Was it God's will I be adopted?

photo credit:  riverroadumc.org
Many in the Christian community and otherwise, believe that it is God's will and under his direction that children be adopted.  I am not going to get into a Bible study on this blog, but I will mention many Christian concepts as they frame my beliefs about adoption.

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


  1. Actually, I like the way my parents handled it. I was placed with them when I was 9 days old. I think they told me I was adopted when I was 10 days old. When I was old enough to fully understand and ask questions, they gave me honest age appropriate answers. "Mom, why was I adopted?" Answer, "because your mother was not married when you were born and was unable to properly care for you. She wanted a loving, stable home for you with a mother AND a father, so she made the choice to place you for adoption." She also explained what a gut wrenching (not her words) decision that must have been for her. I never felt abandoned by my birth mother -- I always felt loved by both sides -- even before I knew her.

    1. I think my mother told me that my mother wasn't married and couldn't keep me and I think that was the trick for me. I did find her and she refused to have anything to do with me. It hurt but it is her loss. She is living with the taboo that was of the times and just wan't able to tell the world to forget it..

  2. I think one of the under talked about dynamic about adoption is that the orphan loses their voice in the whole processes. We are not granted the space to speak from our hearts. We face continual censorship. We face lifelong loss. Immediately the adoptive parent assumes the position of God or Saint in their minds and other people's minds and the orphan is still the "rummaged goods." I think this is the most unsung discrimination in the world. We can talk about sexual orientation discrimination, racial discrimination, any other discrimination and people rise in anger. But- for the adoptee, there is no such uproar. It is just heartbreaking to me. Even as I try to overcome genetic stereotypes as a stepmother, I feel discrimination coming my way still. But it is not for the glory on Earth; but for the glory with God in Heaven. Well said, Lynn!

    1. Meredith Elizabeth, i deeply identify with this censorship and have come to call it, "The Big Hush". It comes first and most severely from the idea that if we ask our natural questions as a child, and seek comfort for our natural pain as a consequesce of relinquishment, that we are betraying our adoptive families, most often the adoptive mother. This really came into the spot-light for me when I was recently attacked by an adoptive parent on a progressive message board for the offense of stating that not all adoptees are excited and thrilled for having been torn apart from my biological family to be a "fix" to middle class people's problem of infertility. This really knocked me out emotionally as it took almost 40 to forgive my adoptive mother for what she placed upon me, thinking that surely those barbaric, old-fashioned thoughts about adoption had been burried along with other ancient garbage. The Big Hush, its a soul sucker.

  3. thanks for the comments . .. . Meredith I was a stepmother too and I totally understand (God must have a special plan for us stepmothers!). Carla, I'm glad to hear your parents handled it so well and you didn't feel abandoned. Myself and many other adoptees felt the pain of abandonment. My parents were really good about using appropriate words as well.

  4. Lynn,

    This is a very insightful post. I love it. Part of the issue for me in speaking my truth is that with all of these people "speaking for God" when I speak what God has personally spoken to me (and yes, I believe He does that) they attempt to invalidate it. The issue is, they are speaking for God concerning MY LIFE, not theirs. I believe God speaks to us as individuals. It brings harm to the adoptee that everyone starts telling them from childhood what God is saying to them and about them when God may be (and in fact probably is) speaking something entirely different to them. Hearing God requires shutting out a lot of other people's voices.

    Amazing post!!!

  5. Lynn, thank you for sharing your insight...I believe in the sovereignty of God, that nothing comes into my life that is not filtered through God's hands of love. I believe there are no “accidents.” I believe God planned who my birth parents would be and who my Mom and Dad would be, and both influences, plus His, are needed to help me become all that He created me to be. I believe that God sees the end from the beginning. He knows me intimately, He knit me together in my mother's womb, one day I will see Him face-to-face and I will know as I am known...I am a facilitator for the All-Adoptee Growth Group...we welcome all adoptees to join us on this yahoo group... http://groups.yahoo.com/group/ALL-ADOPTEE/

  6. I had a totally different situation. My birth father asked his brother to consider taking me. My grandfather agreed to take me and changed his mind. I am glad he did he was an alcoholic. He knew my parents wanted another child 39-40's and couldn't. My mother couldn't care for me.
    I am forever thankful for my parents. I miss them. My birth mother is my aunt and is a disturbed lady who hasn't reckoned with giving me up. They were racked with guilt and shame. I know I wouldn't be who I am today.
    I have not been rehearsed in saying this. Its the Truth. My parents should have told me early on who they were but I have hashed it through and move on knowing adoption touched me but it didn't define me. God defines me and I am his daughter. I am 54 and now hope I can use what I learned to help others.

    1. this is too often the response to the 'better' life. adoption soul murders a mom, and just as the people who wanted a baby don't care, neither does the child that was separted, leaving a woman to grief and ptsd for the rest of her life. somehow we can't seem to teach compassion. greed just seems to be so incredibly important. i do think forcing a woman to pretend she is an aunt is a daily shaming that her own family doesn't love her, she did not remain unable to care for her child forever, only to the extent that it was good for her family and not her. cruelness in her face every day

    2. I agree with nadese. Has it ever occured to anyone that had we not been forced to relinquished we wouldn't be damaged goods? I really get sick of the blame placed on the natural mother. We made a choice? No, wouldn't that be God's will also? Double standard, I think. Because she was forced into a life of silence and pain - maybe for decades and decades - once found, they are supposed to overcome all of the hurt and issues surrounding the relinquishment in an instant? Is that God's will, too? Or, no, that's the mother's thing. Geez folks, you can't have it both ways. Adoption isn't a "God" thing; it's a man-made institution. If you believe it isn't, then I ask you to tell me that war, poverty and illness are also God's will. Is it God's will that parents adopt? Only if the baby falls out of the sky directly into their laps. Only if it were free. I guess you're going to tell me it's God's will they pay out the wazoo for an adoption, making the baby a product. Geez. There's no way to simplify this issue. If it truly is God's will, then it's ALL God's will. If it ain't, it ain't. You can't pick and choose.

  7. Is it Gods will that people are murdered ? women raped ? people tortured ? Well I doubt it. What makes it Gods will that I was adopted then if things that should not happen are not Gods will. Seems it comes down to if something happened I can decide that its Gods will. Afraid if this is someones view of God that is rather disrespectful. So why was I adopted- because my mother was not given any support when she became pregnant and she was told I had died. Gods will ? No man's corruption.

  8. Thank you to all who commented. I have never really talked to any other adoptees about how they view God's Will in their lives and it has been very insightful hearing the different viewpoints.

  9. I definitely feel that God was with my struggling young self. At five years old, I was given a fresh chance in life. Though my birthmother loved me, she was not able to be a parent. My adoptive parents, through nothing less than a miracle, found me. I know that it was God's Will.

  10. I guess a lot of how we see God's will depends on how we view God and his involvement or non involvement in our lives. I grew up as an adoptee without any church involvement and the more I became aware of my post adoption issues the more distant and indifferent it seemed God had become. Without first coming to the Cross, I had no understanding about the Will of God for my life or for Jesus for that matter. The worst possible outcome happened for Jesus and yet it wasn't something he easily accepted. For us adoptees, without slipping into fatalism, we see that somehow a loving compassionate God is able to work out His purposes through our lives despite the wounds of relinquishment. He is able to strengthen and heal us to rise above settling to be the next victim of someone elses' mistake coupled with an exploitive adoption industry. The Old Testament story of Joseph is one of my favourits and an illustration of God's Will being out-worked through the act of Joseph's abandonment by his brothers. They meant it for evil, but God meant it for good. Just follow the story to see how God raised up a champion to save many nations from famine. We have some painful wounds but as we connect with the plan and purposes of God, we are not only healed in the process but can be carriers of hope to a dark world.

    1. Thank you, Jan. I am glad you reminded me of the story of Joseph. You are absolutely correct! The parallels are there even though Joseph wasn't formally adopted, he was abandoned by his family and God was with him and meant it for good. Thank you for sharing that wisdom.

  11. I don't believe God used me so another woman could be an adoptive mother. I think that was people playing God.


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