Right Where You Belong: Thoughts From an Adoptee

As National Adoption Month draws to a close, I’d like to share a few thoughts with you as someone who was adopted and has adopted. These are thoughts I shared at the 2021 Christian Alliance for Orphans Summit in September.

I believe with all my heart—


God wastes nothing.

Every ounce of pain and frustration you’ve experienced on this adoption journey can be used and is useful to God Who loves you beyond anything you could ever comprehend.

The extended wait, the unmet expectations, the hurtful comments, the depleted savings—none of this has escaped His notice.

When Romans 8:28 says, “And we know that for those who love God, all things work together for good,” it isn’t saying all things will work out. But it is promising all things will work together.

While your story may be filled with unbelievable hurt or disappointment, I still believe you’re right where you belong.

Here are four of the major themes many adoptees and adoptive parents wrestle with on the adoption journey. I believe God can weave these four themes together for incredible good in our lives—



1. “Right” (Sovereignty)

Since sovereignty can mean a lot of things to different people, here’s how I define itGod does what He pleases, and nothing and no one can derail His ultimate purposes (Isaiah 46:9–10).

Even with painful chapters in my own adoption journey, I still believe God is either in control of all of my story, or He isn’t in control of any of it. 

We read stories in the Bible: Moses in the basket, Joseph in Egypt, Jonah in the belly of a fish—and we have no problem believing God wrote the narrative (including the painful details), but sometimes it’s harder to believe He writes the story of our lives.

Many of us are good with sovereignty so far as it protects us from harm, but we’re not quite so good with it when it results in our discomfort. And let’s be honest, the adoption journey can be very uncomfortable at times.

So here’s what makes God’s sovereignty a comfort and not a threat:

Our sovereign God is also good. He can be nothing other than good.

God’s sovereignty + God’s goodness means His plans for us are right.


2. “Where” (Community)

If we truly believe God orchestrates the tiniest details for our ultimate good and His glory, we must also believe He has placed us right where He wants us.

The home, neighborhood, church, school, and friend groups you are part of are part of His good plan for you.

Including the grandparents who don’t understand your need to adopt.
Plus the teacher who’s insensitive about family tree projects.
Even the church members who quit offering to help once you were home with your child (and the real work had begun).

If we have eyes for Providence, we’ll always see His goodness.

Like Queen Esther in King Ahasuerus’s court, maybe you’ve been assigned to your community “for such a time as this” (Esther 4:14). But Esther risked her life and comfort with no guarantees of a positive outcome. And so must we if we want to make a difference in our community.

Why are you where you are today? I believe—

God made you for His glory, entrusted you with your story, and will give you the grace to do His will.


3. “You” (identity)

This world is full of shallow identities. A chronic sense of unbelonging in this world is not unique to adoptees. But identity issues can be the source of ongoing hurt and harm to those of us on the adoption journey.

When I was a freshman in college, a doctor prescribed the wrong medication for an ear infection I had, and I ended up losing 100% of my hearing. That’s a fun story for another day: wrong medication and the wrong amount of medication. I had a handful of doctors who believed I would never get my hearing back.

By the grace of God, I have hearing in my right ear, but I’m deaf as a doornail in my left. The only thing my left ear is good for—other than wearing earrings—is it tells me when something is wrong. I generally know we’re going to get bad weather or I know I’m getting sick because my left ear hurts.

I can’t (and shouldn’t!) speak for all adoptees, but I do believe adoption can be a bum ear for people. Adoption can be the thing that hurts when something else in life is going wrong.

In my case, my adoption hurts the most when something else in my life is causing pain.

If you know Jesus as your Savior, your identity is beloved child of God, and your purpose is to glorify Him

With or without all the answers to your questions.
With or without resolution to the hard parts of your story.

Your identity doesn’t change just because you don’t have all the information you wish you had.


4. “Belong” (Security)

As human beings, we have a fundamental need to belong, but it’s important that we understand what belonging is.

Belonging isn’t the same thing as fitting in. In fact, I believe the opposite of belonging is fitting in if you have to change who you are to be accepted.

My 14-year-old son from Thailand is one of the coolest, quirkiest kids I’ve ever met. He loves wearing neckties and patent leather shoes. Last Halloween he dressed up as a Supreme Court Justice. And his favorite thing in the entire world is the weather.

He, along with every man over 80, watches the weather channel obsessively every day—he won’t miss it. He would choose the weather channel over a trip to the movie theater any day. And he has 4 weather radios. (Yes, they all say the same thing, but he listens to them all anyway.)

And I wouldn’t change any of these details. I pray my son understands how deeply and securely he belongs in our family.

And I believe this is a tiny taste of the security and belonging we have in Christ.

Once we understand our place in Christ—how deeply and fully we are loved by Him—the annoying comments and unhelpful questions on the adoption journey may get on our nerves, but they won’t wreck our lives.


So here is what I know. You are wanted, you are chosen, and you are loved. And as long as you obey God and love Him with all your heart, soul, and mind, you can know with certainty you are right where you belong.


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