Was Adoption Really God’s Plan?

Could God's plan really involve this much heartbreak?

Rachel Galbraith October 19, 2016
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From the time I was a little girl, I was a vivid dreamer. At night, my mind was filled with detailed moving pictures conjured up by my subconscious. Each morning, I would awake to recount these experiences to my mother over breakfast. Sometimes they were funny, other times they were frightening, but most of the time they were simply odd.

My mother would listen as I described whatever adventure I had lived while I slept and then we would discuss why my mind had come up with such silliness. Life, and the emotions associated with it, played out in mysterious ways. With the exception of the disturbing dreams, I enjoyed analyzing what my brain had processed during the previous night.

One night, when I was 15 years old, I found myself dreaming that I was in a large auditorium. A high school graduation was taking place and I was frantically looking for “my son.” The room was full of people and the graduates were lined up along a wall on the opposite side of the room from where I stood. I was trying to push through the masses of people to “my son,” who was preparing to graduate. I needed him to know I was there. I could see him. He was a tall, handsome, black young man, and he was looking around the room for me, but couldn’t see me. I was fighting my way through the crowd, calling his name. Eventually I made it to him and when he saw me, he grabbed me in a very tight embrace. We were so happy to have found one another. The feeling of love was tangible.

When I awoke the next morning, my heart was still full. That dream had felt different from any other vivid dream I had ever experienced. It felt like much more than a dream. Every time I thought about it, my heart told me that someday I needed to find that boy from my dreams: my son. Adoption had been something I had thought about since I was a very small girl, and after this dream, I felt so strongly that someday I would find that boy and become his mother through adoption.

Fast forward twelve years, when I found myself recovering from the traumatic c-section of my fourth child. As I had lain on the operating table, listening to the concerned voices of the professionals working on me from behind a sheet, I knew that something was not right. A moment later, my sweet doctor came around the partition to inform me that my body was done having babies. Suddenly I knew the time had come for me to begin searching for the son from my dreams.

We didn’t start right away. We had our precious new baby, three other little children, and limited finances. Not to mention the fact that I didn’t even know where to begin with the whole adoption thing. My husband and I talked about it quite often and vacillated back and forth on the answer: Should we do it or not? Some days I felt overwhelmed with the four children I was already a mother to and thought, “No. This is good.” But, not too long after that, something would happen that would bring adoption back to the forefront of my mind. I could still remember the feelings of pure love and joy that radiated through my dream as I found my son and hugged him tightly. I felt so strongly that God wanted me to find him. I couldn’t deny it.

In 2012, seventeen years after having that dream, we were chosen by an expectant mother to be the family for her child. We hadn’t specified anything as far as gender or race was concerned when we filled out the adoption paperwork. Though I knew who was coming, I wanted to let it happen naturally. In a way, I guess you could say that I was testing God to see if my dream was really going to come true. We had pursued other adoption situations, none of which were black baby boys, and each time, nothing came from them. So when we got the email in late August of 2012 that we had been chosen as the parents of a soon-to-be born, black baby boy, I could hardly believe it. We had found each other.

The months leading up to his birth were filled with literal miracles. Adoption is very expensive, and though we are not rich, the money we needed miraculously became available. In fact, one day we had some unexpected adoption expenses arise and were not sure where that money was going to come from. I hit my knees and pleaded with God for help. As I arose I had a feeling I should go check my mail. Tentatively, I walked out to the mailbox. Sifting through the mail I came across an envelope. Inside was a check for exactly what we needed. How could I deny God’s hand in this process? I couldn’t. Too many things had happened along the way to show me that He was there and in charge.

In November our son was born. We were blessed to be able to spend two very sacred days at the hospital with him and his birth mother. But I was not prepared for the awful guilt I felt the moment his birth mother kissed him goodbye. The tear that rolled down her face and pooled on his tiny head will forever replay in slow motion through my mind.

We took him home that night and suddenly my thoughts changed from “This was God’s will,” to “WHY? Why would God put his birth mother through such heartache?” What made me so special that I was the woman who was chosen to raise this son while another woman was left empty? It made no sense to me and seemed to go against everything I believed God to be.

Ever since his birth, I have thought about these questions on a daily basis. How could I reconcile my feelings that God had intended for me to find him, and that the stars had basically aligned in every way possible to bring him to me, while knowing that miles away a woman I loved was grieving his loss? God certainly loved her just as much as He loved me—I couldn’t wrap my head around it.

After many years of soul-searching, I have finally come to a conclusion that has brought my soul some peace. Of course, this is just my opinion, based off of my Christian beliefs of who God is, and I’m sure that there are many who would disagree with me. But, for those who may share a similar belief system as I do, I wanted to express my thoughts.

First, I’d like to tell you about my belief as to who God is. I believe that God is omniscient, or all-knowing. I believe that He sent us here to earth and gave us agency to make our own choices. Most of the time, He doesn’t intervene in those choices. It’s our right to be able to choose how we are going to live our lives. Sometimes we make good choices and sometimes we make poor choices. Though he doesn’t interfere in our choices, He doesn’t abandon us when we make choices that take us down difficult paths. He is always there to help us, and if we turn to Him, he can bring us back to happiness.

I also believe that God knows each one of us individually. He knows me, he knows my son’s birth mother, and he knows my son. He knows us so well that he knows what choices we will make before we even make them. He isn’t making the choices for us, but since He is omniscient, He can see the big picture, and He knows how it’s all going to end. I believe with all my heart that God is our loving father, full of grace, and mercy. He wants us to find peace and happiness in this life, and He has a way of bringing those things into our lives.

In the Bible, the prophet Isaiah says, “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me . . . to appoint unto them that mourn in Zion, to give unto them beauty for ashes . . . ” (Isaiah 61:1-3, Old Testament, King James Version.)

I believe that God can make beauty from ashes. That is what adoption is about. When God was making plans for this world, He wasn’t sitting in Heaven picking favorites and deciding that certain women were going to sacrifice their children so that another group of women could raise them. That is absurd. God doesn’t have favorites. He loves us all unconditionally. But, I do believe that He knew that some women were going to come to earth and have experiences that led them to crisis pregnancies.* Those women would then have choices to make concerning their lives, and the lives of their unborn babies. Many of them turn to a higher power during this time. Whether they believe in God as an actual being, or not, many feel drawn to adoption from a power separate from their own. God always has a plan. I believe He is closer to those women during their times of uncertainty, fear, and sorrow than He has ever been. Each woman is able to make the choice for what is best for her, and God is there to support her through that plan. He doesn’t force any decisions, but He may give little nudges in one direction or another. Once again, He knows the big picture and can guide us all to make choices that will eventually lead to happiness.

My son’s birth mother chose adoption. Seventeen years before he was born, God knew this was going to happen and He put the wheels in motion for us to find one another. It’s a deep concept to think about; that my son’s birth mother could have made all sorts of different choices throughout her life that would have taken her down a completely different path where adoption may have never been an option. But God knew her and knew her story from start to finish. He knew our son and knew his story from start to finish. He knew me, and knew my story from start to finish. And through his loving grace, and His ability to make beauty from ashes, He brought us all together.

Beauty from ashes doesn’t mean there isn’t pain involved. For anything to turn to ash, it must first experience the fire. The fire from situations that lead to adoption can burn extremely hot and can smolder for a very long time. All members of the adoption triad—birth mothers, adoptees, and adoptive parents—feel the heat. It is not something for the faint of heart, but as always, God has a plan for each of us. If we can hold on, and turn to Him, He can extinguish the flames. Just as the mythological Phoenix rises from the ashes in a show of new life, strength, and beauty, so can we. To once again quote the Bible, we are promised, “I will not leave you comfortless: I will come to you.” (John 14:18, New Testament, King James Version.)

I have come to realize that we each choose our own path, and though it may wind through storms, God is there to steady the winds. Though he did not “have it in the plans,” so to speak, for my son’s birth mother to get pregnant in order to give me her baby, He was there when the decision needed to be made. He did not “have it in the plans,” for my body to quit being able to sustain pregnancies, but He was there, when the time came, opening my heart to the idea of adoption. He brought us together in our sorrows to create something that can become beautiful if we hold on through the fire.

Beauty for ashes.

*To clarify, I am talking about women who make educated, informed adoption plans. I recognize that there are women who feel that they were coerced into placing their children for adoption, or who did not have a choice at all in the matter. To those women, I extend my heartfelt love. Those situations require a whole new discussion.

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Rachel Galbraith

Rachel Galbraith is a busy mother of five children, one of whom was adopted at birth. She has a Bachelors Degree in social work, and has worked as a medical social worker, specializing in the field of women and children. She was privileged to play a small role in the adoptions that often took place on her hospital unit. Writing has become her own personal form of therapy, and she is excited to combine it with her love of adoption. In her free time, she has a love-hate relationship with distance running. She readily admits to doing it only so she can eat chocolate chip cookies for breakfast.


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