I love my husband for writing this post because he’d rather have his nose hairs plucked than sit down and write anything longer than a text message. But in this post he shares openly what we are experiencing in our household right now in terms of adoption issues. I started the post but knew my heart was too raw and vulnerable to write without his input. I am thankful he took over for me.
In our house adoption is awesome. We love adoption. Our family is designed by God through adoption. We celebrate adoption. It’s not something we talk about all the time, but we don’t run from the topic in any way. We are parents who have adopted. Our children have been adopted. They know about it because we started telling them their adoption story from the time we were rocking them to sleep before they could walk or talk. But adoption can be, in our son’s word……complicated.
Adoption is beautiful. Moses was adopted. Eli was adopted. Jesus was adopted. Hey, Steve Jobs was adopted. And if you are a Christian, Ephesians chapter one tells us you are adopted too! But as beautiful as it is, it is also a complex issue with complex emotions. Let’s face it, it is wonderful but it is not natural. Mixed in the beauty of being chosen and intentional love there is the experience of loss.
In our home we have been talking about how adoption is “a little bit sad and a lot a bit glad.” The challenge for us as parents is that while we love and delight in the adoption of our children and we have a genuine love and sense of “family” in our family we don’t want to deny the pain of loss that our children do and will feel. While they have gained what we like to think as awesome parents they still have undeniably lost a connection with their birth parents. That loss is deep and primal. There is a temptation to feel a bit rejected when they grieve their loss (“but aren’t we enough parents to make you not sad about that?”) but that is not fair to them. On top of that, to not give them the freedom to grieve their loss robs them of the dignity of processing the whole complexity of the issue. See, I told you it was complicated.
We have been talking about these issues with our son. Our daughter has not quite matured to the point of tackling these issues, but our son is being confronted with them through different avenues. One avenue is from a direction that we should have seen coming but we were blindsided by it nonetheless: school curriculum. Of course they would talk about genetics and inherited traits in life science, we just didn’t anticipate it. So our son is faced with the task of listing the characteristic he inherited from his birth parents. His conclusion is that he doesn’t have any, but that’s not right. We have to talk through how he does have them, we just don’t know what they are. That is a loss for him. Then there is the kids in his class asking him “what did you do to make your parents not want you?” That cuts really deep. The follow up questions of “did your mom do drugs, that would explain a lot” followed by conspiratorial laughter of how funny the inside joke is piles a lot of weight on his shoulders. And then there is the natural internal questions that comes to his mind in his quiet moments of “I wonder what she looks like?”, “I wonder what her voice sounds like?, “I wonder if she would like me?”.
These are heavy and painful questions, but we are so glad to be talking about them now rather than when he is 23 and on his own. It’s hard but I think it’s healthy.
Everybody has their “stuff”. This is just our “stuff.” To not do the hard work of working through your stuff is a recipe for disfunction and eventual destruction. The crazy part is that, like all parents, we have never gone through this before. We feel so out of our depth but that is where the guidance of the Holy Spirit is so necessary and so hope filling. We don’t have the wisdom to know how to deal with this but God gives wisdom to all who ask for it (“please, please, please God…more wisdom!).
I love adoption. My home is crafted by God through it. I couldn’t imagine not having the exact children we have which wouldn’t happen outside of adoption. My children are exactly where God wants them to be. But one of the most interesting things is how the complexities of adoption cause each one of us in our family to lean into God to make sense of things. Well, what else would you want?