The Grit and Grace of a Failed Adoption

Our first adoption failed in-country.

We found out the boy we had cared for over a 5-month period, who we had been introduced to as “Mama” and “Papa” and who had met our parents and family members who visited us in Nicaragua would be returning to his grandparents. The struggle went on for another month as we tried to figure out the reasoning behind the decision. We prayed, we wrote letters, we explored every avenue we could find to keep him. As the truth unfolded, it became clear that we would have to give back this child we had adopted into our hearts and lives.

It was heart wrenching and the hardest thing either of us has ever had to do. Sleep was our only rest, and the morning brought with it the weight of our responsibility and grief.

Yet (and with God there is always a “Yet”) as grief beat us down, God held us up. As our grief increased, God drew closer.

The Bigger Picture

The beautiful thing about the Bible is that most of it can only be understood as life happens. Psalms 34:18 says “The LORD is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.” I still tear up when I think of this. On one of my morning walks this simple sentence described my universe. My wife and I were two days away from giving our son back. We had been living with this grief and worry of losing him for close to two months. Our spirits were crushed and our hearts broken. YET, God had not departed and hope in our future was not diminished. Even in our deepest grief, we felt God’s hand pushing us forward.

To put it in football terms, there will be fumbles, missed downs, and penalty flags thrown. There will also be field goals, long bombs, and touchdowns. To live only in these ups and downs is to forget that they are all part of a larger game. That our true goal isn’t about only living for the moment but about living for the eventual win God has assured us. Our faith is a long game. The good and bad moments will come and go, but our journey with God and our relationship with him is for eternity.


Our Reason to Hope

I took hope knowing that God had not wasted our love for our son. In the five months we had him, we brought him out of a fog of poverty. We taught him basic English, helped him develop a sense of voice, took him to the beach, the mountains, and the major cities of Nicaragua. We got his cavities filled, his body nourished, his mind opened and engaged. My wife even read through the entire children’s Bible, finishing it the night before we were to give him back.

On that early morning walk, I was reminded that even in the darkest moments God allows you to be light and to have hope because you aren’t just playing for today, but eternity.

Later that week, we would give up our son. Two weeks later, to our surprise and joy, we would accept a six-month old girl into our family. Our adoption went smoothly and we traveled home from Nicaragua in three months. The process worked the way it should. Our daughter is the light of our lives and despite all the ups and downs of the past year, we wouldn’t trade a second of it, even the painful parts. Every day we still miss our son and every day we pray that someone somewhere is being Jesus to him. We continue to work with the government to check on him and we have hope that our time with him was not wasted. With God involved, how could it be?

Chris and Katie, thank you for the inexplicable certainty of your hope. Our hearts ache for your loss, but we echo your confidence that this apparent “change in plans” did not take our all-wise, all-knowing Heavenly Father by surprise. We are grateful that your son had time with you, and we trust that the final chapter of this story–yours, his, your precious daughter’s–will reveal the deep and indisputable purposes of God to work every grief for our good and His glory. 

Help give a child a home.