Learning to love a son

Meredith Flynn —  May 13, 2013
John and Lindsey Teefey and their four sons (from top left): Elijah, Manning, and Owen and Andrew, born in 2011.

John and Lindsey Teefey and their four sons (from top left): Elijah, Manning, and Owen and Andrew, born in 2011.

HEARTLAND | Lindsey Teefey

On March 24, 2010, we received the call we’d been waiting for from the adoption agency. “There is a boy, 27 months old, that we’d like to refer to your family,” said the woman on the other line.

Adoption had been a part of our conversation before we ever got married. My husband, John, and I knew God had called our family to look different. We started the process when our biological son, Manning, was almost two, and felt very led to Ethiopia because of the overwhelming number of orphans there. We traveled to that beautiful country in July 2010 to meet our new son, whom we would call Elijah.

What we saw when we pulled up to the Children’s Home stuns me to this day! Elijah was waiting in the doorway all by himself. Not a soul around. He was waiting for us, and was ready to have a mommy and daddy to hold him. This was a miracle. Although very reserved and shy at first, he immediately called my husband “Daddy.”

On the 22-hour flight back to Illinois, though, fear started to take over. I felt guilty that our biological son would have to adjust to so much, and sad that maybe I would never love Elijah like I should as his mother. And why was I feeling so grief-stricken, since we had been called to do this and knew we’d been obedient?

The next several weeks were some of the hardest of my life. The boys battled for toys and attention almost constantly. Elijah screamed because he didn’t know how to fully communicate with us. John and I sank into depression and felt overwhelmed with anxiety, needing medical assistance on a few occasions. All of this mess made us wonder if we had made a mistake. Why were things so hard? Did God abandon us here, in this place?

pull quote_TEEFEYThe next year was full of hard days. Although we saw Elijah bond to us quickly and he and Manning become really good buddies, we felt as if we as his parents were not bonding to our new son. I remember thinking that it felt as if I were babysitting a child that would soon need to go home.

I struggled daily with the thought of him being my son. Elijah was not acting out, his English was remarkable within months, and he and Manning were true brothers. I wasn’t struggling because of anything Elijah was doing or not doing. I just did not “feel” in love with him, and he did not “feel” like my son. I begged God to give me that feeling, and I found myself mad at Him for allowing me to go through this after we stepped out in faith.

Thankfully, the story doesn’t end there. Because of God’s grace, he was allowing me not to “feel” in love with Elijah. I believe God wanted to show me love can only come from Him. If I had felt it right away, it would’ve been boasting about me, not Him! He kept showing me the scripture from Psalm 27:

“Yet I am confident I will see the Lord’s goodness while I am here in the land of the living. Wait patiently for the Lord. Be brave and courageous. Yes,wait patiently for the Lord.”

We saw God’s goodness. My heart began to soften toward Elijah, and I began seeing things I absolutely loved about him. The bitterness and anger began to fade as he began to feel more like a son to me.

Although fewer and farther between, some days are still hard, and I have to ask for help to be the best mom for Elijah and to love him as I should. I believe those days are reminders of what our loving father taught me and what He wants me to never forget: In order to truly love someone, we need his help beyond belief. Some love comes naturally and feels really good, but he has called us to love our enemies, the poor, the orphans and widows, and the people that are just hard for us. We won’t be able to do it on our own. We have to trust He will mold our hearts to be able to love like him.

Our family experienced another miracle. God showed us that with his help we could love Elijah like our son. We’ve experienced joy beyond explanation.

Meredith Flynn


Meredith is managing editor of the Illinois Baptist newspaper.

2 responses to Learning to love a son

    Charlotte Bickers May 21, 2013 at 6:34 am

    Your story is heart warming. So thankful you shared it. I am sure it will help others. Lord Bless you.



    Lindsey, I have known you since you were a little girl. We all have doubts in our lives, but one thing is for sure;..you wwere destined to be a good mother..you had a great example with your own mother. a Godly woman herself. This story will inspire others to reach out as you and your husband have. God bless your family.