Two years ago, my wife and I adopted a girl from North Carolina and as a result of that adoption, our lives changed significantly. Many things we thought we were prepared for, in reality, we weren’t, and conversely, many things we thought we were unprepared for, in reality, we were fully prepared for when those events arose. Adoption is very serious, very scary, yet a very rewarding endeavor. Furthermore, adoption has its own set of myths, both good and bad that either drive individuals to or from adopting a child. Brian Borgman, in his excellent book, After They Are Yours: The Grace and Grit of Adoption, tackles many common issues adoptive parents face, while providing valuable biblical guidance on how to deal with problems that will certainly arise while remaining focused on the task at hand as a parent of an adopted child.
Borgman provides personal insight into the adoption process to include events that took place prior to his own adopted child coming home on a permanent basis, as well as the issues his family faced once their child became part of their family. He aptly dispels many common myths, while providing valuable tools for adoptive parents to consider and implement. As I read this book, I was struck by the commonality of Borgman’s experience with his adopted child mirrors that of our own. While the specific events may be quite different and the respective children’s pasts not quite the same, nonetheless, the underlying issues he faced are essentially the same as those my wife and I faced, both prior to our adoption process being finalized and even to this day. Thus, everything Borgman states in this book had personal significance and applicability. I would venture to say that anyone who has adopted a child will have the same experience when reading this helpful book. On more occasions than I can count, as I read something Borgman said it was as if a light was shone into some areas of concern and struggle my wife and I face.
One prime example is found in Borgman’s chapter on adoption as a ministry of grace. He rightly notes, “Adoptive parents are called to step intentionally into brokenness for the purpose of healing.” For those who may forget the long term nature of this healing process, Borgman reminds them that “it will require a lifetime of ministry.” This is an important truth for adoptive parents to remember. There have been many times when, in the chaos of a day, my wife and I have forgotten the ministry of grace aspect of adoption.
In the midst of the arguing and frustration, in the throes of the battle, adoptive parents must be mindful, as Borgman points out that, “parenting is both ministry and spiritual battle.” Furthermore, adoption is, in and of itself, spiritual warfare. The enemy is never the child. The enemy remains that despicable Enemy of old—Satan, who detests the very thought of a child being rescued through adoption. Borgman’s statement, “the last thing the Enemy wants to risk is to have children raised in the love and light of Christ’s gospel” truly resonated with me as it reminded and refocused what adoption is all about, namely reaching out to a lost and hurting child to bring them to a place of love, protection, and belonging.
Reaching out to a lost and hurting child is exactly what God has done for us as His children. This reality is also driven home by Borgman throughout his book and rightly so. We often forget that what God has done for us should be in turn reflected in how we understand the adoption of a child. In those “what if” moments as Borgman describes them, those times when you may question why you adopted this child, who is throwing a tantrum, being willfully disobedient, or who seems to have issues that are taxing every fiber of your being, it is vital to remember what God has done for us. Moreover, as Borgman so wonderfully comments, “During the tough times, we need to remember that God does have a plan for our adopted children – and for us. He never makes a mistake.”
Borgman also brings a very practical set of tools to bear for those times when you feel like throwing up your hands or when you encounter issues that seem more you can handle. One important aspect is that of the need to avoid escalation and provocation. Adopted children, by definition, come from hard places. The escalation and provocation issue was quite massive in my own home in the first few months after our child came to live with us on a permanent basis. Despite all of the pre-adoption training we received, we were relatively unprepared for the authority battles, and quite honestly, when such situations arose, we took the wrong tact more often than not. The principles Borgman shares such as taming the tongue, avoiding escalation, and most importantly seeking wise counsel, are truly invaluable and should be noted and applied immediately by all who read this book. There are many who have traveled down the road of adoption and who can share their valuable experiences. Borgman wisely notes that it is important to be careful whom you trust to provide counsel to you, with the necessary focus being on a couple who are “spiritually mature and realistic.”
I highly recommend this book for those thinking about adopting, those currently in the adoption process, and for those who have already adopted a child. Borgman’s personal stories repeatedly hit home and the guidance he provides is biblically sound and extremely practical. This book will assuredly be a blessing to those who may feel as if they are overwhelmed in the daily grind of what is often involved with adopting and raising an adopted child.