Adopted, Chosen, Belonging Forever

by Tonya Small


“I’m adopted, I’m chosen, I finally belong…” These are lyrics to a song my 6-year-old has been singing over the last few weeks. This is actually a VERY old song about our spiritual adoption as God’s children, but the truths have taken on a whole new meaning to a certain 6-year-old and 10-year-old in my home since October 18. 


When I look back on my journey of caring for vulnerable children—one that began at sixteen years old with the adoption of my brother—I did not expect that adopting my own children would be part of my personal story. I consider myself best suited for the “love them for a while” reality that foster care often can be. In fact, a few months ago, I said no to an infant placement that was heading directly to adoption. 


However, as only God can orchestrate, three years ago I had just arrived back in the USA after serving in South Africa for eleven-plus years in a foster care ministry. God had been deepening my desire to serve even more directly in vulnerable children’s lives and to help the church engage directly in this overwhelming need. The Engage ministry was started at Kossuth and personally, I started the process of becoming a licensed foster parent. Shortly after licensure, I welcomed a tiny infant boy and three siblings aged 3-8 years old into my home. My world changed overnight, and God’s people loved and cared for me and my children in amazing ways over the next three years. At fourteen months old, a flourishing infant was reunited with his father. The family was preserved, and the church continued to love and support them.


The picture was not as clear for my other children. Foster care invites the messiness of a fallen world into your own home, and this was very evident throughout their story. I was trained in the impact trauma has on children’s lives, but seeing the effects in action in broken and hurting hearts took me places I hadn’t expected (emergency rooms, treatment centers, and very difficult decisions, to name a few). 


Despite the brokenness, God remained faithful. Through me and His people, hurting kids learned what it meant to be safe, cared for, and loved. They learned that God asks children to be safe, respectful, responsible, and kind. They have a heart for others who have not felt the safety and love of a family and church. 


In the end, God made it clear that the best path for continued growth, safety, and discipleship of my children was to be made a part of the family they had learned to love and trust. On October 18, two children officially became Smalls and left foster care behind. Adopted. Chosen. Belonging forever. 


Kossuth, you are also part of their family. During two trial placements before our adoption, one of the griefs of both children was that they would no longer be able to see their church family every week. You have “Engaged” with the needs of my family and many more in the past three years. You’ve done this through donating to the care closet, providing Christmas gifts, helping with foster family nights, spending one-on-one time with children, repairing homes, repairing cars, and providing meals. Thank you for loving our Savior through loving “the least of these.” 


In Psalm 68:5-6, God promises that he sets the lonely into families. This month, even many secular circles will celebrate November as adoption month or November 8 as National Adoption Day. This Sunday is globally recognized as “Stand Sunday” or “Orphan Sunday” where churches around the globe will look at ways they can or have taken a stand and stepped into the brokenness of vulnerable child care. I look forward to continuing to see God write stories of love and grace through the opportunities we will have to step into the brokenness and share the hope of Christ together.


My house is filling up. Who’s next up? Is yours the next foster or adoption story?