From an Empty Home to Belonging to God’s Family

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 as sons 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 1:4-6)

In foster care, each youth has a different plan. Some children reunify with their parents and others are eventually adopted into a family to call their own. However, the Ohio foster care system labels approximately one-fifth of youth in Ohio care as “unadoptable” under a case plan called Permanent Placement Living Arrangement (PPLA).

Under a PPLA, a child is placed in permanent and legal custody of an agency and must be placed in the care of a foster care provider, person, or agency; but the biological parent’s rights are not terminated. Since my biological mother retained her rights, she wouldn’t allow me to be adopted, even though it was the greatest desire of my heart.

I felt resentment and bitterness towards God. I didn’t understand why my given mom had severe mental illness that made her incapable of expressing consistent love, why I never met my biological father, and why it seemed as if everyone else in care eventually got adopted, except me.

In my twelfth and final foster home, my foster mother took me to church, served me selflessly, and reflected God’s love to me. I accepted Christ into my life when I was seventeen years old, while singing the song “Good Good Father” at church. I realized I had a Father my entire life, who protected me and loved me better than an earthly father could have.

Belonging to God as His child takes away my pain and worry.

Though I was disappointed because I was never legally adopted, I understood my spiritual adoption was sacred and precious. When I emancipated out of the foster care system on my eighteenth birthday I didn’t have a consistent place to live. When I questioned going to college, I wondered if I would have anywhere to return to for Thanksgiving and Christmas. I wondered who would walk me down the aisle if I got married; but I also knew God would provide and God would stand in, as He always did.

After emancipation, I finished up my classes and competed in my last season of track as a senior in high school. I found rides to school and practice and my track coach, Scott, drove me wherever I planned to lay my head that night. Sometimes he would cook me food and we’d eat dinner together on his open front porch before he took me to a place to sleep. Though many others told me I would become another negative statistic in the foster care system, Scott told me I was capable of finishing school and obtaining a scholarship to college through track.

Scott served as a consistent adult throughout my time in foster care. Though I moved often, I stayed in the same school from my sophomore to senior year and ran track. He coached the three years I ran.

While riding in Scott’s car, I looked out of the passenger window and his gazed steadied onto the road. He asked me, “When track is over, would you like to come and be a part of our family? I asked my daughters and they said they’d love that.”

I have lived in many houses, but five years ago, after my last high school track meet, I went to my first earthly home. I returned to Scott’s home during my holiday breaks from college until I graduated. Scott is whom I consider to be my earthly father. His daughters are my sisters. I changed my last name to share a last name with them; and on my wedding day, Scott walked me down the aisle.

It has been a consistent pattern in my life, when I let things go, even predicaments as big as not belonging to an earthly family or not having a father to walk me down the aisle, God gives me more than I could have imagined back. I’ve gotten better at letting go, knowing God will grant me exactly what I need and more in His perfect timing and grace, so that He May have the glory.

Adoption stems from brokenness of a family, but adoption is a reflection of why God’s adoption of each of us is so sacred.

In dire need of a Father, our hearts cry out to be adopted, parented, and guided. When we encounter Him, His encouraging truth bathes us, our hearts overflow and we no longer find ourselves searching for the unknown. We find ourselves provided for, with than we could have imagined. Once we were all without Him, Fatherless, but because of the Gospel, we are called His children and receive the gifts of inheritance as children do. We always have a Home to return to.

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6DAABB11-2C09-442E-A9AF-C57792CB0833 - Tori PetersenTori Petersen hopes to make her Abba known and loved by His children. She is a wife to Jacob and mom to an eleven month old boy, Leyonder. She is a writer, currently working on a memoir. You can find Tori on Instagram at: @torihopepertersen

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