Life Lessons from Adoption Part 1: Love is Expensive

Julie and I have the unique experience, joy and challenge of entering the world of international adoption.  We have been home for a month now with 2 of our 3 adopted boys.  If life is a perpetual school, it feels like we have been in 4 weeks of PhD dissertation proposals.  Here are a few lessons the boys, life and our Savior are teaching us:

1) Love is Expensive.  This is the refrain that has most often crossed my mind over the last two months. Maybe the image that comes to your mind when you read Love is Expensive, is: fine jewelry, bouquets of flowers or fancy restaurants. Those are accurate images, because love often is wrapped in a gift.  But it is so much more.  Love is Expensive, because real love – self-sacrificing for the good of another love – will always cost you something.  It may even cost you more than you budgeted for.

Adoption is expensive.  I don’t just mean financially.  I mean that it costs you physically, emotionally, relationally and spiritually.  Adoption is unnatural.  Forget all those rosy photos and videos you see online, including those posted by me.  They are the 30 second highlights that we hope bring you great joy, but they are not the whole story.  The whole story is inappropriate for public consumption.  If you know an adoptive family, whether they have fostered, adopted domestically or internationally,  they have most likely on more than one occasion asked out loud, “What the He!? have we done?

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We certainly have.  Imagine you were abandoned twice and that you bounced around a few impoverished homes, ultimately landing in institutional care.  Care that is loving, but divided by 30 other children.  And institutional. All of this before you turn 5 years-old.  It’s actually impossible to imagine all the ramifications this has on a child, be it here in the foster care system, or abroad in an orphanage.  Now, imagine you adopt that child.  All of those child’s struggles, pain, insecurities, dysfunctions and challenges become yours.  All of them.  Everything you thought you knew about love and parenting is challenged.  Oh by the way, the methods you have used in parenting your biological children the last eight years – throw them out the door.  You have to learn and adapt to new methods.  1 + 1 no longer equals 2.  These few sentences can’t begin to explain what this reality costs you.  There are 1,000 different variations of this story in other adoptive or foster families.

Did I mention your biological children?  They, with limited ability to emotionally process, inherit all of these new challenges in your home. There are sweet moments of love, joy and play that warm your heart.  There are also consecutive nights of weeping because the old normal – the one that they (and  you) loved, gave them security and predictability – it is gone.  Forever. Or, at least for a long time.

You marriage.  You bank account.  You relationships with your friends.  It all gets changed.  And despite their genuine best efforts, most people cannot understand this.

Why is this? Because Love is Expensive.  It costs us something significant.  If there was no cost in love – it would categorically not be love.  It is the cost that makes it love.

“Be shepherds of the church of God, which he bought with his own blood.” Acts 20:28

“For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your ancestors, but with the precious blood of Christ.” 1 Peter 1:18-18

“For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”  Mark 10:45

The greatest expression of love in human history is when a man – innocent of all crimes, pride, lust or greed – willingly gave His life for the guilty.  It cost Him everything.

This is love! This is how WE are loved!

For those who follow Jesus – this is precisely what we are called to do.  To share in the fellowship of His sufferings – to love like Jesus loved.

To love expensively.  To forgive irrationally.  To give sacrificially. To stop asking, “What will this cost me to love like this?” and begin asking “What will it cost them, if I don’t love like this?”

Love is Expensive.

Worth it?  Absolutely.

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