Several years ago, I was talking to a friend about whether we would stop at two kids or if there would be more King children in our future. I remember her saying “four Kings seems right”. At the time, and for several years, it really did. We have loved our time as four. Our little quad has made tons of memories, has laughed together, has established a culture for what our family looks like, and has struggled together as we’ve grown as parents and we’ve helped these kids along in the process of growing up.
At the beginning of our adoption journey, I felt absolute confirmation that we were supposed to move forward. I still had to start to wrap my brain around how the dynamics of our family would change though. One of the first ways this presented itself was in simple number. For a long time, even after we said “yes”, I still pictured us in my mind as four.
Somewhere along the way, as we moved through this process and I fell desperately in love with a little girl across the world, that automatically began to shift in my mind.
Now, our four chairs at the kitchen table seems…off. Many times when it is just the four of us, I feel the void of her absence so strongly. I will always cherish the five years we spent with our first two babies, but I am so ready and excited to start our life as a family of five.
It is easy for me to see now that God’s plan was always for us to be five.
The stark contrast to that, as I have come to understand it, is that we were never God’s original intention for her. Although God knew Ellie would ultimately be a King (and we rejoice for that!), her position in our family is born out of tremendous loss in her life.
Adoption is beautiful. I have learned more about the heart of God as I have walked through this process than in much of my life as Christ follower. Only God, with His bigness and His power and His creativity could bring a child together with a family in the way that He does. And only God can give a mama in Houston, Texas a fierce love for her baby girl all the way across the world in Chenzhou, China.
Adoption is a beautiful answer, a beautiful, redemptive response to tragedy. Much like God’s adoption of me is a beautiful response to a real problem – the sin issue I cannot overcome on my own; adoption is the work of a God who can redeem the most painful parts of our lives and bring good out of them.
But we can’t get so wrapped up in the beauty of it that we forget that adoption does indeed begin with loss.
And the pain of loss doesn’t go away just because a child may be adopted.
We will meet Elliott in just under a month. And for us, that is the day we have been racing towards and anticipating for the past nine months. Our eyes are set so firmly on that goal. We. Can’t. Wait. To. Get. To. Her.
What for us is a joyful ending, though, is a hard beginning for our girl.
Because for the second time in her life, Elliott will experience loss that day. Growing up in an orphanage is not enough. She deserves so much more than that. But for her, since she was ten days old, it is all she has known. Her nannies, her bed, the other children. That is her familiar life. That is her world as she knows it.
So as we count the days until we can meet her, we do it with a heaviness. We know that for us, what will be one of the best days of our lives, could also be one of the hardest of hers. We have been staring at her picture, memorizing her videos – we feel like we know her. But for her, she will be placed in the arms of a pair of strange Americans. We are strangers to her.
In our training and education over the past months, we have learned that most children will grieve in the hours, days, weeks, and months following placement with their adoptive families. We don’t know what that will look like. But we are preparing ourselves to be with her and love her through the grieving. Our hope is that as we love Elliott, as we seek the Lord in parenting her, He will do what only He can do – He will redeem. Our hope is that she is able to fully grieve all that she has lost. Our hope is that we can walk with her through that grief. That God gives us and her what we need to explore the pain and the questions that come through all the moments and stages of her life. Our hope is that God would guide all of us through all of it. Our hope is that we would get to see Him bring beauty, as only He can, in all that she has lost and endured through in her short life so far.
We are overwhelmingly grateful that we will get to know and love this child. And overwhelmingly grateful that the narrative of her life doesn’t stop with the loss. I can’t wait to see how God writes the rest of her story.