Minister's Corner: Mixed Blessings

William Simpson

My work provides plenty of opportunity for new and unexpected experiences. Sometimes, those experiences prove beautiful. Other times, they’re hard. And, sometimes, they’re both.

I was recently approached by a colleague who asked if I knew of a reliable adoption agency. My coworker had a family member who, unexpectedly finding herself pregnant, was considering adoption.

I don’t have a lot of experience with adoption agencies, but my wife and I have two precious grandsons who were adopted. The agency involved in both adoptions was, in our family’s opinion, a tool God used to provide for those boys, for our family, and for the birth families. I shared the agency’s contact information with my coworker.

Not long afterward, I learned the baby was to be born right here at our hospital in just a few days. In addition to the birth mom and her family, the adoptive parents were also planning to be present, along with a representative from the adoption agency. Knowing first-hand the blessings of adoption, I was looking forward to meeting them all.

On the day of the baby’s delivery, I had a chance to meet the adoptive parents. I was so grateful to have some small role in their adoption process. The next day, I had opportunity to meet the birth mother and her mom. It was also on that day, that I had a chance to experience an incredibly powerful moment.

On behalf of the birth family, my colleague asked if I might be willing to facilitate a simple blessing for the child and his new family. With the support of both families, I readily accepted the invitation. Understandably, the birth mother chose not to be present for the ceremony. “I know I’m doing the right thing,” she said, “and I don’t want it to change my mind.”

As we gathered for the ceremony, I shared a few scriptures and led in prayer. During the prayer, I heard crying, and I assumed it was members of the birth family. When finished, I confirmed that fact but realized, too, both adoptive parents were tearful, as well. Grateful as they were for the gift of their child, they were more aware than ever of the sacrifice being made by the birth family. And so was I.

When our grandsons were adopted, I had an intellectual awareness that someone somewhere had made a significant sacrifice. My own experience, though, was firmly rooted in my role as a member of the adoptive family. It wasn’t until this service of blessing, with members of both families present, that I witnessed first-hand the depth and pain of such a sacrifice. Members of the birth family tenderly held and kissed the baby, then, with tears still flowing, gently and lovingly handed the precious gift of that child to his new parents.

Here in the midst of Lent, I couldn’t help but realize the parallels between this adoption experience and the central role of Easter in conveying God’s offer of adoption through his son, Jesus Christ (Romans 8:15). Just as the family in that hospital room gave their child willingly but painfully, God handed his own son over willingly, though with great pain. That adoptive family received the precious gift of their child with both joy and a keen awareness of the sacrifice it required. Sadly, I too often focus on the gift of my salvation while failing to recognize the incredible sacrifice it required. May God forgive me.

Years ago, my daughters shared with me a song that included the phrase, “Sometimes the hardest thing and the right thing are the same.” Placing her child for adoption was, undoubtedly, the hardest thing this young mother had ever done. Gratefully, she knew she was “doing the right thing.” Handing his son over to be crucified took incredible sacrifice on God’s part. Gratefully, he knew it was the right thing, too.

Without question, “Sometimes the hardest thing and the right thing are the same.” And in ways I can’t fully understand or express, I’m incredibly grateful for that fact.

To God be the glory…