How This Painful Video Brings Me Joy

It’s so easy to feel overwhelmed and defeated in this world. Beginning last fall was a fairly difficult five to six months for our family filled with financial difficulties, unemployment, endless sleepless nights, sicknesses, death and grieving just to mention a few. We’ve been down hard roads before but that doesn’t make the next one any easier. Although, the experiences and the lessons we learn in those messy and painful trials give us a new perspective with which to face the next challenge.

I love analogies and visuals. It just makes so many things easier for me to digest and understand. I enjoy using sports examples because it’s so often a perfect analogy for life, and it’s how God taught me so many important lessons. I’m learning quickly that children, parenthood, and adoption are also pretty amazing illustrations.

Zoe and Zadok cuddling on the playroom floor.

Zadok is now 14 months old. Over the last two months, my husband and I would watch him and then tell each other things like, “This is the age Zoe was when we first met her,” “This is the age Zoe was when she came home,” and “I can’t believe Zoe was this old when she came into our family.”

The day we met Zoe was about two weeks after her first birthday. So she was still very much a baby, but yet old enough to know her caretakers from strangers and have attachments. Her whole world, everything that she knew, changed completely in a single day. I cannot even fathom. I watch Zadok now, and try to picture if he had to go live suddenly with someone else. Yes, I cry every time. The thought alone breaks my heart into a million pieces, but I have to let my heart go there because Zoe’s really did. And Dakaia’s will, too.

So I want to share with you a short video that may seem disheartening when you first watch it. But stay with me and I’ll explain how while it still hurts to watch, I can now see that it’s filled with hope and encouragement that leads to joy.

This video is the very first moment we met Zoe. She was terrified. She didn’t want anything to do with us, especially me, and she even tried to leave the room. The woman you hear narrating is our sweet guide and now friend, Amy, and the woman holding Zoe’s hand is the orphanage director.

Adoption is a wonderful thing, but sometimes we forget that it is born out of unspeakable tragedy. A child first loses his/her biological family. There is grief and mourning and questions that will be asked over a lifetime and perhaps never answered.

Zoe had never been outside of the orphanage walls. Then suddenly one day, she was taken on an 8 hour car ride and given to people she had never seen that look different and speak a language she had never heard and did not understand. She had no idea what was happening and was terrified. I would have been, too. I was for her.

Me with Zoe in our hotel in Guangzhou, China.

But we knew something Zoe didn’t know. We knew she was finally going to have a family. A FOREVER family. We knew she would be loved and given the very best care because we were going to give it to her.We knew that it would be scary and it could be a rough transition, but we were prepared to love her even if she didn’t love us in return. We knew the plan for Zoe’s life from that point forward was to be our daughter. We knew being part of a family was better than life confined in an orphanage with no one to love her unconditionally. We knew. But she didn’t know these things, so she feared, tried to run in the other direction, wanted anything but what we could give her.

What I saw in Zoe in those first moments is what I see in myself sometimes, especially when things get hard. Life is unpredictable and sometimes downright scary. We can’t always see the road ahead, if a curve or a cliff is coming. Some days the fear of not being able to see the next step is enough to make us want to throw it in reverse and hightail it back the way we came.

“We love because he first loved us.”

— 1 John 4:19

But the good news is there is One who knows the plan for our life even though we can’t see it. The One who gave His own life for us before we even knew Him. This same One who is preparing a place for us already. He loved us first.

““Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also.””

— John 14:1-3

That’s how it had to be with Zoe. We loved her first, prepared a place for her, brought her home to live with us and loved her through all of the pain. Today she is a healthy and happy 3 year old thriving in every way. She is loved and adored by her family, and she loves so big in return.

I’m not using this analogy to say adoptive parents are like God or are saviors. It’s quite the opposite as we are still sinners being sanctified daily, and we had our own selfish motives in adopting- wanting to be parents. I’m using this example because I see myself in Zoe. I see how far she has come and how much she has blossomed. But if she had gotten what she wanted and high tailed it out of that room, not only would her life be drastically different, but so would ours.

Zoe has been such a blessing to our family,. She and Arella are more than sisters, they’re best friends.

That thought really pounds it home for me. When I trust God and move faithfully forward in the direction He wants me to go, even when it’s scary, I will not only be impacting my life but others as well. And if I trust God to do good things through the work He has for me to do, then I must trust that that good work will go well beyond myself and pour out onto others. If I throw it in reverse and run back with my tail between my legs, not only will I miss out on some awesome blessings, but how many others will as well?


  • Jamie Grace
    Posted at 14:31h, 14 April Reply

    laura i can’t!!! sitting in bed crying. this blessed me in more ways than one. i’ve got to meet these littles!!

    • Laura Wilkinson
      Posted at 18:53h, 14 April Reply

      Jamie Grace, girl I love your precious heart. Either you’re coming back to my neck of the woods and we’re taking you to Chipotle or we’ll road trip to find you! 🙂

  • Janet
    Posted at 15:30h, 14 April Reply

    Such a beautiful analogy! Thank you for sharing that!

    • Laura Wilkinson
      Posted at 18:54h, 14 April Reply

      Thank you and you are most certainly welcome! I just want to share what God shares with me in hopes that it will reach someone else, too.

  • Julie
    Posted at 17:16h, 14 April Reply

    Laura, thank you for sharing. Even though our children were infants when we brought them home, they were also whisked off to a culture not their own. My heart aches for the answers they may never have, but our God is so much bigger than that. Thank you again for sharing your heart.

    • Laura Wilkinson
      Posted at 18:55h, 14 April Reply

      It’s so hard not knowing answers. Sometimes that’s almost worse than knowing the full tragic tale. But yes, God is ALWAYS bigger.

  • Lisa
    Posted at 18:15h, 14 April Reply

    Love this! As the mother of an adopted girl (now 19!), your video flooded my heart with memories. Spicy Peanut is precious…thank you for sharing your video.
    Looking forward to following your journey.


    • Laura Wilkinson
      Posted at 18:56h, 14 April Reply

      Thank you! I would love to hear your wisdom of having gone through your experience and now your daughter’s views as a young woman! Will you shoot me an email through the contact page?

  • Sarah
    Posted at 18:49h, 14 April Reply

    Thanks Laura! This was such a timely message to read! We adopted a three year old and BOY it’s been tough and still is. He has attached brilliantly to his new family but behaviour… well let’s just say the struggle IS real. I have only just finished a deep discussion with my in-laws about our little boys progression and I genuinely feel at the end of my tether! God had certainly spoken to me through you and I have been reminded of His plan!! Thanks!

    • Laura Wilkinson
      Posted at 18:58h, 14 April Reply

      Hang in there Sarah. I’ll pray for you. How long have ya’ll been home?

      "And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up." – Galatians 6:9

  • Lisa Shaull
    Posted at 22:22h, 14 April Reply

    I am an adoptive mom of 2 almost 3 girls. The first one Jasmin aka Jazzy was 5 months when we met her and two years old when she came into our lives and never left. Our adoption story comes from the foster care system actually we were non relative extended family members. We were finally able to adopt her at 5 years. Oh did I mention she has Down syndrome? She is our Angel and just loves life.
    Our second daughter Natalie was practically dropped into our laps at the small age of 5 months and never left and through a miracle of sorts we adopted her at 23 months old. She is now 6 years old. We are now raising my niece who is 7 years old and has been with us for Nearly a year and if all works out we will do a kinship adoption next year.
    All I can say is that God builds families. He has a plan for each one of our precious children.
    I have each of their stories documented to recall Gods goodness.
    Reading your post reminding me of Gods goodness and how much he loves children.

    • Laura Wilkinson
      Posted at 02:19h, 15 April Reply

      Oh Lisa, thank you for sharing that! Our broken world can be so hard to navigate, but yes, God builds families and knits us together. I love that you have documented their stories. That’s why I started this blog, too. I’m making a book for Zoe now of her story, and I’m so thankful that I blogged into the wee sleep deprived hours of our first few weeks together so we can look back at it now. It’s amazing to me how much beauty can be born out of ashes.

  • Win Kobus
    Posted at 23:40h, 14 April Reply

    Hey Laura,
    I ruptured my left Achilles on the weekend in my first ever soccer game (first and last for the season) and have to get it operated on tomorrow. Although, my faith in the Lord is strong, your words were like rays shining through the thick fog that I had surrounded myself in this moment: I will trust God and move faithfully forward in the direction He wants me to go, even when it’s scary. Thank you for sharing.

  • Rebecca Langford
    Posted at 00:16h, 15 April Reply

    What a beautiful blog post. I have a little sister, 3 nieces and a nephew who were all brought home from orphanages in Colombia and Bulgaria, and were all between the ages of 6 and 13 when they were brought to the other side of the world to a family they didn’t know and a place they didn’t understand. I’ve also had the opportunity to spend some time serving in a Colombian orphanage, and when I watch your video my heart also goes out to the young woman holding your daughter’s hand. Those orphanage workers put on such brave faces knowing that they are releasing a child whom they have grown to love and cherish into the arms of strangers, more than likely never to see them again. So much emotion, pain, beauty, and extraordinary love there is in adoption.

    • Laura Wilkinson
      Posted at 02:26h, 15 April Reply

      Yes Rebecca! Zoe’s director tried to hide tears, even her assistant with her. We’ve kept in touch a little with the orphanage through our guide and we’ve sent pictures and care packages. It’s like so many of the sweet foster parents I know that have to love on the placements in their home knowing they won’t be able to stay. So much prayer needed over orphan care around the world.

  • emily
    Posted at 02:02h, 15 April Reply

    Hey 🙂 I have nothing to say, I am speechless. I just had my miscarriage last year and I blame God losing my child away from me. We both have different struggle and how to accept life in different ways but when I see your video makes me want to adopt an angel for us but I’m scared I might don’t provide her/his needs in the future.

    • Laura Wilkinson
      Posted at 02:32h, 15 April Reply

      Oh sweet Emily I am so sorry for your loss. You might find comfort and hope in a post by a friend of mine after she miscarried:
      Talk with God, yell at Him if you need to, but just start talking. He’s ready to listen and He can take whatever you need to say. After it’s all out, be ready to start listening.

  • Cindia Chapman
    Posted at 12:25h, 16 April Reply

    Words simply cannot describe the feelings in my heart after reading this beautiful article! What a tremendous analogy! Thanks so very much! I will most definitely be sharing this one!

    • Laura Wilkinson
      Posted at 18:47h, 17 April Reply

      Thank you so much Cindia! I’m so glad you enjoyed it 🙂

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