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When Waiting is Painful

by Dan Cruver Published Jun 11, 2009

When you have a child biologically, you basically know when you will be able hold your child in your arms (assuming it’s a normal pregnancy). You will be holding your child sometime between 37 and 42 weeks after the estimated date of conception.

family-joy1But when you are bringing a child into your family through adoption, you most often have no idea when you will finally be able to hold your child in your arms. Depending on the type of adoption, it can take anywhere from a few months to several years before you’re holding your child.

Adoption agencies usually provide prospective families with an approximate timeframe for how long the adoption process will likely take (e.g., 12-18 months). But even in best case scenarios, unexpected delays are not unusual. You may have good reason to think that you’ll receive your referral within the next two months, but then something unanticipated happens and “suddenly” two months becomes six.

Waiting is never easy, but when waiting is filled with repeated delays it can become particularly painful. As Proverbs 13:12 says, “Hope deferred makes the heart sick.”

So, if you are an adoptive parent who is waiting to bring your child home, what can you do when this waiting has become painful? Well, let me encourage you to regularly consider how long God’s own adoption plan is taking.

Ephesians 1:5 says that God predestined us to adoption before he created the world, yet Paul says that Jesus came so that we might receive it (Galatians 4:4-6). Think about it: the adoption to which God predestined us before time did not take effect until Jesus came. That’s a long time between God’s decision to adopt us and our actual adoption.

Add to this the fact that the finalization of our adoption is yet still future (Romans 8:23), and you can begin to sense how unbelievably patient God is. God is not in a hurry to bring us home. The wisdom of his adoption plan is perfect.

We must be careful, though, not to look at his unbelievable patience and conclude that he must not be that passionate about bringing us home. No, God demonstrated his adoptive love for us by sending his Son to become a curse for us (Galatians 3:13) so that we might receive adoption as sons (Galatians 4:4-5). God is far more passionate about bringing us home than we are about bringing our new child home.

So, when waiting becomes painful, look at the patience of God in his adoption of you. It will fill you with fresh hope, endurance, and, yes, even joy. God’s adoption plans are perfect, for you and for your child. And they all end in joy.

  • Brittnie Wilbanks

    Thanks Dan! What a wonderful post. The waiting has begun for us and I needed to have that perspective at the beginning of our wait. Will probably need to read it several more times throughout this process!!


  • Cindy

    Nine months of paperwork. Ten months of waiting and no end in sight.
    When I’m getting a little down, sometimes I take a few minutes to listen to Chris Rice’s song “Missin’ You” (Out Past the Edges – track 10 – it’s an oldie). It makes me think of my daughter somewhere in El Salvador and it makes me think even more of my awesome God and how much He must long for us to be with Him. If I can want to be with Him this much in my imperfect love, how much more must he want to be with us in His perfect love.
    Of the many pictures of adoption, one of the most beautiful is how much we can love someone whom we have never even seen a picture of and have no idea when we’ll meet. While we wait for God’s plan, I’ll be missing both my daughter and my God.
    Thanks Dan!

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  • Stephen & Dottie

    Thanks for these God-centered comments about a very real and difficult part of adoption. We need a reminder that God is not in a hurry, even though we often are. In our minds the “goal” is that day when we will finally hold our child and be parents. But in God’s plan, this may be only a piece of the great work that He is doing in our lives. Perhaps we should always be asking, “How is God teaching/sanctifying/growing/using us right now? How can we glorify Him as we wait?”

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  • Gidget Fenwick

    Thanks for this wonderful adoption article. We are in the adoption process now and we are waiting for our referral now. We have been waiting one year. I will keep this article close by and I am gonna put this in my daughter’s baby book,God Bless

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  • Terri

    We’ve adopted 10 times and have never gotten used to the waiting part. Lord bless all of you who wait patiently for that great day of meeting your new child/ren. While waiting, start a journal of prayers, stories, answers to requests, funding blessings, etc that you can share with your child when they grow up. Become an expert on your child’s country, health care challenges, language, traveling abroad, etc. Remember this waiting time is precious too. Your family will never be the same again once your new child arrives. There is some sweet memory making to enjoy now. Also, beware that your new child is a person not just a quiet face in a photo. There will be some challenges when they arrive especially if you’ve had a terribly long wait and too much time to romanticize on how PERFECT everything will be! Great Book: “After The Dream Comes True,” by M. Gardner, mother of 12. “Praise Be to the God and Father of Our Lord Jesus Christ who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with EVERY spiritual blessing in Christ!”

  • S.

    Good thoughts, though I’d like to see more about the child’s perspective. Imagine how much more painful it is for a child waiting for parents. Remember how slowly time passed even in a happy childhood? Imagine being in an impersonal or even cruel living situation waiting and waiting for a family.

    I’ve heard people say, “Oh, I just can’t bear to think of my child unhappy or uncared for – I have to have a positive picture in my mind to be able to survive the adoption process.” To me, that seems so self-focused. I think this is part of the reason that cruel and corrupt orphanages flourish in many countries. Parents desperately want to believe that things are ok, and are determined to accept the rosy picture that orphanage officials paint fot them. No one questions them, and they continue unchecked.

    Someone please write a book about the child’s perspective…painful though it may be.

  • Carala

    Thanks for this great perspective! Too many times we get caught up on our own journey, and don’t think about God’s journey to bring us all home to Him.

    We’ve been on our journey to adoption for 2 years 10 months…I’ve had every emotion in the book, a thousand times over. But, what nobody will be able to take away from me is my unshakable faith in the greatest adoptive father…God! Without all the struggles of this 3 year journey, I would never have grown to love my Lord Jesus Christ the way I have. So, though tough, I am thankful for all I’ve learned and how I’ve grown in Christ. :-)

    Thanks again.
    Carala from Canada

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