I really love the quote, “She had a baby growing in her heart, not in her belly, like so many other mommies,” which is taken from a favorite adoption book that sits on a shelf at home, Mommy's Heart Went POP! And it's true—adoptive mothers probably all agree their adopted children spent some time growing inside them...just not in their womb.

I know I got to see my mom’s heart swell with anticipation and excitement as she meticulously completed paperwork, prepared our home, and ultimately neared the day she and my dad would hop on a plane to go get their child—a child that was born to another mother but belonged in our family.

What I didn’t realize during our first adoption is that I would be fostering my adopted siblings inside my heart, too, and my life would be changed because of it. Let me try to express how incredible it is to be the sister of adopted children.

When I was no older than nine, my family made the prayerful decision to begin the adoption process of a little boy from Rwanda, Africa. Ten years later, I now have three brothers and a sister who grew not in my mother’s belly, but in her heart. To imagine them not being in my life would be like imagining a different me altogether. There are a number of reasons why I would be a different person, but here’s the most powerful image I can think of.

Imagine you're at the airport, waiting for your parents and new sibling to come home after weeks of being away. From the very moment you see them walking in from the terminal, you become keenly aware of a section of your heart you previously didn’t know existed; a section filled with unexplainable love for a person you’ve never even met.

Those seconds of waiting for them are excruciating. You take everything in as your parents stride toward you, your new sibling wrapped in their arms. “This is it!” you think. “This is my brother, the one I’ve been praying and preparing for all this time!" When they reach you, it seems as if two worlds have finally collided.

Suddenly, the child you only knew in pictures and dreams is standing before you, and as you squeeze hands and kiss cheeks and hug the tiny body of your new sibling, you see yourself reflected in this lonely child that was pursued out of a deep, profound love.

Oh, what a love. It’s the sweetest picture of adoption I know, and it’s that of my own.

“In love he predestined us for adoption to sonship through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will - to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves.” —Ephesians 1:5-6

I was a spiritual orphan; I was destitute in my sins, having no inheritance and no name. Jesus paid the ultimate price so I might be welcomed into his family. And it was all done out of love. Because of that, adoption is constantly reminding me of to whom I belong. So yeah, adoption is pretty life-altering, for all involved.

I used to think traveling halfway across the world was a long way to go for a child, but heaven to earth is quite a lot farther.