We're approaching the 11th anniversary of our adoption of Russian siblings Jaynie, Cassandra and Mark. Each year as we reach mid summer, memories of the time surrounding the addition of the three of them crowd out other thoughts. Not only do recollections resurface, but this time of year inevitably brings reflection. This year our rumination has revolved around what we have learned about loving others.
Interestingly, God has used His more-recent placement of Daria and Alexander in our family as a grace-filled teaching tool for both of us. Daria and Alexander were older than any of the children we'd preciously added through adoption. When we adopted them in late 2010, Daria was nearly 16, and Alexander was going on 12. We knew enough about both adoption and parenting teens to understand that if we lost their hearts initially, we'd most likely never win them back. Unlike the children we'd parented from infancy, they had no long history with us to look back on to remember that we could be trusted. So, we were gentler, more patient, more long-suffering, more understanding, more forgiving, and better listeners. The result? Daria and Alexander have willingly poured their hearts into our hands, demonstrating confidence in our trustworthiness.
As a parent of kiddos in their early twenties, my pride wishes that I didn't have to admit its taken us this long to "get" a clearer picture of how we're to be imitators of God (Ephesians 5:1,2) as we parent. But that very pride has been a problem all along. It's pride that drives the thought, "I deserve better." And any focus on "me" or "my rights" gets in the way of sacrificial love. Period.
So, in a nutshell, here's a glimpse of where the Lord is taking us:
- No stingy grace!
- No miserly forgiveness!
- No *scrimpy love!
With brokenness over how we've parented in the past, the two of us are fervently studying our Bibles and working to write His word on our hearts as we cry out for the Spirit to change us. Not only do we want to do a better job of parenting all our current children, the Lord still has one more set of siblings for us to love on. The Lord has been perfectly patient with these two sinners. He is so good!