Week 1 of Advent: The hope (and pain) of adoption
This week our family celebrated the adoption of our son twelve years ago on November 29. (I have blogged previously about it HERE , HERE and HERE.) He came downstairs to a few gifts and mementos, including a photo of him being escorted to the courthouse wearing tiny little penny loafers, while holding hands with his soon-to-be dad and sister. Those tiny shoes made the table display this year.
I have now been involved significantly in three adoptions, two adoptions for others besides my own son. In addition, my years as a foster-to-adopt parent in the foster care system have provided some exposure to the life of a child seeking adoption into a forever family. I thought I would talk about some things I have been contemplating lately.
1. All the joy.
I watch adoption videos sometimes and cannot align myself fully with the joy being expressed by well-meaning people who are adding to their family through adoption. I am a proponent of adoption, of course! But I think people can lose sight of the fact that the reason any child is up for adoption is because something went awry…very awry. Those circumstances are a permanent part of each adopted child’s history. With each year of life, the child comprehends more clearly what transpired to make their adoption necessary. I find myself wanting to love adopted children in a way that honors the pain that provided the opportunity for me to love them. I can do that by providing room for them to process their story without any hindrance from me, and I can become a hindrance inadvertently by expressing too much enthusiasm over the forever family they now have, as if what transpired beforehand never happened.
2. An attitude of rescue.
I sometimes think I hear a hint of “we are coming to the rescue” attitude in adoption stories that I cannot embrace either. When our son’s birth mother made a comment about wanting us to adopt him because he would have a better life, I told her we could not adopt him on those terms. Perhaps it’s because I had a brother killed in a motorcycle accident, or because I have an auto-immune disease, or that my husband was orphaned by age eleven, but I realize I can’t promise anyone a good life.
The only thing I had to offer that birth mother was the promise to love that little boy with my style of loving people, and to point Him to Jesus for as long as I am alive. That is all. Thankfully, she took me up on those terms and I have the honor and privilege of being a mother to a son I love, no matter what the future holds for either of us or our family.
3. Having a good relationship with the birth mother.
I happen to have a pleasant relationship with our son’s birth mother, but this point swings back to the first point about pain. I have watched a mother give birth and allow the baby to go immediately into adoptive parents’ arms. To date, it’s the most courageous act I have witnessed, but in those moments of transaction there was both joy and pain in the room. The joy of the new parents was respectfully tempered out of respect for the painful sacrifice just made. Not every birth mother will heal from her trauma, conscience, or circumstances. A pleasant relationship cannot be assumed.
Advent encompasses all four Sundays in December, starting today. I have never been a big advent person, but I find myself wanting to prepare my heart for Christmas with greater intention this year. For me, it’s starting here, contemplating the complexities of adoption.
Jesus came to our rescue before any of us were even born. He became God in flesh for the purpose of eventually dying for our sins. In other words…
the reason each of us was up for spiritual adoption and needing a forever family is because something went awry…very awry.
…fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. (Hebrews 12:2)
I find myself wanting to celebrate Him this year with joy while honoring the painful death that provided me the opportunity to now be a member of God’s forever family. I can do that by expressing a joy tempered with gratitude for the undeserved gift.
I am so grateful He came for us, while also sorry He had to come for us.
Picture Explanation: Our kitchen table decorated for the day that belongs to our son, including his little tiny shoes.
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