grace—God’s grace.  Frankly, I don’t know of any adoption story that doesn’t begin with a bad situation, sometimes even a tragedy. God takes that situation and through adoption makes the situation about as good as it could be from a human perspective.

Earthly adoption is a beautiful picture of humans who by faith in Jesus Christ are adopted into God’s family. Because of our sin, we were on a path destined for Hell, but God in His grace, sent His only Son Jesus Christ to pay the ransom for our sin so that we could be adopted into the family of God, becoming joint heirs with Jesus Christ!

My brother and I have discussed more than once how good God was in placing us in the home of Bob and Mary Appling. It’s grace.  How good He was to allow us to hear the Gospel and God’s plan of salvation from the time we were babies. That’s grace. For giving us a married mom and dad when we could have just as easily been born to single moms. That’s grace.  For giving us life, when we could have been aborted. That’s grace. For giving us each other. That too is grace.

November is National Adoption Month, and I’m always honored to promote this incredible option, especially as one who has a personal adoption story to tell. I believe in Wisconsin we have many married dads and moms who could and should be considering adopting a child. Of course every adoption doesn’t work out completely well, but many, many do.  I want to encourage families to consider being part of helping children experience the joy—and the grace—of an earthly “forever family.”

This is Julaine Appling for Wisconsin Family Council reminding you the Prophet Hosea said, “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge.”

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