This is the powerful testimony of the adoption process as shared by Glenda Williams, iThemba Lethu’s long standing and previous Co-ordinator (2004 – 2013), and her husband Mark
“…..your adopted child is now for all purposes regarded as your child as if born to you……” Wow!
These are the words on the adoption document issued to us by the Department of Social Development. Powerful and life changing words. Adoption is radical – in the eyes of the law, to the child and the family, and in the heavenlies!
There is no doubt that adoption is significant. It is almost impossible to overstate the life changing impact. Our daughter now carries our family name – ‘Williams’. She is part of our family, as if born to us, and she will know the privileges and responsibilities that come with being a ‘Williams’.
As a couple, we always knew that we would have children by adoption. Even before we were engaged to be married, we had discussed the idea of growing our family through adoption. But nothing could have prepared me for the giddy excitement I felt when we received the call from our social worker to say we could meet our little girl for the first time! We know that God specifically chose Abigail to be our precious daughter. It was not through our efforts or by chance. He is in control. We couldn’t wait to meet her, to hold her, to love and cuddle her, to introduce her to her older brother and sister, and to bring her home – where she belongs – part of our family. Here she will always know love and acceptance and unmerited favour. We were going to meet our daughter – oh my word!
Abigail Hope Williams has a new identity that overrides the former and she will walk through life carrying the name of her father. Abigail is our daughter. Fact. Undisputed. She has the right to call us ‘mom and dad’. Nothing will ever change that. She shares in the family inheritance and in the ups and downs of family life. In July 2015, we were on holiday down the South Coast when we got the call to say we could take her home. We cut our holiday short and came racing back to prepare for the arrival of our daughter. From the minute she arrived on that Friday, 17 July 2015, just after lunch, Abigail was instantly a sister and a granddaughter, a niece and a cousin. She did not need to qualify or earn her position in our family – it was automatic. Her adoption came with entitlements – and this is one of them. In times of uncertainty or joy, confusion or celebration, heartbreak or peace, my children will know my unconditional love and devotion. I will fight for their destiny, I will hold up their arms when they are weary, I will carry them when they tire and I will love them for eternity.
Mark and I are terrible at agreeing on names for our children. The night before our first daughter was born, we were still googling possible names! And choosing Abigail’s name was no different. It took months – literally! And yet when Mark suggested ‘Abigail’ there was instant agreement. Abigail means ‘Father’s joy’. Oh how perfect! That our daughter will grow up reveling in the fact that she brings joy to both her earthly father and her Heavenly Father. She is a joy and a delight and we proclaim that over her every time we speak her name. And Hope is our declaration over her life.
Many ‘God-moments’ are intricately woven into our adoption story and leave us gob smacked and humbled by His attention to detail. Details that will forever remind us (and Abigail) that our stories are not random. I’ll just share two of our ‘moments’…… Months before we first met Abigail, during a time of worship, God gave Mark a sense of who our daughter would be and some associated names dropped in his heart. Later, as we sat holding Abigail for the first time in an office at Child Welfare, Mark leant over and whispered “look at the name on her file”. And there, in black and white was one of these significant names – oh my word! An assurance for us that we were God’s chosen parents to raise our daughter.
Another marvellous moment unfolded like this……One of my greatest concerns as we prayed for our daughter before we’d even met her, was that she would be lovingly cared for and nurtured until she was united with us and we could bring her home. I would lie in bed at night crying as I asked God to protect our little girl wherever she was, praying for safe hands to hold her and kind words to be spoken over her. So you can imagine our absolute relief when we learnt that Abigail was in the care of a woman that Mark knew from the church he attended as a teenager. She now runs a beautiful transition home for babies. What a comfort (and answer to prayer) to know that our precious daughter was loved and cared for by godly women until she was united with us. What a compassionate, prayer-answering God! He hears the cries of His people and His heart is moved.
There is no doubt that Abigail has made adoption real for us. We have come to a greater understanding and appreciation of our adoption as sons and daughters of the Most High God. Because adoption is not a new idea thought up by man. It is God’s restoring plan. We see a beautiful thread throughout scripture including Moses and Jesus. With tears in my eyes I thank you Jesus for your commitment to a cruel and humiliating death on the cross – for me. Thank you that you rose victorious over sin and death and made the way for me to be reconciled to my Heavenly Father! My heart literally aches with gratitude. And for eternity I will celebrate as a child of God – what an incredible reality. This is not symbolism or a nice idea. It is an undisputed fact – I am a child of God! My identity is secure. This is the power of adoption!
There was a delay between us meeting Abigail and being able to bring her home. During these weeks I would often drive out to visit her. I would hold her in my arms and sing to her for hours (even if she was sleeping) with tears streaming down my face. I wanted her to know my voice. I wanted her to feel safe and secure and loved in my arms so that when she arrived home with all the new sights and sounds, she would have a constant and familiar voice that she recognised and that would bring her comfort. A voice that would soothe any confusion and erase any anxiety or fear. I’m realising that there is a Voice in my own life just like this. A Voice that brings calm in the chaos and speaks truth and life. This is the power of adoption!
Our house is chaotic most of the time – three little people all wanting a say – and I love it! I wouldn’t change it for anything. I love the energy and the freedom. And when I think of the precious gift of our youngest daughter I wonder if I am perhaps experiencing a taste of the pleasure and joy that fills the heart of my Heavenly Father when we give our lives to him and are adopted into His family and He becomes our eternal Father.
Adoption is a mystery – a heart connection that cannot be explained and a life changing impact that cannot be quantified. We will never be the same. The course of history is forever changed. A new path has been forged. Our prayer is that this mystery is embraced and that we see an unprecedented explosion of adoptions into both earthly families and our Heavenly Family. Our prayer for all our children is that they recognise their need to be adopted by Father God and live in freedom as sons and daughters of the Most High God.