When Our Hearts Shook

When Our Hearts Shook

Last Saturday night about 60 of us sat in the LivingWaters sanctuary and listened while a panel of adult adoptees shared their stories. They opened up their hearts and poured out their reality in raw honesty.

The pain, the grief, the rejection, the hope, the love.

Their stories were all different. International adoption, infant adoption, foster care, domestic adoption, adult adoption, abandoned as a teen, abandoned on the street, placed from one set of loving arms to the next.

One of the things that struck me, even though I knew it, that night I saw it was this: the themes are the same. They all related to these themes no matter how different their story was from the others. They all felt these words and phrases that were spoken.

One person would say “rejection” and they would all nod.

Another would say “don’t belong” and they would all nod.

Not good enough… nods

Abandoned… nods

Not loved… nods

Can’t trust anyone… nods

What was wrong with me… nods

Why couldn’t they love me… nods

It was amazing. Like I said I knew it, but that night I saw it.

Breaks your heart doesn’t it? Broken hearts, something else they share.

As an adoptive parent it was almost too much to bear – hearing all that pain and grief from the people you would do anything for and love with a love so deep it hurts.

The thing about adult adoptees is they know they have to figure out who they are. Their identity got lost in the shuffle of life. As a kid it can come out sideways and backwards, but as an adult they face the reality of having to make a decision on where they will base their identity. Every person on the panel also grew up in a transracial family. They don’t look like their parents, their parents don’t look like them, more identity confusion.

Saturday night we listened as they wrestled with trying to explain who they are, what they struggle with and how they have come to terms with the lives they are living.

It was powerful as their hearts shook loose and they trusted enough to share their deepest pain. It was powerful as our hearts shook loose and we listened with total acceptance. It was powerful to watch the processing and healing begin as the hurt was uncovered and the grief was spoken out loud.

After many tears and some laughter at shared awkward life experiences, we laid our hands on them and prayed for them, and all other adoptees in the room. We prayed for God’s love to sink so deep that all pain would be gone.

We prayed a blessing on that gut wrenching – heart shaking – breath taking night.

Then we sang. We sang and the words of this song went deep into our souls. For we know that God is the one that heals. His love calls us. He gives us our identity. He brought us in. We belong with Him.

He knows who we are. He tells us who we are.

Who You Say I Am

“Who am I that the highest King would welcome me? I was lost but He brought me in
Oh His love for me, oh His love for me. Who the Son sets free, oh is free indeed
I’m a child of God, Yes I am
In my Father’s house
There’s a place for me, I’m a child of God, Yes I am
I am chosen
Not forsaken
I am who You say I am
You are for me
Not against me
I am who You say I am
In my Father’s house
There’s a place for meI’m a child of GodYes I am 
(Songwriters: Ben Fielding / Reuben Morgan)
The Lord your God is with you, you are not alone. He is a Mighty Warrior who comes to save you when you are abandoned. He will take great delight in you, you are wanted. With His love, He will calm all of your fears. He will rejoice over you with singing because you are not rejected. Based off of Zephaniah 3:17


  1. Thank you Julie so much for creating this heartfelt response to being part of the audience… to hear these 5 young adults stories. I pray that these young adults all understand how heavy our hearts were to hear their journeys and yet to celebrate how God has walked beside them along with their families. I also pray for each family that is currently in the midst of raising another generation of adoptees, that we will all step alongside them and that they will not feel alone in this journey of life but will feel the love and support of their church and their families.

  2. Thank you for sharing. That song says it all. Love you, Julie, and will forever be grateful for the impact you had on my life as a teen.

  3. Linda Emanuelson : November 21, 2019 at 11:17 pm

    Thank you for putting words to that evening. I cry now as I read your words. Thank you brave souls for being raw and vulnerable. I pray there was healing even in that. Thank you for giving me deeper understanding. Thank you….thank you!

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