What I Learned about Being a Mom Through International Adoption – California Southern Baptist Convention

What I Learned about Being a Mom Through International Adoption

Published May 03, 2022

By Cathie Smith

“I prayed for this child, and the Lord has granted me what I asked of Him. So now I give him to the Lord.  For His whole life he will be given over to the Lord.” (1 Samuel 1:27-28)

Ever since a young child, I have dreamed of becoming a mother and raising children with my husband.  After marrying in my late 20’s, I looked forward to my dream finally coming true. When months turned to years of struggling with infertility, my dream of becoming a mom began to fade and my heart despaired.  

Although my husband and I had discussed adoption early on in our marriage, we had envisioned it to be after having biological children. During this time, we were serving in Spain as missionaries with the International Mission Board (IMB). While we would have loved to adopt a Spanish baby, there was a lack of babies available for adoption.In fact, many Spaniards were themselves going outside of Spain to adopt. After much prayer and asking questions, we believed that God was directing us to adopt from Guatemala.  

In the process of being matched with a baby boy, we fell in love with a toddler girl. After some time praying and considering our options, we decided to adopt not just the baby but also this precious girl! The process lingered and was filled with much waiting and paperwork. Finally, the time came for us to go to Guatemala to bring our children home! This would be only the beginning of learning to wait on the Lord and to trust Him with our children. The process we thought would only be a few weeks in country turned out to be over seven months!

Thus began a very steep, life-long learning process that continues to this day. Motherhood comes in many forms, but for me, the lessons of motherhood learned through international adoption have helped lead me to the faithfulness and goodness of our Heavenly Father. 

#1 – I learned that being a mom is scary. Our international adoption was filled with unknowns and unexpected outcomes. The timing was arduous and before the adoption timeline was completed, it was discovered that our children experienced health issues. We knew then our process would have added complications but through it all we were reminded that God is forever faithful. 

#2 – I learned that being a mom is about unconditional love that the Father first showed us (1 John 4).  Unconditional love is not limited to biological ties. While our two adopted children were not born of our flesh and blood, they were certainly born in our hearts as the Lord gave us a love for them even before we saw them face to face. I experienced at a deeper level what it means that God loves me and adopted me as His daughter (Eph 1:5).

#3 – I learned that motherhood is a crucible of faith that God uses to strengthen, purify and mold our faith and character to become more like Him. As we allow the Father to work in our lives, He strips away our selfishness, pride, anger and impatience and fills us with His fruit of the Spirit.  It is a process – one that is at times extremely painful, but also one that reveals the heart of the Father more clearly. 

#4 – I learned that being a mom comes at a great cost (but is worth the sacrifice). The cost of international adoption was financial, emotional, physical, and spiritual as we walked through the legal aspects of the process. There was brokenness from abandonment and attachment issues, for the children and a cost to the birthmothers, who, for various reasons (ultimately out of love) gave up their own rights to their children to offer something (a home) they felt they could not provide. Biologically, there is a cost to the mother’s body, sometimes her career choice as well as other personal choices.  Yet through it all, it is worth it.  

Through international adoption, I learned that giving a child to the Lord does not stop at the first prayer of dedication but is a daily, sometimes minute by minute process that exists all through our children’s adulthood. I learned that God is faithful, loving, and kind and desires to transform us to be more like Him. I learned through the greatest triumphs and joys to the darkest nights filled with heartache and pain that being a mom (whether through adoption or birth) is a gift from the Father. Motherhood is worth it.