It was just over three years ago.

Summer was drawing to a close, and I was three months pregnant. I opened my email that morning, not knowing. How could I have known how our entire world was about to shift. It honestly feels like a lifetime ago, but I remember the feeling of my heart sinking as I read the email from my aunt telling me that my cousin’s daughter had been removed from her care, and placed in foster care. I hadn’t seen my cousin in over 12 years and I had never met her daughter Dee, who at that time was 2. I mentioned it to my husband who was having a coffee with me, and I can remember him saying that was too bad and then we brushed it aside and moved on with our week. But it kept coming to my mind, day after day. And then one morning I opened my Bible and James 1:27 was right in front of me. “Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.

And I knew in that moment what God was asking of our family.

We were able to start the very long process of adopting Dee. During this process my son was born, and my cousin, Dee’s mother tragically passed away.

I remember the first time I saw Dee. It was at her mother’s funeral, 18 months after I had first gotten that email. She was 4 years old, wearing a pink and white dress and her hair was in pigtails. She was so confused, and she was clinging to her foster mom for much of the service. Afterwards she went to play with some of the other kids, and I sat and just watched her. Wondering how long it would take me to love her.

I’m not someone who likes kids. I don’t. I love my own, but I’m not someone who naturally gravitates towards other people’s kids.

So the idea of having a child I had never met, never held, live in my home, and be loved to the same overwhelming extent that I love my other children was terrifying. I wasn’t sure I honestly could.

And here is what I have found:

I still am not someone who gravitates naturally towards children. I live in horror that I will one day have to volunteer with the children’s ministry in our church.

But I love Dee. It’s overwhelming.

I love her when she is snuggling into me at night, while I am praying over her and tucking her into bed.

I love her when she is eagerly helping me make dinner, or excitedly showing me her homework she has completed.

I love her when she falls asleep in my lap during movie night, and I get to feel her breathing against me.

I love her when she is kicking at me, screaming that I’m not her mom, that she hates me and wants a new mom.

I love her when, for no reason that anyone can see, she lashes out hitting or kicking the nearest person to her.

I love her when she throws herself on the ground, kicking and screaming for 20 mins, because I asked her to pick up her toys.

I love her and it amazes me.

Because it is teaching me that when you do what God asks of you, He provides EVERYTHING you need. Even love.

I love her because Christ FIRST loved me.

I love her because He loves me in spite of my selfishness, in spite of my sin.

I love her because, just as we have adopted her into our family, so we are also adopted as sons and daughters of Christ and made full heirs with Him.

I thought that adoption was about loving a little girl who needed love, who needed a family, who needed a home.

I was wrong.

I am learning that adoption is about so much more… so, so much more. It’s about us learning to live like Christ, to love like Christ. To live out the biblical concept that actually IS adoption. To die to self, and to begin to look like Christ.

Each day as I fight against myself, against the frustration that comes so quickly, the sharp words that naturally spring to my tongue, the impatience, the anger, the selfishness, I slowly…so slowly, am becoming more like Jesus, and less of who I am. I am seeing patience, love, gentleness, self control, and peace growing in me, in ways I may never have had the opportunity to learn, had we not opened our home and our hearts to Dee.

Serena Crowder

Homeschooling Mom of 4,Wife to Terry, Lover of Jesus, Worship Leader. Adoptive Mom to a child with Fetal Alcohol Syndrome. It has been and continues to be a journey that is transforming each of us into something so much more beautiful than we could ever have been without this experience.