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How do I overcome divorce and losing custody?

Submitted: 11/11/2005
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Question: If a man divorces his wife, loses custody of children, falls behind on child support, and essentially abandons his kids for several years, and then comes to Christ, repents, receives the Holy Ghost, and is baptized in Jesus Name, will God enable him to have a relationship with his children? Knowing that he has been a poor father up to this point, would it be best to give his children to be adopted by their new step parent? Is that even allowed by God? Even when there is little chance that the children will ever know God in their current household? How do you know what God wants you to do versus what you want to do? And where do you begin to right so many wrongs? My heart is heavily burdened by the thought of where I've been and where I wish I could be now, however I don't know what the Lord wants me to do. Or what His will for me is.

Answer: Your story makes it clear why the Lord says He hates divorce (Malachi 2:16). The pain and confusion left in the wake of divorce are difficult to undo. It seems to us that your immediate mission is to do whatever is necessary to build trust. The answer to your question about having a relationship with your children will depend largely on whether they and their mother feel that you can be trusted. This will take some time. You can start by doing whatever you can to make up for the back child support. You may not be able to do a lot, but it is important that you do what you can and be consistent with it. You also need to demonstrate that you are a responsible adult. This means holding down a job, being faithful to church, being on time for appointments, and so on. The Lord will guide you in these things, but you must be submissive toward His Spirit.

As to whether or not you should allow the stepparent to adopt your children, we do not believe God is opposed to adoption. Sometimes it is the best thing for the children. In your case there are too many factors that we do not know about for us to be able to make a recommendation. Perhaps an adoption could be delayed for a while to give you an opportunity to show that you have changed. We do believe that you should be making every effort to reestablish a relationship with your children and be restored as a fatherly influence in their lives. As you have said, you may be their only hope for coming to the Lord.

We hope you are part of a local assembly where you can get godly counsel and encouragement. If not, we suggest you search out three or four mature godly people who can guide you through this situation. Do not try to navigate through it on your own. 'Where there is no counsel, the people fall; but in the multitude of counselors there is safety' (Proverbs 11:14).

We pray that the God who brings order out of chaos will bring order to your life and restore you to your children!