Why adoption is supposed to be hard: Part 3

By Brandon Clements

What we are finding is that there is a special joy that comes from sharing in the sufferings of Christ, in sacrificing for the good of another. The reason adoption is so representative of the gospel is because chosen suffering is necessary for it to happen, and chosen suffering is exactly the road Jesus walked for us. He willingly got up on that cross and bore every ounce of our affliction. The gospel is not a painless story, and walking through this process has allowed us to see that more clearly than ever.

Honestly, sometimes I don’t even have words for what this feels like, and I just have tears. Sometimes they aren’t all happy tears, but they are good tears. Out of all this, what I do have is a greater appreciation for the suffering that Jesus chose for us. I can’t think of anything else we could have chosen to do in life that would have this effect on our souls and our appreciation for Jesus.

Adoption hurts all that are involved. The wounds are deep, the grief is real and the tears are abundant. None of it is easy, and watching Jeremiah grieve or Sully implode with confusion brings out sorrow that feels overwhelming at times.

But just like the gospel, the great irony is that life comes out of sacrifice. It’s not just hard and then it’s over, but joy and depth and relationship and long-term soul formation flow out of sacrifice. A new family is made through the crucible of suffering, and deeper joys grow out of many sacrifices that fade slowly into unimportance.

Jeremiah gets a family. My wife and I get the joy of a new son and a lifelong experience of the gospel. We get to be challenged and stretched and more aware of our sinfulness and need for Jesus than ever before. Sully and Isla get a brother that they will be immeasurably thankful for one day. They get to have their souls formed in sanctifying ways by becoming family with someone who didn’t have one, and their hearts will grow more beautiful because of it.

Today? Today is hard. We are still in the throes. There is grief all around.

But I keep thinking about five years from now. They’ll be running around our backyard, and who knows who will favor and dislike the others at that point, but Lord willing it will be a gracious riot then. They will hate each other, sure, but in the I-love-you-like-crazy sort of way.

I think about 10 years from now, and all the glorious awkwardness of middle school. I’m hoping they rise to have one another’s backs, to defend their siblings in whatever pointless teenage drama that most certainly will occur. I die for the day that Sully or Isla defiantly say “That’s my brother,” and vice versa.

I think about their wedding days, and how they will feel about one another as they toss bouquets and flip garters. I pray that they will laugh and dance and shed tears that flow out of fierce affection and appreciation for one another. That they will love Jesus with all their might and know from his example that sacrifice makes a soul more beautiful.

I pray that when they look at one another they will know that family is formed by choosing to suffer together, and that the very cores of their being will shine with something that does not come from the core of their being.


Recently I was talking with a guy about adoption, and he was sharing his hesitation. He feels protective, as most good dads do, and he voiced that he just didn’t know if he was okay bringing that level of damage and heartache into his family. He was afraid that doing so would somehow mess up the people he loves most, and he ended by saying he just didn’t know if they could afford to take that risk.

It’s a concern that I understand as I survey the initial effects this has had on our family. His fear hits me too, if I’m honest. But through all of this, and through my prayers for the mature and shining souls I hope our whole family comes to display, I’m starting to think about it very differently.

I’m starting to think that we can’t afford NOT to take that risk.

Adoption hurts, yes. It is supposed to.

But it doesn’t hurt forever.

For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us.

-Romans 8:18

The glory? I’m starting to see it. Just barely…just a hint. But it is there, and it is real, and it knocks me to the floor.

Already I know that I will never be the same. None of us will, in the best way possible.

Published November 29, 2017

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Brandon Clements

Brandon is a pastor at Midtown Fellowship, a family of churches in Columbia, South Carolina. He writes at DearBibleBelt.com and is the co-author of The Simplest Way to Change the World: Biblical Hospitality as a Way of Life.