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Romanticizing Life

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Romanticizing adoption is so very easy and tempting to do.

But adoption always involves suffering. Just ask any birthmother or any child who is one of three hundred orphans in a Chinese orphanage or any adoptive couple who has lived with infertility for years or any adoptive couple who is experiencing the high-ups and low-downs of the adoption process. Sometimes the suffering is deeply intense and ongoing—like that of an orphan languishing each day in a nightmarish orphanage—while other times it’s the heavy heart of the couple waiting to bring their child home. There is no such thing as adoption without suffering.

The same thing is true of our Adoption through Jesus Christ. The Adoption to which we were predestined (Eph. 1:5) could not have happened without Jesus redeeming us “through his blood” (Eph. 1:7). There is no such thing as being Adopted into God’s family apart from the suffering of Jesus. Jesus cried “Abba! Father!” in the Garden of Gethsemane (Mark 14:36) so that we could become sons of God who cry “Abba! Father!” by the Spirit (Rom. 8:15). Our Adoption necessarily involved suffering—infinite and glorious suffering.

The view through a window I love windows. They allow me to sit in a small “world” (in an airplane, for example) and look out into a big world. Through windows we can see beautiful beaches, lush green meadows, and towering snowcapped mountains.

I once sat in a small room in China looking out through a window that allowed me to see a beautiful mountain vista. I was very thankful for that window because the room I sat in was hot, humid, and confining. The window allowed me to see a “world” that I would not have seen otherwise; and it opened up for me an experience of joy that my little room could have never given me. But in order to look through that window I had to sit in a room of uncomfortable and sometimes suffocating humidity.

Our suffering now as the children of God is a window that provides us with the opportunity to get glimpses of a world more beautiful and more wonderful than can be imagined. Paul writes, “we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for Adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies” (Rom. 8:23). You don’t groan unless you are suffering. Happy people don’t groan. Suffering people do. Orphans groan. Poverty stricken families groan. Birthmothers groan. Adoptive families groan. A broken world groans.

But with the eyes of faith suffering people who have been given the Spirit of Adoption (Rom. 8:15) can look through the window of their suffering into a future world where all things are made new. Because of the gospel, our window of suffering provides us with the opportunity to get glimpses (with the eyes of faith) of a future world that “will be set free from its bondage to corruption,” a world that will “obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God” (Rom. 8:21).

Yes, we still suffer, but we do not suffer as those without hope (1 Thess. 4:13-14). Because of Jesus and the gift of the Spirit of Adoption, God turns our suffering into a window that allows the eyes of faith to get glimpses of what will one day be.

Though there is no such thing as Adoption without suffering, for the Christian there is also no such thing as Adoption without glory and unspeakable joy. Right now we live in “the sufferings of this present time” (Rom. 8:18), but there is coming a day when all who have been Adopted by God through the suffering of Jesus will “be glorified with him” (Rom. 8:17). We will one day share in the glory of the resurrected Jesus. This means that the day is coming when everything sad will come untrue (Yes, Sam, everything sad will come untrue). This is the good news of the gospel. This is the hope that moves us forward in “the sufferings of this present time.”

So, whatever kind of suffering you are being confronted with in the adoption of a child (whether the “you” is the birthmother, birthfather, child, adoptive parent, or even the biological child of the adoptive parent), don’t lose sight of the gospel. Only the gospel can fill you with fresh hope, endurance, and, yes, even joy in the midst of your heartache now. Your Adoption through Jesus Christ has profound relevance for the adoption of a child (and all the suffering involved in it). And it’s part of the best Story ever told, a Story told by God himself!

Behold I am making all things new

*This is a slightly re-worked post from 2011.

Learn more about our upcoming October 4-5 national conference in Louisville, KY. Our conference trailer:

  • Mike Snyder

    Thank you for this.

  • DanCruver

    Thank you for reading, Mike. Always appreciated.

  • Dorothy

    Thanks for bringing this to the forefront again. Because many Christians glorify adoption, they do not know how to suffer with others who are in the midst of suffering because of their involvement in the adoption experience (whether as a birthparent, adoptive parent, or adoptee).

  • DanCruver

    Very well said, Dorothy. Thank you.

  • Judy

    Thank you for your post. I’ve never read an article like this, but I appreciate its truth. I wish I had read it 8 years ago before the adoption of our daughter.

  • Rebecca

    As a birth mother, I am very thankful for this article. The beauty of adoption does not come with out much sorrow. Perhaps it is the grief and sorrow that make it profoundly and deeply beautiful. Much like the cross and the resurrection.

  • jack

    Out 11 year old (adopted girl from China) is what everyone would call a very successful adoption. Yet, the other night she told her stuffed animals that she would never get rid of them. That was a reality check.

  • DanCruver

    Thank you for sharing, Jack.

  • DanCruver


    I can only imagine the grief and sorrow you have felt and continue to feel. My wife and I experienced the death of one of our biological children when he was 3 years old. You are right, because of the cross and resurrection, our grief and sorrow are sanctified unto us.

    Thank you for sharing.



  • DanCruver


    Our first adoption was 11 years ago. I sure wish I knew then what I know now. But God has been so kind to our family and our family’s journey.


  • Sara Tusant

    Thank you for writing this post. My husband and I have adopted four beautiful children. Two years ago, we lost our son tragically and the devastation of that night still lingers in our hearts. However, the hurtful words from others around us was another issue that we were not prepared for. Comments like, “you did things the easy way by adopting” or “at least you didn’t have to labor for hours” and the most hurtful of all, “why are you grieving so much, it’s not like he was your own child”. Most people who have not adopted or who have not lost a child can not fathom the hurt that they impose on people with their insensitive words. The ministry of adoption is just that, its a ministry. Full of unknowns, big dreams, major life changes and enormous amounts of blessings. I can say with confidence that I understand why the Lord said to not forget the orphans and we in no way did it the easy way and I have labored for more then hours and I grieve deeply for the son we lost. I hope and pray that many more people will open their hearts to adoption and read words like yours so that they too can understand what perfect love is. Love that knows no walls, has no boundaries and has no fear. The love of an adopted family.
    Sara Tusant

  • Shannon

    Yes! Sometimes people are so afraid of deterring families from adoption that they cover up (or gloss over…or sugar coat…) the hard things. No one is served by false information, though. It’s an added burden for all parties involved when we have to walk the balance between the false prophets who romanticize adoption, and the negative armchair quarterbacks in the peanut gallery.

  • DanCruver

    Amen. Well said, Shannon.

  • DanCruver


    Oh my. I have no words. I’m so sorry.


  • Judy

    Since we adopted in 2010, we have been able to see two of our couple friends adopt as well. It was a painful journey of infertility that each one had to walk through, but now seeing them with their sweet babies just brings such joy. God has an amazing plan for each of our lives and taking situations (whether it be the birth side of the situation or the adoptive familly side) so blackened and painful and just using them for His good and glory still amazes me!

  • joshtuttle

    Thanks, Dan. Great post!
    I think I remember reading it the first time, but can understand the truth of it even better today.

    Longing for that day while living in this one,

  • cassandrasines

    Thank you so much for sharing this! My husband and I have three children through the miracle of adoption. Our most recent was finalized two years ago yesterday. We are going through some very difficult times with our daughter and I definitely needed this reminder!!!

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  • DanCruver

    Good to hear from you, Josh! It’s been a while! Hope you are doing well. Thanks for checking in!

    Longing for that day, too, while living in this one,


  • DanCruver

    I’m glad you found some encouragement in this post. Many blessings to you and your family on this journey!


  • DanCruver

    Thank you for sharing, Judy. So many stories to be told…


  • Erin

    The timing of this article for me couldn’t have been more perfect. We are foster parents who may adopt our foster son in the future. Along the way we have had some major adjustments, meltdowns, moments of sheer terror, and so on as we try to mesh this 2 year old with My husband, myself, and our 7 year old. It has not been easy, and I’ve felt like a failure at almost every turn. But this I know, God doesn’t want us to quit. So we won’t. All you praying people, we could sure use some! Thank you for this article. And thank you God for your timing, perfect as always!

  • DanCruver


    Seems I’m slowly learning to take all of my parental failure and regret to Jesus’ cross, leave it there, and then fix my eyes on his resurrection anew each day. Not easy to do! But absolutely essential for survival, isn’t it?

    I’m glad the timing of this blog post served you well. Thank you for commenting.


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  • Mdelu

    Fabulous! We have NO regrets..but we too have been shocked at both the joy and pain adoption has brought to our lives. It is worth it all, but I think a more well rounded education is ESSENTIAL for,pre adoptive parents!!! There are just too many rainbow and butterfly stories out there, that when things don’t go perfect, families feel ashamed and alone like there is something wrong with them…

    One of our sons has suffered with attachment issues, and it’s been just awful how cruel those around us, especially our families have been. We have five children, 2 from China, and the lack of support, isolation and insults about our parenting has led us to very!! Difficult decisions. We are planning on moving soon…many dont consider what will happen IF your t support group dissolves during the hard times….we have to remember to lean on God and forgive human flaws…

  • DanCruver


    Excellent points! I fully agree with you. Thanks for sharing. Your insights are so helpful and wise.


  • Erika Finn

    thank you for this! it needs to be said – i appreciate it so! <3

  • DanCruver

    Thank you, Erika!!

  • Pingback: Romanticizing adoption? Stories Without Suffering are Bad Stories (Part 2) « Together for Adoption

  • Eun Sung Roh

    Thank you so much. This is lelpful to develop my thesis. Actually, I’m writing a thesis for adoption ministry at the SBTS in ED.D. To be specific, Adoption Ministry in a local church in Korea: Helping Adoptive Families. I’m not sure whether you know well or not about Korean circumstances, anyway, Adoption is not usual in Korea because of its Confucian ideas or traditions, that is, priority of blood relationship. Therefore, do you have an idea to develop my thesis? In Christ, Eun-Sung

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  • Pingback: Romanticizing adoption? Don’t do it! (Part 3) « Together for Adoption

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