Hard and Good

Let's all stop acting like adoption is a second class way to build a family.

Now, I know, we are all civilized, enlightened people and would actually never say out loud we believe that being born into a family is superior than being chosen to join a family. But I have to tell you, the way that adoptive families can be treated speaks volumes.

When we announced that we were starting the process to adopt we had people immediately ask, "Well you could look into fertility treatments couldn't you?" When we announced that we were trying to adopt for a second time I had sweet ladies at church clutch my hand and say, "Just so you know, I'm still gonna pray that you have a baby of your own so you don't have to." I've had family joke about adoption and tell me to stop being so easily offended.

Then the clutch was having people joke about selling us their unused embryos from IVF. And then saying, "Well, but then that would mean having someone else raise your biological child, and that would be weird, right?!" Two feet away from my precious non-biological child.

So, excuse me if I push you to step into the hard places to really think deeply about your true feelings of how families are made. Do you suggest to your little girls that maybe they will adopt their babies when they become Mommies? Are you as joyful when friends announce an adoption plan as when they announce a pregnancy? How do you speak about birth parents? I want to nudge you toward mindfulness, however uncomfortable that may be. Because, in the cracks of conversation, when you aren't thinking, your bias spills over. And it stains.

This summer, after waiting for three years for baby number two to arrive, we've had people prophesy that we were already pregnant.


Truth is, when someone told us that God told them that we were pregnant this summer, it was kind of thrilling. "That would be a miracle," we responded. And truly, it would. Our particular diagnosis is rare, and short of divine intervention, conclusive. So when we toyed with the realm of possibility, it was a risk to even wonder. What if I am carrying a child? We did that common math of all hopeful parents, calculating due dates, Christmases, and birthdays. And for a while the potential certainty that pregnancy offers was fun. We would already know the race; the genetic predispositions; the family medical, mental health, legal, and relationship history. We would get to oversee our future child's stress level, diet, exposure to drugs and alcohol and risk behavior. There would be a timeline to anticipate. An arrival date to prepare for. Yet summer passed and in small and larger ways it became clear that no, there was no bun in the proverbial oven.

And I felt relief.

Considering the grief that I have walked through since our infertility diagnosis seven years ago, the fact that I can write that above sentence is no less than a true miracle. God has changed my heart. He has aligned my deepest desires to walk in His will. And for us. His best is adoption. So it breaks my heart when I witness other people operating under the assumption that pregnancy and a genetically related child is preferable. How sad to have such a narrow view of the Goodness of God.

Early in the process of adopting our second child I heard God whisper very clearly, "Get ready to see My Goodness." Well, of course I assumed that would mean that a child was near. So I jumped into cleaning and organizing our home with the ferver that can only be attributed to an expectant mother. Then the months passed. Then years went by as I found myself walking by an empty nursery. Instead of the weight of a child in my arms, deep within I felt an untethering. His Goodness began to stand alone, unfettered by my expectation. God is good, even when I don't get what I want. He is good through grief, through heartbreaking loss, jealousy, and pain. His goodness became untangled from my ideas of what I think He should do. And what I found was freedom. Freedom to see and acknowledge who He really is in my life. Freedom to embrace His presence and comfort even as the winds of doubt and uncertainty whipped around me. He truly became my peace.

I found that I had been equating blessing with ease and goodness with comfort, when in reality God calls us to find Him deep within the hard places. Hard and good are not mutually exclusive.

Adoption is hard. To be sure, the concept of choosing another mother for your child must be one of the singularly most heartbreaking experiences a person can walk through. Leaving everything you know, no matter if it's the warmth of a mother's womb or a country or family of origin, is a life-altering trauma. Saying yes to making a stranger part of your forever family is scary. Helping your child process their early grief and navigating an openness with birth families requires a certain kind of fortitude. And despite it all, adoption is stunningly beautiful. It is life-affirming and awe-inspiring to see that kind of bravery and selflessness up close. Watching families on all sides come together for the love of a child is humbling and lovely. It is my shining dream. And it saved me. I was being carried out to sea, lost in the grief of childlessness. Adoption was my life raft.

So you'll forgive me if I'm a little protective of an institution that has brought me my greatest joy. I choose adoption. It is my beloved first choice, because I have learned that the peace that passes understanding is usually found hidden within the hard, good, things.


Pam said…
This is beautiful, blessings on your family!! My heart exactly!
Sabine Bamber said…
Thank you so much for writing this. Adoption in the US seems much more talked about than in Europe, nevertheless it's often seen as a second or third best solution. In God's eyes its THE solution; possibly the main purpose some of us where created for. After all, we are adopted into His family and are being shown unconditional love despite ourselves.