Adoption pending: Who's in charge?

Originally printed in the Christian Science Sentinel

My husband, John, and I own a fair number of guidebooks on parenting. Some have become real favorites. Not one helped, however, when our daughter Jenna's adoption bogged down in red tape and politics in Paraguay.

The first few months of the adoption process were easy. We treasured pictures of a sweet 3-year-old girl, and mailed her photos and small gifts. In turn, we were sent reports about her living conditions and family background. The details were disturbing.

Professionals write reams about how early experiences drive - or deter - later well-being and success. And we were being cautioned to prepare for the worst. As we digested this, the political climate in Paraguay deteriorated, and the flow of adoptions stalled. With thousands of miles and a foreign government between us, we felt powerless to secure Jenna's immediate welfare or guarantee her homecoming.

But we had a choice. We were used to praying - committed to it, in fact. To us, God is the omnipresent, omnipotent Parent described in the Bible's opening verses. God's creation is complete, and it's all good. "Man" - meaning male and female - is God's very likeness, endowed with absolute "dominion," or control.

As we prayed to understand God's active, intimate parenting of Her children, we felt calmer and more trustful. We saw the simple logic that God, good, must express His goodness dependably, in a way Jenna could feel. Divine Love, God, was showering her - and us - with uninterrupted tenderness and comfort. And this Father-Mother's omnipresence assured us that no locale, including Paraguay, was beyond His jurisdiction.

We thought deeply about our daughter-to-be as a warmly embraced member of God's family - not a foreigner with a built-in set of cultural or national limits. Her individuality was the outcome of God's infinity, beauty, health, and purpose. We felt sure she would know the love of her Father-Mother directly and tangibly, even without our presence.

We also prayed steadily to see that God's government is unlimited. Gradually we stopped feeling helpless in the face of corruption and manipulation. We took action by claiming the power of integrity, humility, and compassion to transform any situation.

Many times our faith was tested. Jenna turned 4 and then 5 with no final date for the adoption in sight. A visit to Paraguay brought us together, but judicial delays forced us to return home without our daughter. The lowest point came after the Paraguayan adoption was finalized, but our own government required an additional four-month wait.

Throughout all this, the essential quality of our parenting prayers was persistence. When passing time and unfair decisions overwhelmed our hopes, spiritual resolve kept John and me from despairing. In prayer we helped each other affirm and reaffirm God's control over everyone involved. We expanded these assertions to include all adoptive parents and kids, and then all families everywhere.

It may sound as though our prayers were of little or no use. But when Jenna finally arrived after 2-1/2 years, we saw the unmistakable effect of our reliance on God: There was virtually no transitional period - just an "instant family" feeling. No emotional problems developed. In the intervening six years, Jenna has remained well adjusted, resilient, and confident. It's as though she has always been with us.

We're convinced our prayers helped to free Jenna, both physically and mentally. But some children in the world remain stranded behind political and bureaucratic obstacles. Can prayer still help? No question. Our divine Father-Mother God guarantees freedom to all His/Her children. Turning to God is a mighty force for healing. And it empowers every parent.

... divine Love cannot be deprived of its manifestation, or object ...
Mary Baker Eddy
(founder of the Monitor)

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