Wednesday, January 26, 2011

The Dedication

Once our adoption was final, I was ready to celebrate! I had worked through so much of the grief as the date of the court hearing approached. I had cried (sobbed) many bitter tears of regret, anxiety and fear. So much of this situation just wasn't fair--to my little girl or to my husband and me. There was so much pain involved, that even though I was thrilled with the finalization of the adoption, I couldn't keep from acknowledging the grief. But I was done crying (for the time being, anyway.)

So, on the evening of our celebration, we had an adoption/dedication service during our church's Saturday evening worship service. Our pastor and many others in our church family, as well as our own families had walked with us through this whole process and nothing seemed more appropriate than to celebrate with all of them under one roof. I didn't count, but I'm sure I sent out over 100 invitations. We had friends and family from three different states. New friends we've only known a short time, old friends who've known us since our older children were little, and even friends from high school! Not to mention our family, including 11 of our 14 nieces and nephews and our great-nephew. My mom's cousins who we rarely get to see came as well. As our pastor asked everyone who was connected to us to stand, three fourths of the congregation rose to their feet. Amazing... God has so blessed us with support, and we are so grateful.

Our pastor had heard me when I shared with him that I could not celebrate without acknowledging the hard parts of this situation, and he addressed them. He has witnessed our heartbreak for our son and our little girl's biological mother. Even though they were not present, we could not leave them out of this service. Here are the words our pastor spoke over our little girl, her biological parents and my husband and me.

We come together today to celebrate a very important and precious transition in the life of this family. This little girl has been adopted by her grandparents as their daughter. Today we celebrate the life of this little girl. She is a unique weaving together of nature and nurture into one marvelous little human being with incredible potential and purpose.

May all of us remember that, regardless of the circumstances of our birth or who our parents are, God had a plan in creating each of us. It doesn’t matter whether our parents were good, bad or indifferent. God knew that those two individuals possessed exactly the right genetic makeup to create the custom “us” He had in mind. They had the DNA God wanted to make us. Not one of us is here by mistake.

Adoption is a time of celebration and rejoicing. But it is also a time to shed tears. Just as an oyster is wired by its creator to wrap its innermost being around any unexpected pain to produce a beautiful pearl, everyone involved in this adoption process has wrapped his or her innermost being—time, energy, blood, sweat and tears—around this little girl. Tears oftentimes are the only language we can speak and they have been a part of this process.

As the poet, Washington Irving said, “There is sacredness in tears. They are not the mark of weakness, but of power. They speak more eloquently than ten thousand tongues. They are messengers of overwhelming grief and unspeakable love.”

In this adoption, there is a time to celebrate and a time to mourn. To this little girl’s birth parents, we say that there is tremendous courage in the decision to make sure that their daughter’s future needs are being met. They have done their very best under difficult situations. So we bow our heads in a word of prayer for them right now…

Dear God, we pray for the birth father and mother of this little girl. We ask Your comforting hand to be upon them as they have released their daughter to her grandparents. We know that this was a terribly difficult situation and decision. May You guide their lives and bring them to a place where they see with utter clarity Your grace and love. And may they one day accept You and follow You with all their hearts, souls, minds and strength. In Jesus’ name we pray, Amen.

Now, [speaking very gently to our daughter and taking her little hand in his] remember to look at your fingerprints often and remember that they are the marks of ownership on you, like a shepherd’s unique marks on his sheep. Your fingerprints will never leave you and they remind you of who and whose you are.

I anoint you today as the precious little girl you are, loved by God, loved by your birth parents and loved by your new family—not only adopted by them, but adopted by us and God as well. In the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, Amen.

Now, [speaking to my husband and me] you, as this little girl’s grandparents, have agreed to take on the responsibility to raise her as your very own daughter. I am sure that the unexpected twists and turns that finally brought you together as a family have not been easy. We affirm you and are proud of you for wanting to provide for her and take care of her. So I ask you now, in the presence of God and your family and friends…

1. Will you do all in your power to raise this little girl in a Christian home. If so, say, “We will.”

2. Will you do all in your power to teach her the treasures of the Bible, the power of prayer and the personal worship of Jesus Christ as her Savior? If so, say, “We will.”

3. And will you involve her in the family and faith of God so that by the teaching and example of the church, she will come to profess her own faith in our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. If so, say, “We will.”

[We obviously responded affirmatively to each question!]

You are the new parents to this little girl. Go forth with confidence, knowing that you are the ones responsible for her physical, emotional and spiritual well-being. Love her with God’s love and form a brand new home. Work through your grief, continue to bring healing to your family and grow new hope and new grace in your little girl.

Let us pray, O God, we lift up these parents and their new daughter to You. May Your love and grace fill their family. May You help them to be parents who are examples of Your love. May this little girl find a new family and a new place to be loved and nurtured into faith in You. And may she come to know, like all of us, who her Father truly is. In the name of the One who created us, loved us, and raised us into His kingdom, Jesus Christ we pray. Amen.

Friends, a new family has been formed this day from all the circumstances and situations of the past, and all the hopes and dreams of tomorrow. And so we step forward with courage into a brand new day and a brand new family. For we know that we are all adopted as children into the family of God. May God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit bless and preserve and keep us all now and forevermore. Amen.

And so, we now move forward as a family--acknowledged by the state (two states, in fact!) and the church. May I remember the vows I took that evening and never forget the sacred trust that God has placed in me. May her beautiful brown eyes always remind me that God did not have to give me this beautiful little gift, but He chose to do so, and I must never take that for granted.

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I would love to hear from you! Let me know what you think and how I can pray for you. Most of us are carrying some pretty heavy baggage and the good news is, you don't have to carry it alone! You can lay it at the feet of Jesus, and sometimes we need help just letting go of our baggage and not picking it up again. We're in this together!