It didn't take long before our hearts were attached to the two young sisters we foster parented. Within the first week they were in our home, my husband, Lincoln, and I knew that, given the opportunity, we would adopt them. Two years later, it finally happened: They became Knowles girls at last, and there was great rejoicing in our family.
The celebration, however, came with both tears and loss, for they are a common part of the story for many adoptive families. Exactly how and when these feelings of loss arise is unpredictable, but they must be acknowledged, grieved and worked through. Like thousands of other kids in foster care, our girls lost what almost every child desires – to be raised by the parents who made them.
Lincoln and I also entered the adoption process with our own feelings of loss. We have never named a newborn, and we may never get the opportunity. We have never had the joy of seeing each other's likeness in a child. Our family has no baby photos of our daughters. We missed out on the tender years of their infancy.
Yet God has also given us many blessings. Even before the girls came to live with us, we discovered that one of Lincoln's co-workers was part of a church small group praying for parents for two little girls who needed a home. These young sisters were in the temporary care of another family in that same small group, and Lincoln and I were apparently the answer to their prayers.
That family introduced the girls to Jesus, and they read Bible stories with the girls every night. The girls brought a Bible storybook with them to our home, and they insisted that we continue to read from it every night. We were delighted to honor their request.
The girls bonded to our marriage even before they bonded with us individually. Our third wedding anniversary occurred just one month after they moved into our home. To be honest, we were so tired from our daily life as new parents that we hadn't even discussed how we might celebrate. But the girls had plans of their own. They insisted that we dress up while they played the part of preachers. After they "married" us, they played music and insisted that we dance. Their joyful response to our marriage and our home gave us a memory we will always cherish.
Those were just the first of the many blessings God gave us; there have been countless others since. The girls, now ages 10 and 12, are flourishing, with lives full of family and friends.
In his book The Problem of Pain, C. S. Lewis wrote that God "shouts to us in our pain." Lincoln and I now see that the pain of our infertility was an opportunity to hear and know and seek God more deeply, to experience His love for us, and to prepare us to pass that love on to our daughters.
Ephesians 2:10 tells us that we are "created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand" for us to do, and Acts 17:26 says that God has even determined the places where we would dwell.
We watched Him prepare our hearts and lives for our children, and He is now preparing our children to bless others. Ministering to children without families through foster care and adoption is to participate in a truly glorious process.
Jenny Knowles and her husband, Lincoln, are adoptive parents to two sisters through foster care.