In 2010, my husband and I were still newlyweds, but we firmly believed God had called us to adopt our first child. We were very young—only 23 and 25—so our options for adoption were limited. Through prayer and guidance from others, we found our adoption agency and decided to pursue an Ethiopian adoption.
When I look back on our adoption journey, I laugh at how much my faith was stretched and how—at the time—I felt that the adoption process would be one of the most difficult journeys I would encounter as a parent. If only I had known what was ahead! We anticipated a nine-month adoption timeline but a variety of factors stretched the process over two years. There were so many details to see to: the paperwork, the revisions of our home study parameters, and the losses and matches of families ahead of us on an agency waitlist. I marvel at how our son was matched to us—it is a miracle that a little boy born in Gambella, Ethiopia, now resides in our home in Brooklyn, NY.
Knowing that God’s divine plan matched us with our son, Israel Biruk, has comforted us in the seasons of doubt after our adoption process was complete. Our son is one of the biggest blessings we have ever received, don’t hear me wrong! He is handsome, charming, silly, and affectionate. However, after bringing our seven-month-old newly adopted son home from Ethiopia, we discovered that he had developmental delays and eventually he earned many diagnoses, including cerebral palsy and autism. Our life went from “typical” to very busy as we learned to advocate for our son and manage a strong therapy routine. There were—and still are—many days where I question my strength and ability to parent this little boy who requires so much patience, physical assistance, and care.
Our journey post-adoption has been significant as God has continued to bless us and care for us. When we have been weak, God gave us strength, and continues to prove His faithfulness to us. Our son recently began to take independent steps just before his fifth birthday. He is learning new words and gaining independence in many aspects.
One of the best gifts as his parents, in the last few weeks, has been through Israel’s love of music. We always have praise and worship songs going in the background of our home, and the music calms him down. Hearing my son sing his version of the songs: I couldn’t run from His presence, Jesus Loves Me and Who Makes the Orphan a Son and Daughter, has again reaffirmed us that God has called us to our son, and that He has a plan for all of our lives.
This past Christmas, my family went to a local park in our Brooklyn neighborhood. We watched as our son independently walked around the playground. It felt like a miracle and we knew it was an answer to many prayers. As 2016 began, we were boldly praying that our son could start walking by Christmas, and here he was, walking on his own at the end of the year. God has been faithful to us—in answering prayers, in comforting us during dark seasons, and in giving us wisdom when we needed it.
We have learned that the purpose of parenthood isn’t for the memories or photos, but the gift of shepherding a child to know and love God. Israel’s developmental challenges have led us to a deeper connection with God, and Israel’s recent songs have refocused our hearts on the true mission of parenting. It’s not about our child meeting developmental goals, or even our expectations of parenthood, but on all of us knowing the love of Christ.
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