Why adoption isn’t Plan A or B

October 18, 2018

Love, marriage, baby carriage—that’s the predictable course many couples follow to fulfill the cultural mandate in Genesis to “be fruitful and multiply.” Because procreation is a natural biological process that God designed, we expect our bodies to work as intended and assume the sequence will progress in the usual way.

But reproductive ability isn’t guaranteed. Our world is fallen, and sin affected the entire process of childbearing. Some couples can’t get pregnant; some miscarry or lose their babies in the womb. Their roads to parenthood meander and extend, with some diverging from the typical biological route.

When my husband and I began pursuing domestic infant adoption after several years of infertility, we mourned the loss of bearing children, but also rejoiced at the prospect of adding a child to our family through adoption. God sparked the desire to adopt early in our marriage, before we had problems trying to conceive. We didn’t view adoption as a second-rate method to grow our family, but rather appreciated it as a beautiful, redemptive way to bring us a child.

Though we received support from family and friends, we heard occasional comments insinuating that adoption was Plan B. The remarks implied that biological pregnancy was the preferred method for growing a family, and construed adoption as a subpar option left to those who otherwise couldn’t have children. A few couples we knew who were also facing infertility refused to consider adoption because they couldn’t imagine raising children that weren’t their biological offspring.

Deeper insight into the adoption process can help clarify the misperception that adoption is inferior to “having your own kids.” As parents who welcomed our first child through adoption, we jump at the opportunity to explain how God unfolded his plan for giving us this undeserved gift.

Changing plans

Infertility surprised us and revised our original plan for growing a family. Medical complications arose, demanding tests and producing unclear diagnosis. As the fertility treatments we tried continued to fail, I prayed and cried to the Lord, asking why he was redirecting the family growth pattern I’d charted.

Though I felt isolated, I wasn’t the only woman facing a life-altering change of plans.

About that same time, a woman in a city 125 miles away got pregnant unexpectedly. She was no longer with the baby’s father, and wanted her child to be raised in a loving, Christian home with two parents present. When she delivered her baby boy, she called an agency, made an adoption plan, and chose us to be his parents.

Neither her childbearing plans nor mine worked out as we’d imagined. Instead, God led us to a crossroads that merged our paths.

“The heart of man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps” (Prov. 16:9). As much as we tried to strategize, my husband and I couldn’t determine the ultimate course of our family’s growth. While it’s prudent to consider options and try to manage time and finances wisely, no one has the power to bear children based on their own decisions. God is the author of creation (John 1:3); he alone decides when and how we have children.

In our case, his timing took longer than expected, and his delivery method came as a delayed surprise. “Many are the plans in the mind of a man, but it is the purpose of the Lord that will stand” (Prov. 19:21). God’s plan for how he’d grow our family wasn’t what we had in mind. It was better.

Birth through loss

I often joke that our struggle through infertility felt more like a nightmarish road trip than a frolicking journey. Undergoing painful and costly tests and treatments exhausted us. We had to grieve our inability to bear children, and grief wasn’t a path we would’ve chosen to reach parenthood.

Similarly, our son’s birth mother endured sadness through her surprise pregnancy and subsequent choice to make an adoption plan. Because she loved her son and wanted him to thrive in a home with two parents, she made a difficult decision that would cause grief for her and her child, for the sake of protecting and nurturing him.

We all entered the adoption triad (adoptive parents, birth parents, adoptee) through loss. Adoption wasn’t Plan A for any of us. But it wasn’t Plan B, either. Adoption wasn’t an inferior way for us to expand our family; nor was it a selfish decision made by our son’s birth mother to “abandon” her child.

By guiding us to adoption, God created beauty from brokenness. He gave us a child. He gave a child a home. He gave a woman a way to take care of her child. “Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert” (Isa. 43:19). God gathered our collective loss and transformed it into communal gain. He enriched our lives by making a new family, bonding us through shared love for our son.

As we look at our son today and sit beside him when he talks with his birth mother and her family, we thank God for the brilliance of his Plan A.

God’s family plan

Adoption is never easy. Not all relationships can be open, and some problems can’t be resolved. Yet this earthly process can display the greatness of God’s eternal plan, redeeming us for his glory through the death and resurrection of his son.

“But, as it is written, ‘What no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man imagined, what God has prepared for those who love him’” (1 Cor. 2:9). God’s wisdom surpasses our understanding, and his designs far exceed our most precious plans. He called us into his family through Christ, and lavishes grace toward us as his beloved children. Now, our earthly adoption story testifies to a deeper spiritual truth: God’s plan is best, and he can be trusted.

Jenn Hesse

Jenn Hesse is a writer, editor, and cofounder of a ministry that supports women walking through infertility, infant loss, and adoption. She lives with her husband and two sons in Oregon and writes at jennhesse.com. Read More by this Author