|photo credit: riverroadumc.org|
Many parents tell their curious adoptees when questioned, statements like these:
"God wanted you to be our child"
"You were chosen by us"
"Your birth mother gave you to us as a special gift"
"You are God's gift to us"
I believe for the most part adoptive parents want to soothe and help their child understand their complicated circumstances. However, I also believe the statements above and statements similar to these, do the opposite.
Being chosen is generally not true
It is true that adoptive parents choose to adopt, however they do not choose a particular child, for the most part. Even if they did choose a particular child, it feels like a form of indebtedness to proclaim "I chose you". It implies a certain amount of obligation on the part of the child. It also makes it sound like adoption is superior to biological parenthood. Biological parents cannot "choose" their children. They get what they get.
Your birth mother gave you to us as a special gift
If your child follows the logic of this statement, she can easily conclude "and God gave me to my birth mother as a special gift first". Apparently, I wasn't that special or she would not have given me away like a piece of furniture. It sounds harsh, but many adoptees feel like they were tossed to the side like an old shoe.
Adopted children inherently know they weren't wanted by their first family. Trying to make it sound like a good thing just doesn't help. It invalidates what a child already knows deep in her heart. She was abandoned (physically and emotionally) and referring to her as a "special gift" is only trying to sugar coat the obvious.
It is God's Will we are your parents
I don't find it appropriate for me to ever proclaim God's will. To me, that is all ego and not very much God. Second, if it were God's will the adoptive parents be my parents, then it also implies that it was God's Will I lost my entire first family, name and history. Was it truly God's will? It's not for me to say; however, I have a difficult time believing it was God's plan for me to be born into a fractured family -- to a mother who did not even hold me.
Many adoptive parents want to believe that their children came to them because of God's will. And if that is their belief, o.k., but I think you get into sticky territory by proclaiming this belief to your child and forget what your child actually lost before coming to you. It also smacks of a little too much pride to exclaim you know God's will for somebody else. We can know and believe with all our heart that we understand God's will, however, we are just tiny little humans who allow our egos to get in the way of God's true plans many times.
I believe God's will was for me to be with the actual parents he gave me (my first mother and father). But we humans don't always cooperate with God's plan. He gives us free will to parent our children or not. My husband's father spent half of his childhood in prison. I don't believe that was God's will. My father-in-law made choices -- choices that ultimately hurt his son and the next generation.
God entrusted me to my first mother and it was her choice to entrust me to someone else. God entrusted my daughter to her first mother and it was her decision to entrust her daughter to myself and my husband. Free will on the part of my first mother was how I entered into the world of adoption. (I won't get into a discussion here about how many first mothers were coerced--a blog for another day).
Now did God intervene in my life post-relinquishment? I believe so.
It is up to the adoptee to discern how God (and if God) played a role in his/her life.
I don't get to dictate my child's beliefs no matter how much I would like to think I can. When you proclaim "truths" to your child such as "it was God's will you be our child",
it minimizes the loss the child endured in order to become part of the adoptive family.
It also implies that you are all-knowing like God and that the child cannot decide what adoption means to him on his own. I would even go so far as to say this statement can hurt your child's relationship with God. ("Why would God take my family from me? He must be a mean God").
Could it have been God's plan all along that the adoptive parents raise this child? Maybe, but I strongly suspect not. I believe that adoption falls under God's ability and desire to help remedy a sad situation for a child whom He loves. I believe adoption falls into the category of what Paul discusses about a thorn in his flesh. Adoption is a band-aid for a failure of a family.
Can God use adoption for good? Absolutely. I see him doing just that in the life of my pastor/friend Deanna Schrodes at Adoptee Restoration.
Can adoption be used for evil? Absolutely. We see that every day in America where profits are more important than truth in adoption. Adoption is a machine in America and I wholeheartedly believe God looks down on much of it with sadness.
"But are you saying, adoption is all bad and not good?"
No. If I believed that, I would not be encouraging adoptive parents to really think (and pray) before they speak about adoption to their children. Really think (and pray) about how you can help heal your child's wound -- not make it worse.
I also believe this:
And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. Romans 8:28