For 15 years, we had talked about adopting a little girl. There was always the vastness of unanswered questions and reasons why we couldn't or shouldn't. We even went to numerous adoption informational meetings and took home packets from many different agencies—all of which were thrown away over the years. Time after time, however, adoption was brought to our attention through radio broadcasts, magazine articles, or songs on the radio. Then in 2004, the Lord spoke to my wife and impressed upon her that if we did not pursue an adoption, we were being disobedient. The questions and concerns were still there, such as where the money would come from, timing, what agency to use, and all the paperwork involved. It all seemed overwhelming. As we talked and prayed together, we took the step of faith and committed to adopting a little girl from China.
From that initial step of faith, it took us about a year and a half to compile all the paper work, wait, and prepare. I will always be the first to say, however, that my wife did just about all the work, research, and preparation throughout the process. If it were not for her diligence and persistence, the process would not have been completed.
After all the paperwork was completed and the documents were sent to China, the day came when we were approved to adopt a little girl from a special needs list. Due to either the one-child policy in China or this little girl's heart condition, her mother made the difficult decision to leave her next to a fire station on June 13, 2005. In God's providence, our flight left the United States to China on June 13, 2006. We received her when she was 13 months old, and she is 13 years younger than our youngest biological child. I love to say that 13 is our new favorite number.
In preparation for our adoption of this little girl, we read a book entitled, The Lost Daughters of China. In this book, we learned that all the children that are abandoned and taken to an orphanage are given the classification of 'Forsaken.' With that word, my mind raced to recount the plea of Jesus on the cross, "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?" In Scripture, the word translated 'forsaken' literally means to reject, abandon, or be deserted without hope. Upon hearing that our daughter-to-be was known as 'Forsaken,' I was impressed that her new name would be 'Forsaken No More.'
As the truth of that meaning swept over me, I immediately thought of the words of Scripture found in Deuteronomy when the Lord told Joshua, "Be strong and courageous ... for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go." Those words are echoed throughout the Word of God, but no more profoundly than in Psalm 27:10 which tells us in the Amplified Bible, "Although my father and mother have forsaken me, yet the Lord will take me up and adopt me as his child." This truth is also revealed in the reality that each of us has been adopted into God's family by the sacrifice of Jesus' blood that was shed on the cross. A great price was paid for our adoption.
The meaning of adoption in biblical history has been forgotten or blurred in today's understanding. In the time of the Old Testament, an adoptive child was more secure than a biological child in his standing within a family. A naturally born child could lose his standing and promise, but an adopted child was legally secure in his inheritance for life. An adoptive child could never lose that promise. He could never be forsaken again. This became strikingly reminiscent when we signed the adoption papers in China. Before completing the adoption in China, my wife and I had to promise by oath that we would not mistreat our daughter nor forsake her. With joy, the promise was made because she was, "Forsaken No More."
In the beginning, I thought that our family would rescue a little girl from an orphanage, giving her a home full of love and the promise and blessing of a new life. The reality and truth of adoption is that we are the ones who have been blessed. Our adopted daughter has brought us joy beyond words, love beyond measure, and we have been dramatically changed.
For a birthmother, the release of a child is the most difficult and heart-wrenching decision that she can make. It is also the most loving and selfless act that she could perform. The blessing of that love is given both to her child and the adoptive family. The unconditional love of adoption is one of the greatest gifts that can be experienced—next to life itself.
Mark Hiehle is Executive Director of the Eden Clinic in Norman, Oklahoma, and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.