Visiting the nursery when she was in the hospital was routine for Mary. Never able to have children of her own, she enjoyed seeing the newborns all lined up with their pink and blue name cards on her frequent hospital stays. No doubt every nursery visit was bittersweet since she so wanted to have a child of her own. On this particular visit, Mary noticed in a special way a baby girl with a distinctive blonde curl right down the middle of her head.
Five months later, when the adoption agency she and her husband Bob had been dealing with called to tell her that they had a baby girl for them, Mary was ecstatic. It had been a long and tedious adoption road. She and Bob jumped into the car and tore off for the agency in downtown Atlanta.
As the agency worker handed Bob and Mary their new daughter, Mary stared down at her. This baby had a distinctive blonde curl right down the middle of her head. “I’ve seen this baby before,” Mary said. “When was she born?” “February sixth,” replied the worker. “And what hospital was she born in?” Mary asked. “Emory University,” was the reply. And, yes, that was the hospital and the date that Mary Appling had first seen me, her new daughter. In Mom’s words, “No one can ever tell me that God didn’t have you picked out just for me.”
Four years later, Mom and Dad adopted a brother for me and our family was complete. Both Jack, who now prefers John, and I knew from the beginning that we were adopted. It wasn’t hidden; it wasn’t something of which we were ashamed. We were told how special it was that God gave us a forever family in His own way—and later we learned that we were actually twice adopted—once by Bob and Mary Appling and once by God the Father into His family.
November is National Adoption Month. It’s a time when a special emphasis is put on giving children forever families through adoption. In Wisconsin, the legislature will likely pass a resolution commemorating this day.
A few years ago as a part of such a resolution, the information in the resolution noted that on any given day, “approximately 8,000 children in Wisconsin are living with foster families, many of whom await placement with a loving, adoptive family to protect and care for them”; and that “the number of youth in the foster care system who reach adulthood without being placed in a permanent home has increased by more than 60 percent since 1998.”
These are staggering numbers because they represent children who for one reason or another are without a forever family of their own. And we know that children in that situation are much more likely to suffer all kinds of problems because they lack the love, concern, safety, care, and involvement of a mother and father.
I believe the church should be a major part of the answer to the adoption issue. If we can’t find married men and women in the Christian churches of our state who will step up and adopt, who will see that these children get forever families? Who is better suited than Christian families to add to their number and to invest in the life of a child? I am praying that God will begin working on the hearts of families all across this state to become, as He leads, adoptive parents for a child who desperately needs a loving and lasting home.
Certainly adoption is an incredible option when compared with abortion. I am grateful for organizations in our state—our pregnancy care centers that include our Baptists for Life-affiliated Agape, Assurance, Access and Alpha—that make sure young women who show up at their facilities hear that abortion is not the only answer, contrary to Planned Parenthood of Wisconsin whose adoption referrals are virtually non-existent.
My adoption story ended beautifully, as did my brother’s. Not everyone’s does, but I think overall adoption is well worth the risk for all concerned.
Adoption is designed to be a truly life-changing option. Why not celebrate adoption this month? Talk about it in your church. Share the need with people you think would be great adoptive parents. Be part of giving a child a forever family—and I can assure you from personal experience, they’ll very likely be forever grateful.
Devotional submitted by:
Julaine Appling, President of Wisconsin Family Council and Board Member of Baptists for Life of Wisconsin