Parenting is hard. I’ve been a parent for almost 16 years now, so I’ve dealt with my share of sleepless nights and poopy diapers, temper tantrums and disobedience, puberty and peer pressure. So when God called us to adopt a 7-year-old little girl with Down Syndrome, I knew it would be a challenge, but I had no idea how hard it would really be.
With the birth of each child, God was gracious to reveal sin and selfishness in my own heart, and as each child has grown, God has gradually changed my heart to reflect a little more of His. But Anah Joy came into our family not as a helpless infant, but kind of like a 3-year-old baby in a 7-year-old body. Developmentally, she is like a toddler. In terms of communication, we’re starting at ground zero like an infant. But in strength and stubbornness and established habits, she’s seven years old. So all of a sudden, this “experienced” parent of 3 children is feeling completely incompetent and unprepared to adequately care for this beautiful little girl that is now my daughter. And if the process of parenting the other three has shown the “flashlight” of God’s grace on the sin in my heart, then the process of parenting this one has turned on the “floodlight” to reveal how desperately I need God’s grace and strength and help.
Our homeschool group met today and in between chasing our kids around I got a few minutes to talk with Pastor Jon Hori (who has also recently adopted), and I was encouraged to hear that I’m not alone in this experience. He mentioned that he had blogged about this, so I read his blog tonight (http://nearhisheart.wordpress.com/2012/10/16/adoption-is-easy/) and would encourage you to read it as well.
The solution to this is NOT to avoid adopting an older special needs child. The solution is NOT to not have any children at all. No, the solution is to look again at the Gospel and to see the depths of what God gave up in order to adopt us into His family, to realize how stubborn and sinful and dependent we are, and how sacrificial and strong and gracious His love toward us is. Parenting is hard. But it pales in comparison to the Cross. I struggle to let go of my self-centered desires. Christ’s desires were not self-centered, yet even He had to let go of those desires in order to obey the design of His Father (Matthew 26:39).
Parenting is hard. But God uses the crucible of parenting to purify our hearts and to give us more and more of His heart. May we learn to trust Him deeply in that process…