One of the most special parts of this trip to Ethiopia was getting to know each of these amazing adoptive families that were in my travel group. I have been so blessed to hear their stories and watch them interact with their kids. After spending the week with all of these families, I am realizing more and more that these children are normal kids with a wide range of personalities and needs. When adopting (or having a biological child, for that matter) you have no guarantee that you will get a happy, affectionate child. Some of the older kids didn't always want a lot to do with their parents. Some were picky eaters. Some cried and fussed a lot. Some were quiet and withdrawn. Almost all of the kids have some kind of sickness going on- some more severe than others. I know of three children that will require surgery upon arrival in the US and all three of those families requested healthy children. I think I could have a tendency to romanticize adoption because we got Sammy, who happens to be one of the most cheerful, endearing children here. I don't say that boastfully. I have nothing to do with it...it is solely his personality. But to romanticize adoption and to think that every child is immediately attached and endeared to his/her parents does not give an entirely accurate picture of what most families go through. All of these kids will eventually be well adjusted, healthy, loving children with a strong bond to their parents. But for many it will take some work, patience, and time. While I feel overwhelmingly blessed to have received a child like Sammy (I'm not saying that he is without fault), I don't think the spirit of adoption is hoping and praying that you get a kid without any problems. The spirit of adoption is about attributing value to a human life because they are made in the image of God. It's about saying, "You belong in a family. You deserve a mom and a dad and unconditional love and a chance to become all that God created you to be. You are welcome here just as you are-- even with all your sickness and moodiness and emotional baggage. You can bring it all to my house and we'll unpack it together. You now have a place to belong." That is what Christ has done for us as He welcomes us with open arms into His family. He doesn't "window shop" at the orphanage picking out the kids with the sweetest smiles, most hearty laughs, and endearing personalities. If that's how it worked I fear many of us, myself included, would have been left behind. But he brings us into His family, junk and all, to be His sons and daughters. And He wants nothing more than for us to accept that as our true identity. As I watched these amazing parents try everything they could think of to show love to their kids who were, at times, stand-offish and exceedingly moody, I couldn't help but think of the vast measures to which the Father has gone to show His love to us. Oh, that we could learn to accept the Father's love, and learn to love others as He does...not window shopping for those with the most favorable attributes, but attributing value to each person, simply because they are made in the image of God.