This year I was blessed to join a group of ladies studying the Biblical book of Jeremiah. Known as the "weeping prophet," Jeremiah speaks often of heartbreak. Yet time and again in his writing, words of hope burst forth in the midst of sorrow. God's holy character is clearly seen but so is His amazing mercy!
In one such passage which also prophesies the coming Messiah, Jeremiah uses the stirring phrase "beauty from ashes." Ashes in ancient times were put on one's head as a symbol of mourning. In some Bible translations, "a crown of beauty" or "a beautiful headdress" is used to illustrate the complete transformation God gives to His people as He turns grief to gladness.
There are unforgettable moments in life when we are privileged to bear witness of this transformation.
Over the last few weeks and specifically last Sunday, this has been our experience as our oldest daughter has reconnected with her birth family. Seventeen years ago, Pedro and I experienced the beauty of adoption out of the ashes of sorrow, pain and sacrificial love borne by a young couple who chose us as their daughter's parents. For us, our ashes of infertility instantly became the beauty of family. For them, it would be many more years before this beauty was seen.
Adoption is loss and redemption.
The ripples of loss are felt by the birth mother who labors to bring a baby into this world; holds her as long as the hospital stay allows; and achingly considers which parents might best fulfill her hopes for this precious child. They are felt by the birth father who spends years questioning whether his child will harbor resentment for the choice he helped to make. These ripples extend to the birth grandmother who annually bakes a birthday cake in honor of the granddaughter she held only once, and to the birth brother who learns of his sister's existence when he is nearly an adult himself. And notwithstanding the joy, love and belonging found in the only home she has ever known, this loss is still felt at times in the heart of the child who wonders how her story began.
To truly celebrate adoption and honor it as a loving choice, we must first acknowledge the reality of loss. Only then can we rejoice in redemption - that wondrous exchange of uncertainty for knowing; of longing for holding; and of tenuous hope for joyful fulfillment. It is hearing the words, "You have given her everything I ever hoped for." It is the bittersweet weight of awe and gratitude that God would have granted such a privilege to us, and thus far enabled us to fulfill expectations by His grace and mercy alone.
We are so thankful that in His perfect timing just before we returned overseas, God allowed this reunion to take place. We are so thankful that He answered years of questions and brought healing to wounded hearts. We are so thankful that He sees the past, present and future and does all things for our good and for His glory. We are so thankful for losses redeemed, and beauty reclaimed from ashes. We are so thankful for adoption!