After four-and-a-half years without the securities, boundaries, and affection of parents, our Katy entered our lives like tumbleweed in a windstorm. With poor vision and never having anything to call her own, she came into our lives grabbing greedily at life and all the trimmings. Our first film footage of her after her arrival in the United States is standing in front of a trash bin at the airport in Washington loading her little bag from India with used and discarded paper cups and cans from an open trash can in the terminal. She thought she had hit the jackpot.
My heart cried out, “Little one, if you only knew what is waiting for you at home, you wouldn’t be stopping here to collect trash.” My heavenly Father spoke to my heart with His first clear message for me about my own orphaned state apart from Him. “Dawn, that is how I feel when you fill your life with meaningless things, when I know the plans I have for you.” I can’t look at the footage of Katy’s arrival without remembering His first lesson.
We had to adjust to the fact that Katy didn’t speak our language and therefore we gave her grace as she began to learn a new set of rules. One morning we were all seated at the table eating blueberry pancakes. She ate hers with obvious delight. Before we knew what was happening she hopped onto the table, crawled full speed to little Paul Burton’s plate, grabbed his pancake and stuffed it into her mouth. He looked up in horror while his pancake was being devoured by the little pancake thief. After a few more of those episodes we tied her to her chair. From her perspective I’m sure she felt the annoyance of restraint, but we knew that her behavior needed to change before she was ready to handle freedom. I again heard that still small voice saying, “That’s a picture of learning to live within my loving restraints.” God lavished His love on us when He gave us His word to hide in our hearts that we might not sin against Him. I saw a visual reminder that His restraints bring us freedom from the burden of sin.
After we had lavished on Katy every thing she wanted or needed, including a new name, and some restored eyesight with surgery and glasses, she told us one day that she was ready to go back to India. I was speechless by her callous ingratitude for all she had been given. I knew she had a very hard life in India, but she also lived there without the new rules, which she decided she didn’t like. She thought going back to her former life was preferable to living by a new set of standards, no matter what she had to give up. To our dismay she went to her closet, got her bag, and started packing. I was sitting on her bed watching her pack thinking, “Lord, did it hurt this much when I walked away from you as a teenager? Did it feel this horrible to watch me throw away every good gift you had given me only to grab for something I deemed better?” I knew the answer. I know He grieves when we grab our lives out of His hands, and say, “Thanks, but no thanks!” My little orphan was teaching me more about my own orphan tendencies and I had to confess to my Abba Father that I was sorry for doing the same thing to Him.
One day when I was at the end of my rope, hanging on by a thread, I knelt down inches from her face and said, “Katy, we adopted you. We love you. We want you to love your new life and your new home, but we can’t force you. We have taken you into our hearts where we love you, protect you, and want the best for you, but you have shown us that you do not enjoy that. Would you tell us when you want to be our little girl? We will keep loving you, but when you are ready to adopt us, let us know, and we will celebrate. We would be so happy to be accepted by you.”
Over the next several weeks we reminded her how much we wanted her, and finally, one day she came to us and said, “I want you to be my parents. I want to be your girl.” There was a big celebration that day. I wrote up a proclamation for Katy to sign. She claimed us as her parents and we had her signature in very large seven-year-old printing! Our orphan had finally come home. Her heart and attitude changed dramatically. She became cooperative and seemed remorseful when she made bad choices. It took a few years before she was willing to adopt us, but when it happened, she began to take delight in pleasing us. This lesson speaks to my heart the most because it is the gospel message.
I was a spiritual orphan, adopted by a Father whom I am only just beginning to understand a little. He has loved me when I behaved in unlovable ways. He has held me in the safety of His wings when I was so frightened. He has been patient with me while I learned to speak His language. I love Him because He first loved me, and held on to me while I kept Him at arms length. He shows me grace while I become adjusted to His Rule in my life. Through the miracle of adoption, Katy and I are no longer orphans, and I pray without ceasing that I will no longer behave like one.
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love he predestined us for adoption through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved. Ephesians 1:3-6