God’s View of Family
Our concept of family used to be simple: get married, have kids, raise them up well, and you’re done. Isn’t that our typical picture? A husband, a wife, a son, a daughter, and maybe some pets in the mix? What we didn’t expect was that God had other plans for growing our family.
Our first son was a toddler when we started trying for another child. But month after month, we were disappointed. After about one year of trying, I began browsing the Internet about adoption. I stumbled upon the blog of a couple who adopted four children from Africa. The wife shared how adoption is an expression of God’s heart for us as a Father. I never thought of that before, but it made perfect sense. Just as we were adopted into God’s family by Jesus’ death on the cross, we can also bring in abandoned, neglected, or fatherless children and make them our sons and daughters
Starting the Journey of Adoption
Our adoption journey started by first fostering a 2-month-old baby boy. He came to us with what our doctor said were serious signs of neglect. He was so used to going hungry that he didn’t cry to ask for milk. Our doctor instructed us to put him on a feeding schedule. After a few months, we saw our first breakthrough when he cried to express hunger!
When he was 3 years old, he became legally available for adoption, so we went through the process of legally adopting him into our family. But from the time we got him, whenever we met friends and relatives, they asked us why we chose to take in a complete stranger. We couldn’t help but refer to the Gospel in response because that was the whole reason why we adopted him in the first place. We couldn’t have done it, if not for the Father’s love for us. When people asked if there was a difference between loving a biological child and an adopted child, we answered by saying that God’s grace enabled us to love them just the same.
My 4-year-old son’s reaction ought to be the standard. From the first day we brought home our adopted son, he looked at him as his brother. He even came home from preschool one day and asked us if we could adopt one of his classmates!
The Challenges of Adoption
It isn’t all sunshine and roses. Abandoned and neglected children may suffer some trauma, even if the trauma occurred when they were merely days or weeks old. Experiencing difficult events in the first few weeks or months of life can cause long-term problems and challenges. For example, the children may struggle to learn cause-and effect scenarios, or have trouble attaching emotionally to their parents. The longer the children are forced to fend for themselves, the more they become used to survival tactics that keep them from forming healthy connections with other people. Furthermore, all fostering and adoption arrangements come with a loss: the loss of the child’s birth family, and the loss of the love, care, and support that the child deserves. The good news is that we can be equipped to help these children thrive and soar to their full potential.
The Heart Behind Fostering
We also had the privilege of fostering two older children, which was a whole different ball game! We felt that it just wasn’t fair that babies and toddlers were easily adopted by local families, while very few local families took in older kids because of their “baggage.”
Yes, we agree that it’s not easy dealing with children who come from hard places, but they, just like the babies and toddlers, need a forever home too.
Once, we experienced fostering a baby, only for him to be adopted outside the country. He was three weeks old when he was placed under our care. He was two-and-a half-years-old when his adoptive parents came to pick him up. We are happy that he now has a forever home, and this awakened in us the desire to see more local families adopt their own Filipino children. Thankfully since then, our church family, who walked with us through the grief of the adoption and separation process, stepped up in fostering and adopting children. We have two other families who have opened their homes to total strangers and have been unbelievably blessed in the process.
Sometimes, people tend to romanticize adoption, imagining that families are some kind of hero. In reality, we’re all broken people who just want a little ray of God’s sunshine in the world. We are merely shining His light through bringing home the fatherless, and we get to experience our Father’s light through the joy that these children bring into our lives.
First published One Voice Magazine on September 23, 2021.
Yen Cabag is the wife of Mark, who is the lead pastor of the church, The City Iloilo. They both champion the fostering and adoption of children through NoMoreOrphans.PH, which Mark leads as an initiative of the church. Yen is also an advocate for homeschooling with the Charlotte Mason method, offering resources to help other families homeschool at CharlotteMasonPhilippines.com.