January 19, 2012 by greenhouse04
I often hear from Christians that adoption is a wonderful and noble calling, one highly endorsed by God Himself. They say that they would adopt if they could (if they didn’t have several biological children already), and that they in fact plan to one day. They also remind us that all Christians are adopted – by God Himself. So you see, adoption is nothing to sneer at, and those who have adopted and those who are adopted should be proud.
But for those who have been adopted, and for those for whom adoption is the only way to build a family, things are a little less clear and wonderful-seeming.
I am not adopted myself, but as I love two children who are being adopted, I have wrestled with how they must feel as adoptees. Their deep-seated feelings of abandonment and their craving for identity and belonging would probably make the sometimes trite quips from Christians about the holy calling of adoption seem – well, like trite quips.
As a parent who is adopting, insecurities and questions have arisen that I could not have foreseen before starting this process, that I had no idea adoptive parents struggled with. I love my children dearly, but am saddened that we aren’t related genetically, that I didn’t carry them in my womb and give birth to them. In the case of Eddie, I didn’t even know him as a baby and young toddler. Negative experiences with Emma’s birth parents in the past give rise to troublesome feelings and memories when I see their resemblance within her. I fear for their future – will they come to terms with their difficult beginnings and find a whole and healthy identity in the Lord? Or will they struggle and make bad choices, similar to the ones their birth parents made?
I also find myself struggling to truly believe that adoption is God’s high calling for those who want to follow in His footsteps. After all, the reason I’m adopting (when you get right down to it) is to gain children, to become a parent. And because I was unable to become a parent the traditional way, I’m adopting. There’s nothing wrong with wanting to be a parent – it’s a normal, good, God-given desire. But I can’t say that I’m adopting because, after studying the Bible, I found it an irresistible pull straight from the heart of God, nor because I was so overwhelmed by the realization that I am adopted by God that I wanted to demonstrate that spiritual reality in a tangible way to a needy child.
And sometimes I have trouble seeing how the Bible endorses adoption. Is adoption truly close to the heart of God, and why? If it is, why do all the famous “barren” women of the Bible eventually miraculously have a biological child? Why could they not adopt? The one time a barren woman (Sarah) tried to adopt (Ishmael) it turned out badly for all involved, and was against the will of God. The one woman I can think of who never had children (Michal, David’s first wife) became barren as a punishment for pride. Why is the bloodline so important in the Bible if adoption is such a noble calling? Not one of Jesus’ ancestors were adopted – his bloodline could be traced back to David and Abraham, a very important heritage.
Many questions. But more importantly, many insecurities. The fact of the matter is, I feel inferior, less of a woman, because I haven’t given birth. I have two beautiful children, true, whom I love as much as a mother could love a child, but I had to take them from the mothers who gave birth to them in order to be a mother myself. We’ll never share genetic material; I’ll never be able to tell them the story of their birth. I am so, so thankful for them, and could not have better children if I’d had biological ones, but very real pain is still there because we are an adoptive family – for both them and me. My infertility and their adoption will always be a reality for all of us, and I need, for my sake and theirs’, to know exactly and deeply why. Why are we just as much a family as a biological one; why can our relationships be just as strong and lasting; why can we be assured that God Himself loves and ordained our family; why can we be proud of our unique calling.
Because of this need to know, I’m on a quest to find a solid base of understanding and confidence from which I can parent my children to the best of my ability. I will post my discoveries and thoughts from time to time.