When we started the adoption process in the Spring of 2013 we were bombarded with a long list of things that we had to accomplish before we could get licensed for adoption. There were things I was less excited about, and there were things that I looked forward to, like our family photo book.
In adoption, the photo book is very important because pictures are powerful and your photo book tells the story of who you are to the authorities that place children with families. Since this was so important we decided to have our first professional family photos taken. We turned to a friend who is an Uptown Church member and he did a fantastic job. The pictures came out great! We used them in our adoption photo book and we had some of them blown up and hung around the house.
My favorite was the one pictured above. We found this huge old frame, matted it and hung it in our bedroom. I loved just looking at that big beautiful picture. I also loved considering the reason why we had those photos made in the first place. In fact, I think that if you look at our eyes in the picture you can see the hopes of what was to come, the hope that God would use this and the other photos to lead us to the child/children that we would one day adopt.
Over the next few months that photo book was sent to a number of case workers as we inquired about children, but the process never quite worked out until we came across Christian and Emmie. In their case, our photo book was sent over one Wednesday and we were selected just hours later and then they moved in two days later! That is not a normal process, but we have found that there aren’t that many “normal” adoption stories.
When Christian and Emmie moved in, Emmie had a harder time with the emotional transition. She had been through a lot, and she spent a significant part of her earlier days in tears in our bed. One day in a calm moment she looked at that big family photo and expressed a simple yet profound thought. In her quiet, muffled hard to understand voice she looked at the picture next to our bed and she said, “We need a new picture.” Although we had already filled the house with pictures of Christian and Emmie to make them feel at home, this, the largest family portrait of all, was incomplete. The picture was still beautiful, but in a moment our lives had changed and this had become a picture of a family that once was.
Life was pretty chaotic at that point and getting another family portrait made was not the first priority, so I just took it down and put it in the attic and replaced the spot with another picture. But this past year when the adoption was finally finalized we had our family portrait made again. Then, after I matted it and framed it we waited until Emmie’s birthday to reveal the new picture! She loved it, but remembering her old comment may have made it even more special to us than it was for her! Now, hanging next to our bed we have a “new” picture (shown below) that shows our whole family!
I have thought about writing this blog for a very long time, but for some reason, I have been hesitant. I am normally a very open person, but maybe my hesitancy was born from the fact that this isn’t just my story. Or maybe it was the fact that every time I started writing in my mind my words just felt too insignificant. As I conclude writing that is actually what I feel right now. Maybe the words didn’t capture the fullness of the reality, however I still think it was a story worth telling, because this framed image is more than a family portrait, it is a tangible picture of the gospel in that it shows, those that were on their own have been given a home, those that were without a forever family now belong, those that felt passed around are now being shown that they are known and loved.
Adoption is certainly a journey, and looking back God has done a lot in all of us in these past two and a half years, and he continues to meet us in the midst of adoption craziness! We are so thankful for you and for the love and support you have shown all of us as you have been a part of this adventure with us. I am also thankful that the Lord continues to add more and more adoption stories to Uptown, in fact, please be praying for Grae and Laura Garrison who just last week flew to Hungary and are currently taking the next step in their adoption journey. Please remember, whether you are called to adopt, or whether you are called to come alongside others who adopt, these are our stories, and we all get to rejoice together at how adoption is such a beautiful picture of the gospel. It is a blessing to get to examine and learn from these pictures up close in our church family!
Author: Rev. Dave Kulp