God in Adoption

On the day that my husband and I decided we were ready to start our family through adoption, I wrote about it in a journal. Many years later, when our family was complete, I re-read that journal and was shocked when I realized that first entry was written on the exact day and year our eldest child was born in Haiti.

Spooky, huh?

Or maybe your first thought is that God had clearly planned the whole thing.

It’s a lovely thought on the surface. There is comfort in feeling like a supreme being is working things out.

If your faith is important to you and your parenting, though, there are healthy and unhealthy ways to connect God with adoption.

Although it sounds lovely on the surface, it is actually pretty damaging to attribute adoption to God’s plan. What this says is that God chose the happiness of the adopting parents over the wholeness of the child, the well-being of the child’s family of origin, and possibly even the development of the child’s country of origin. It is like saying that God gave someone a brain tumor so that a medical student would have the chance to practice surgery.

It can help a child develop a healthy faith in relation to adoption to explain that God did not create the need for adoption, but faith in God can help with the healing process. Humans, not God, have made the world unbalanced when it comes to power and economy (who is in charge and who has the money, in their terms). This creates situations where parents and their family or community cannot raise a child. There are also times when, absent of the aforementioned issues, parents know themselves well enough to understand that an adoption plan is necessary. When this happens, everyone involved can have strong feelings — like grief, anger, and confusion. When those feelings become too much to handle,  it can be helpful to lean on God for comfort and support.

It is damaging to tell a child that God chose him for you or you for him. This message conveys to your child that God did not choose him for his family of origin or visa versa. It tells him that he was essentially misplaced and God had to come in and clean up the mess — that mess being his creation. As an adopted child grows, he will likely fill in any undisclosed spaces regarding his birth story with fantasy. A positive fantasy (even where there were actually negative circumstances) will help him develop a strong sense of self. A fantasy based upon God cleaning up a messy origin will make him feel like an unwanted mistake — presumably the opposite of what you hoped he’d feel when you told him God chose him for you. Once he develops, lives in, and absorbs a fantasy about his origins, he can more readily accept the full reality of his birth story and thoughts of what his life might be like had he not been adopted.

It can help a child develop a healthy faith to explain that when you decided to start a family, you looked to God for wisdom. You knew that no matter how children joined your family, God would help to unite you by being an important focal point in your relationship.You might say that when you realized that you would form your family through adoption, God strengthened you through the challenges of the adoption process. You can share that you hope that when your child struggles with strong and confusing feelings about adoption, she too will ask God for clarity and comfort.

It is damaging to tell a child that God called you to adopt her. This sets you up as a God-ordained savior to your child. It tells your child that she needed saving and that God did not choose her family of origin to do that saving. If your child comes from poverty or oppression, the message that God called you, an outsider, to adopt her, says that God didn’t care enough about her family or country to solve its problems so that families could stay alive and stay together. Instead, God played favorites and called you to swoop in and get her out of there, leaving her family and people to suffer while God figures out who to call for the next adoption.

It can help a child use faith to develop compassion for her family of origin and all people by explaining that God calls each and every one of us to help create a world in which families can stay together and all people can benefit from enjoying the same basic human rights. You can explain that while no single person has the power and resources to solve all the problems of the world, each of us can ask God for guidance in where we are best needed.

Faith can unite a family formed by adoption, but it can just as easily divide one and take the children (and their faith) as casualties. Please consider how you talk about your faith in relation to adoption before discussing it with your children. It is also important to be careful about how you discuss adoption and faith with other people. If your family or friends hear from you that God planned your adoption or that you were called to adopt (read save) your child, they might treat your child accordingly. They might see your child as the product of a family that God did not want raising him and as a person who needed saving. Basically, they might see your child as less-than, as charity. It might likely be subtle, but it can influence your child and damage their self-worth (and sense of worthiness in God’s eyes) nonetheless.

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This post is meant for people who are somehow affected by adoption AND incorporate their faith in God into their relationship with adoption. It is specifically aimed at parents who want to bring a child up with a faith in God. It is not meant for people who do not have or want a faith in God (nor is it meant to judge them), to bring people to any faith, to suggest that faith is required for adoption, to tell people how to live their faith in general, or to solve the myriad of controversies, corruption, and conflicts within adoption.

99 Responses to God in Adoption

  1. I wholeheartedly disagree. Adoption IS Gods plan, He DID create it to deal with the sinfulness in this world(Ephisans 6). Yes humans make sinful choices and leave behind them a trail of brokeness, SO God in his grace and mercy, has made a way for healing.(The entire gospels!) That way was sending His Son Jesus, so that we can be adopted by Him and come into HIs family and receive the healing and restoration that only He can give. We can not find that here in our earthly family of origin(our sinful nature). What a beautiful picture adoption is of what God has done for us! Our children come from brokenness, it does not matter if they are adopted or not, they will all have areas of brokeness and a need for saving by their Savior.(John 3) We ARE called by God to teach them about God and what He has done for them.(Deut. 11) The real danger is in NOT conveying this to them in truth, but trying to soften it and water it down.

    • Amen! I couldn’t agree with you more, Nicole. This is exactly how I explained adoption to groups when my kids were little. I asked, “Who in this room is adopted?” When only my children raised their hands, I told the class they were wrong. Everyone in that room had been adopted. We have all come from places of brokenness and only God can heal.

      • I admire that you both are so strong in your faith.

        I wonder, though, with regards to adoption specifically, if you yourselves are adult adoptees? If you are, I feel like your perspective holds a lot more weight for other adoptees.

        I know, though, that as an adoptive parent, I have to work hard to be respectful of everybody involved in the adoption — my children, their family of origin, their country. Everyone has suffered losses. it would make like much easier for me if I could attribute those losses to God’s plan, but that would only serve to disregard the injustices surrounding our adoption — poverty, inequality, oppression, hunger, etc. If I am not respectful to every member involved in the adoption, my children will internalize that disrespect as their own.

        I believe it is possible to share a strong faith with children from adoption without telling them that God caused suffering to their families, themselves, and their culture. And I believe that, as an adoptive parent, my view of how their adoption came to be is the least important.

        • Why would we say that God caused the suffering? Of course, he didn’t. God’s plan does not include suffering (think of the Garden of Eden), however, suffering is a result of sin. I believe that God’s ultimate plan is for our kids to remain with their original birth families. Unfortunately, for my boys that wasn’t possible due to mom and dad’s choices–my kids weren’t safe. Those were their parents’ choices. Not in any way, was that something God caused. I realize not every adopted child comes from a situation like ours. But, I’m concerned about what we blame on God.

          • Well, it is possible to convey the message that God caused suffering without saying those words. Simply by saying, “This was God’s plan,” a child will eventually deduce that “God’s plan” included the suffering that led to their adoption — including their own struggles.

            In a situation like that of your sons’, they might also wonder why, if God was planning things, God did not work in their first parents to help them make different choices. Or why God allowed an environment that did not help them to heal and raise their children. When we say that the parents made a choice and, at the same time, say that God had planned the adoption, we give a message that God was on your side, but not on the side of your children’s own birth parents.

      • As an adoptee, I find it absolutely amazing/apalling that you feel ENTITLED to ask a room full of children to raise their hands and IDENTIFY THEMSELVES as having been adopted.

        You’d better thank your lucky stars I wasn’t in that room, my dear.

    • If you don’t believe in the original sin theory, and I don’t, then this savior mentality is harmful. Agnostics, Atheists, Non-religious, Hindus, Buddhists, etc. all adopt. Not everyone believes they are “called” by God, some of us just call that little voice in our heads our conscious and choose adoptions as a means to grow our families. That all. No supernatural/celestial interference required.

      • I appreciate your comment, Robbie, particularly since you you come from a non-Christian tradition. Interestingly, I wrote the piece for people of all faiths, but have really only received push back from people who are Christians. I wonder if that does have to do with the belief in original sin (and thus the need to be saved). There have been people commenting, here and elsewhere, that they believe they were adopted by Jesus. This would make the savior stance seem a positive, then, I suppose, for those who hold such a belief.

    • I’m sure that my adoptive parents could have said I was a gift from the devil cause I was sure not a gift from god. Adopties are not gifts we are people in our own right . We do not choose to be adopted and in most cases we would not choose our adoptive parents . It is insulting to an adoptee to be called a gift from god . In my case I was stolen from my mother and given to strangers x if there was a god he would not let babies be taken from there mothers and be sold to strangers . There was no gods plan into adoption just narrow minded society thinking they know better . Turned out that social experiment failed as we are uprising and screaming that adoption is not the way to go . Oh and I’m not a child of sin I’m a child of love my biological mothers love .

      • Deborah, I think so much about the reforms that need to be put into place surrounding adoption can be summed up by your quote above: “Adopties are not gifts we are people in our own right.” (sic)

        Thank you.

    • Using this parallel seems to put the adoptive parents in the place of God and the adoptive children in the place in sinner in need of a savior. I don’t think that creates a very helpful family dynamic. Something to think about.

      • Absolutely, Laura, I could not agree more. Adoption doesn’t save us. APs certainly don’t save us. Only God has the power to do that :)

    • No! No! No!!! There is a huge difference between salvation – our decision, choosing to follow God – and adoption, which is something that happens to us that is beyond our control. If God is our Creator and true Father, He cannot also be an adoptive father. We are all His creation, but not everybody has chosen to be redeemed. When well-meaning Christians try to liken salvation to adoption, it always rubs me the wrong way. Coming to God made me feel like I’d reunited with my real dad, not taken or given against my will to someone who had no claim to me. Yes…I’m adopted :(

    • Has it ever occurred to you that the selfishness and greed of adoptive parents who covet another woman’s baby and fall into prideful thinking that they are morally superior to the baby’s real parents is also sin? You aren’t the Holy Spirit — God didn’t appoint you as the judge and corrector of the sexual sin of others. We have all fallen short of the grace of God, but He can make good (the unconditional love between a mother and her child) out of a bad situation (an unplanned pregnancy due to premarital sex). Nowhere in the Bible does God support adoption, except in His own adopting of all of us as His children. (Remember Moses? He returned to his real people, to his real family.) No human being is superior to the other, so nobody is deemed entitled to a child that God originally granted to another couple. In fact, blood ties and lineage are very important in the bible, so that means they are important to God. They are SACRED. Some people need to accept God’s will of infertility for them. It’s painful, but it’s God’s plan and He has a reason for it. The adoption industry was developed because of the sin of selfishness and greed of infertile couples. Do not covet thy neighbor’s wife, thy neighbor’s goods, or thy neighbor’s CHILDREN!

    • Your quote of Ephesians 6 is about heavenly adoption and not at all about adoption in the Earthly realm. It is a spiritual adoption not a physical one. The adoption spoken of in that passage is nothing like adoption in this current world system. Like everything humanity touches in its sin nature, it is a corruption. Adoption in Ephesians was describing a reunification into the family of God and receiving an inheritance to be called and benefit as “Children of God”. That is not how human adoption works. Adoptees lose their family of origin in the process, their heritage, access to their health history oftentimes and also for some their entire country and culture. God never intended people to suffer so much pain (i.e. as an infant ripped from its mother in the case of infant adoption) for the sake of a human inheritance. They are simply not the same. Exodus 22:22-24 says “Ye shall not afflict any widow, or fatherless child. 23 If thou afflict them at all, and they cry at all unto me, I will surely hear their cry; 24 and my wrath shall wax hot, and I will kill you with the sword; and your wives shall be widows, and your children fatherless.” So, NO, I do not believe for one minute that the God I serve feels that His plan is to separate children from their families so that others who deem themselves saviors or more worthy can raise them. I do believe that people can come alongside and help, and I believe that does more to further the cause of the gospel than claiming human (worldly) adoption is God-ordained.

      • Thank you, OrphanedHeart for this explanation. This passage has been used by churches to justify many questionable practices in adoption — especially the rather heinous practice of adopting to save.

    • I also disagree. I found this article black and white and upsetting. God does use us. I have no doubt that God chose my son and he chose me to be the mother he prayed for. I didn’t adopt my child to save the world or him. God heard my son’s prayers for a family and knew just what I needed. God called me to adopt and I fought it for a year until I was convinced beyond a doubt that, at 61 years old, this is what God wanted me to do. It WAS God. I will tell my son that God chose him and I to be together. That God heard his prayers for a family and chose me to be his mother. I told him that his mother loved him and put her hand on her tummy every day to feel him move. That when he was born she loved him, even when she found out he was blind after a week. I told him that his mother loved him so much, that she put his needs above her wants when she abandoned him in hopes someone could give him a better life than she could in China. He said he is not angry at her and we plan on finding her when he is older.
      I’ll tell him that God knew him before he was born and God will use him, just like He said when the Pharisee asked why the man who Jesus gave sight was born blind. I’ll tell him that God uses us to glorify Him, who gave us life. I’ll tell him that we never know what God’s plans are for us and sometimes we don’t know why or how. Sometimes we don’t want to be obedient because it interferes with our plans and what we want. That I chose to be obedient to God. No, I didn’t adopt my son to save him from his fate in CHINA as a blind person, but God chose for us to be together and we don’t know what God’s plans are for him, but we need go to prayer whenever we need guidance and trust God when He sets us on a different path than what we want. I just didn’t like the way the author wrote that because God did choose Joseph for me, not the first boy I had my heart set on and was determined he was the one for me. There are better ways to say these things. The author is dulling down God.

    • Nicole, I am an adult adoptee and my Amom beat me over the head with “God’s plan” and how grateful I should be. Let me gently explain to you that NOWHERE in God’s word can we find an exam of adoption as it’s practiced in America today. God values bloodlines and lineage. He opens and oses the womb. People invented adoption out of greed, covetousness, and a belief that they knew better than Good who was worthy of a child. The church has historically treated unwed mothers with cruelty. (Baby scoop era). Their own savior was conceived by a poor, young, unwed mother. It’s sickening to me to still hear adoptive parents shoving this crap down the throats of their adopting. The mother that wrote this ACTUALLY GETS IT and I’m grateful for her willingness to speak truth. Now if only the ignorant and obtuse among you would listen.

  2. I am brand new to your blog. I would say I mostly agree but I got a little confused at the part about allowing your children to fill in their adoption story with fantasy. I’m not sure I agree with that. Maybe more clarification or examples would help me to understand.

    • Hi Christina and welcome.

      I’m not sure where you are within adoption. I am an adoptive parent. My kids are tweens and teens.

      Most adopted kids (usually in their pre-tween/tween years) create fantasies about both their families of origin and what their lives would be like had they not been adopted. The less they know, the more they invent through fantasy. This is one of the (many) reasons that adoptions started to open up (another being a consideration of the needs of the family of origin). When children do not have a lot of information or have not continued a relationship with their family of origin, they fill in all the unknowns with greater fantasy. These fantasies and normal and healthy and help children both process their adoption and develop a greater sense of who they are.

      The fantasies are also largely influenced by the stories the children have been told of their adoptions. Therefore, if a child has been told that God orchestrated the adoption, the child will likely develop a fantasy where her family of origin is viewed as one that required saving and intervention, likely as tragic a situation as they can imagine (because children tend towards dramatics anyway), perhaps even a situation where the family was not godly enough. They might also fantasize then that their adoptive family came in and saved them. No matter what the fantasy, the child will likely identify with their family of origin. So, in this scenario, they will see themselves as the tragic figure in need of saving rather than as an equal, valued member of their adoptive family. So it will be difficult for them to ever feel 100% a part of their adoptive family and they will likely always view themselves as inferior.

      It also sets kids up to view their family of origin, and by extension, themselves, as one-dimensional characters — tragic figures in need of saving.

      • My child is 5 and we are in an open adoption. One of my hopes in having an open adoption is to reduce the fantasy of his birth family. I can see where he might still fill in the blanks or imagine what his life would be had he remained with them. He does have a wild imagination anyway! Your explanation helps. Not having read your blog before, I do not know how you feel about openess in adoption, and I was not sure if you were saying fantasies about birth family were preferable to having an open adoption and knowing the reality.

      • My son’s “saviors” were a chain-smoking dad and a mother with a history of mental illness in her family. Their only claim to “righteousness” was that they were married, and at the time, I was not. They wished for a scholar and an athlete; they got a writer and a performer. I told the agency that my baby would, without a doubt, be creative in some way, shape or form (the birth father and I are both creative types). This important information was ignored by the agency. So for those who believe God is behind all of this, you are really drinking the adoption industry “Kool Aid.”

        • Grace, I am so sorry for your experience. This is so painful to read. I am sharing some of my mom’s story, as she was coerced into putting a child up for adoption. It is alarming the way many agencies and adoptive parents treat mothers and their children.

    • Thanks, Minefam. I will check it out. I think struggling with the issues is a healthy place to start. Our children struggle, their families of origin struggle — we need to struggle too so that we can walk with them.

      • For some strange reason, wordpress would not allow me to comment on your blog, but I wanted to say that I appreciated your words and how you are struggling with all aspects of the adoption process (and language involved).

          • After discussing with my husband, I think it has something to do with how our wp account is set-up on our end and the 478,363 things he put in place for security. I could not log into wordpress as your blog asked me to do even though I was logged into wordpress on my computer. I don’t know why, but my husband does. HA!

  3. I love this. Thank you. I believe that parents who tell their children that everything is God’s plan or God’s will are refusing to face the difficult questions that come with adoption. It is always okay for children to question their past or their current circumstances – putting it all on God seems like a disrespectful brushoff to the child.

    • A “brushoff” feels so accurate. It must feel that way. The questions are so big. To encapsulate all the answers into “God’s plan” would feel exactly like a brushoff.

  4. I very much disagree with this article. God IS in every aspect of adoption. God did not create the brokenness that lead two of our children being raised in an orphanage….but every day my daughter prayed for a family. She watched her friends all get adopted and leave and she continued to pray. (her orphanage was sponsored by a Christian church that taught her to love Jesus and God) At the same time across the world we were praying for God to grow our family….just as we had prayed for each and every child brought into our family….by birth or adoption. When we met our daughter in China just before her 10th birthday she gave God all the credit for her answered prayer and we have supported and encouraged and LOVED her for faith. And I have NO doubt that God knit our family together in His great plan.

    • Hi Robyn. It sounds like you were dedicated to working with adoption professionals whose values and beliefs coincide with yours. It is so important for all who are a part of an adoption to receive plenty of support.

      It says a lot about your daughter’s faith that she too prayed for a family. I do often wonder, in situations like these, when a child is old enough to remember their adoption, if they ever come to a point where they feel torn because they prayed for a new family, rather than the healing of their first family. Do you know if the orphanage taught them to pray in specific ways?

      Another thing to consider is whether she had maybe ALSO prayed for her first family (that they might come back if alive; if not, that another family member might come back). I am not an adoptee, but I have spoken to many adoptees who share that even while tucked into a happy new family with many years passed, they pray that their first family will somehow find them. They feel tremendously guilty about these thoughts, of course, because they love their adoptive family, and are often not forthright in discussing it.

      Can you explain what you mean by you “loved her for faith”? It sounds like you are saying you loved her because she shared your faith. If that is true, I would also caution you that such a message can further damage a child. It may make her question your love should she one day question or doubt her faith, or even choose another one,

    • Reply to Robyn Cunnigham: True orphans are blessed through adoption. It is a tragedy, however, that no next of kin is found or is willing to raise the child. But most adoptions do not involve true orphans. Most adoptions take place because vulnerable women who at the time of birth are lacking resources — either financially or emotionally — are being exploited. I have no doubt that adoptive parents truly love and bond with their children, but this comes at a huge price to the child (when he/she is not truly an orphan) and the child’s natural parents.

  5. As an adoptee raised in a loving home by wonderful, amazing, supportive parents who had the financial, emotional, and medical resources to help me cope with being adopted – I am amazed at the responses to the facebook posting and the blog when people disagree with your perspective, as they are largely missing the point. Yes, adoption is part of your story and your family’s story, and that may come from your calling and personal relationship with the lord, but PLEASE consider the fact that there are aspects to your adopted child’s identity you will never be able to relate to. This is simply what the article is asking you to consider – the perspective of your child and what they may be going through that you cannot possibly know or relate to.

    The majority of international adoptees face a significant identity crisis that does not ever resolve itself, while domestic adoptees face a similar feeling of not ever being able to fully relate to their family members in the same ways they observe in their friends’ biological families, no matter the love and support they are given. Telling a child, teenage, and/or adult that these feelings were “part of God’s plan” isn’t very helpful as the majority of us always feel like a piece of the puzzle is missing (and feel guilty about that in light of the fact that we have everything anyone could ever need or want from parents provided for us). You will never know what it feels like to never be surrounded by someone who looks like you, or inherently shares your dispositions via biology – and you will never know the guilt that many adoptees feel for thinking these things matter so much despite their wonderful families.

    Also, the narrative of adoptees coming from broken places is also harmful when you consider the fact that many children are adopted due to fertility issues in adoptive families. It is very hurtful to those mothers who suffered multiple miscarriages, failed fertility treatments, etc. to say that the adoptee came from a broken place, when many women have traumatic experiences that bring them to adopting in the first place.

    What my parents went through to adopt me, and what I imagine my biological mother went through to choose adoption, is harrowing and heroic. They may have made their choices due to their relationship with the lord, but I find it highly insulting when adoption is framed as the fact that SO many people had to suffer on my behalf in order for me to have a good life. I simply ask you all to please consider the fact that adoptees experience something that non-adpotees cannot ever understand or fully relate to and, as such, the way you tell them about their lives is significant and worthy of deliberation and consideration, as is the point of the OP’s perspective

    • For Gina, who posted on October 10, 2014: I appreciated reading your post so very much. All of the things you described are what my son has shared with me (he found me almost one year ago). The sad thing is: back in the day, the agency sold adoption to us young, vulnerable mothers — who were so eager to please our parents, our babies and society — as the ideal solution that would offer our babies perfect lives. All these years later, when my son told me he has been thinking of me constantly since he learned he was adopted and that he always felt a disconnect with his parents, I was blown away. Thinking of me? I had been made to feel so insignificant, so disposable. My eyes have been opened to the atrocity of adoption as a means to satisfy the yearnings of an infertile couple. Now I see the truth: Of course he was thinking of me. I am nothing less than his mother.

  6. Gina, thank you for your perspective. It is vitally important in a discussion such as this. And it is so important to convey that when an adoptee prays about, thinks about, yearns for their family of origin, is not a rejection of their adoptive family.

  7. I’m an adoptive parent to two (8.5 & almost 3). I believe in God, but I’m not religious. I don’t buy into a lot of the “God called us to adopt” and “meant to be” rhetoric. I appreciate your post from a pragmatist’s standpoint. *But* the thing about God is, He’s ineffable. No one really knows what He wants or means to do. We can just take our best guess. So, I can’t say that someone’s children are brought to them by God, but I also can’t say that they weren’t. I can only say that either way is possible.

    I also disagree that adoptees will necessarily feel the way you say they will feel. Some might, of course. But it really bothers me whenever anyone says, “If you do this, your child will feel that way.” No one can say that. Barring truly abusive or hateful actions, you can’t say how someone is going to feel about anything. I definitely think that parents should consider that their children might feel this way – absolutely. I just don’t deal well with, well, absolutes. The post comes across as, “If you do this, you will damage your child forever.” So, if you’ve gotten a lot of strong reactions from the religious crowd, I imagine that’s why.

    • Thanks, Robyn, for your thoughtful response. I re-read the post from the perspective of absolutes and realized that I did indeed use absolutes, but only when describing the effects of some of the God language regarding adoption on children. At first, I considered softening the language a bit, as I did in the sections on what a person could say. But I don’t think I can. I think those sections on how the language hurts children and other members of the adoption triad are pretty accurate.

      Some people would argue that no person experiences everything in the same way — and I agree. Others would say that they are adult adoptees and feel no pain about the way their parents attributed adoption to God’s plan. I affirm that, too.

      But there is a a very real difference between feeling no pain and suffering some damage. As a rather pithy example, I have Rheumatoid Arthritis and, after having moved to Southern California and more even weather, now have days when I do not feel pain. However, the disease continues to slowly — and I mean SLOWLY — do damage to my body. Therefore, even if I go long periods without pain, I still have to maintain treatment protocol to prevent the unseen damage.

      Comments about God orchestrating an adoption (and note that I do not include all discussions of God/adoption as damaging) act over time as micro-aggressors, slowly chipping away at a child’s sense of identity. Parents of faith clearly mean well and do not mean to hurt their child, but when a child hears repeatedly that God made some pretty unfair choices regarding their life, damage will be done — not necessarily the kind of damage that lands them in a therapy chair every week, but the kind that percolates within, upon which they cannot put their finger. Maybe it is self-hatred, perhaps survivor’s guilt (a very real and often unexplored component of adoption), some anger at God, causing a fractured relationship with God, resentment towards their parents, a lack of motivation because God is going to do what God is going to do no matter what they do, or a disdain for the culture that they have learned to believe could not sustain them. All of these struggles, no matter how covert, affect how a child sees himself and how he relates to the world around him.

      • As an adult adoptee I experienced being told many of the things you said parents can’t say and I did not experience a single one of the negatives that are so “absolute.” Maybe I’m just well adjusted, maybe because I was one of the lucky ones that had a closed adoption. I know closed isn’t cool anymore, but I feel satisfied with my experience and glad it was that way.

        • I’m glad your experience has been so positive. In my experience, this is rare. Because I have seen so many hurt by such language (again, not necessarily in overt ways), I feel as comfortable with the absolutes as a doctor who says that person X will not come out of a coma (because evidence shows that only 1 in a very many ever do in that situation).

          In a case such as this (or as the one with the doctor), it is best to consider the absolute — as hoping for the very rare outcome can set us up for disappointment and regret.

  8. I appreciate this perspective and the love that went into explaining it.

    I can’t help but think when I read things like this that we might be assuming God is smaller than He is? God could stop all the suffering in the world in a moment, adoption related and otherwise, but He doesn’t. That doesn’t mean that those who have less suffering are more favored by God, or that that suffering is meant to be, or that those who suffer do so in vain. It means that we don’t always understand our suffering, because we are viewing it all from the shortest perspective possible in the scope of eternity.

    Of course He wouldn’t give someone a brain tumor so that a medical student would have the chance to practice surgery, but is that to say He wouldn’t plant the seed in a student’s heart/mind to pursue medicine so that future patients might live? I don’t believe that puts the doctor in a position of appointed savior, just as I don’t believe an adoptive parent who feels they are called to adopt takes on a position of savior – but that doesn’t have to mean that God had no hand in it. We are here to do life with others, and will all have the opportunity to influence the lives around us for good (and bad) in the process.

    So glad that I found your blog through this article – I look forward to reading more!

    • Jessica, thanks for joining the discussion. I appreciate your contributions. I wrote this piece hoping that people of faith, all faiths, will thoughtfully consider how to bring God into the conversation in a way that enhances a child’s faith and contributes to a child’s sense of self. There are so many ways that one’s faith can move through an adoption without painting God as one who chooses some people over others and causes one to suffer so another might thrive. You have brought up some good ones.

  9. My mum and dad kept within the facts when telling us our stories (my siblings were adopted too (different bparents) and I think that matter of fact attitude has helped us to process any further information that we have received about our bparents. I’ve always thought of my bmother as an ordinary woman which of course is what she was. In my case, sadly my bmother died at a young age so I’ll never to meet her but I am reunited with my very nice extended bfamily and am getting to “know” her through photos and other people’s memories.

    I actually do think it is important how one talks about one’s adoption to one’s child. We know it is important for police not to “lead the witness” and thus I do think it is very important for aparents not to “lead the child” to feel a certain way which is why I think it is important to be careful how one discusses God in regards to one’s child’s adoption.

    Every adoptee is different and we all process our adoptions differently – I am one of 4 adoptees in my immediate family and I presume that we all have our own way of dealing with our adoption stories (to be honest, I don’t really know how my older siblings feel about their adoptions, on the other hand, I do know a little bit about how my younger brother feels). However, I do feel that our adoptive parents did do a good job of explaining and discussing our adoptions and by doing so, maximised the probability of us processing things in a thoughtful way. To me, the facts are important and I am very grateful that they didn’t try to make our adoptions to be something they weren’t. As a result, I think I now see everybody in my adoption story as being human beings.

    • Hi Cb,

      Thanks for commenting. I do love hearing from adult adoptees. Without your perspective, it would be impossible to presume what our children are feeling thinking. Even with the perspective of adult adoptees, it is complicated for us (I liken it to a woman trying to explain labor to a man; he might be able to then verbalize exactly how it feels and even comfort a woman through it, but he will never truly walk in her shoes.). The stories and wisdom of adult adoptees at least bring us closer to empathy and, I hope, will be the basis of much-needed adoption reform.

      “The facts are important and I am very grateful that they didn’t try to make our adoptions to be something they weren’t. As a result, I think I now see everybody in my adoption story as being human beings.” This quote is one that we adoptive parents need to remember every single day. Thank you.

  10. When I was very young, I remember reading Deuteronomy 23.2 and misinterpreting the verse to mean that I was never going to go to heaven due to being illegtimate so I went crying to mum. Very sensibly, she pointed out that it was a verse relevant to that biblical time. At the time, I remember that I expected her to say that being adopted has saved me from illegitimacy and that I had been redeemed by adoption. I might even have “wanted” her to say that because it would have “explained” why I needed to be adopted. As an adult though, I am thankful that she didn’t say anything like that because I probably would have got comfortable with that premise and it might have been hard for me as an adult to put that aside.

    One thing I know as an adult is that my own self image is not reliant on an adoption story. I don’t play the comparison game, I don’t play the “either/or” game. I don’t feel the need to put down or dismiiss my bparents in order to honour my aparents.

    • I love your self-awareness as a child. ANd I agree that we might really want to hear stories that explain our adoptions in a neat and tidy manner — but that doesn’t mean such an explanation is good for us.

    • And yet, not once in this heart-wrenching ad did it suggest ways that we are called to reverse any of the problems that cause the children to be institutionalized (I avoid using the term “orphaned”, as a good deal of the purported 150 million are not true orphans) in the first place. If we believe that God calls us to adopt, we must believe that God calls us to eliminate the need for adoption in the first place and then, when all other options have been exhausted, journeys with us through the heartbreak that is inherent in so many of the adoptions portrayed in the ad.

      Since the ad is presented from a Christian standpoint, it is important to recall how Jesus defined his own life’s calling: “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me,
      because he has anointed me
      to proclaim good news to the poor.
      He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives
      and recovering of sight to the blind,
      to set at liberty those who are oppressed ….” (Luke 4:18)

      His focus is not on rescuing the children to the detriment of their families of origin, their identity, or their culture, nor is it on rescuing the children to further the lineage of adoption (really, an awkward term when used in reference to the Bible, since what we call “adoption” was really more “a village raising its children” or simply standard protocol within tribes and communities).

      I believe in adoption. I have benefited from adoption. But I do not believe we are doing it right. And I certainly do not think it is helpful to attribute the ills that lead to adoption to God.

  11. Dear MommyMeansIt, Thank you for this essay. I resonate with many of your points. As an adoptive parent of a girl who came to us by way of foster at age 6, it was especially essential not to convey to her (as a subtext of things I said), that I am so happy her BM was unable to care for her so that WE as her “rightful” family could adopt her. I don’t feel that way at all! I remember during the waiting time…the not knowing time of whether she would go back to BM or be adopted with us… at times I had to stop myself from almost wishing against her BM! I thought, “What kind of monster would I be, if I wished her mom would lose her rights so that we can adopt?” Yikes. My perspective became, “We are here to help this beautiful child. We wish only God’s best for her. If that means leaving us to return to BM, however heartbreaking, we support that. Yet if she is meant to stay with us, awesome!!” As it turned out, she stayed. My perspective now? Ariana was born into a sinful world like the rest of us. One way that manifested in her life was, God’s original plan for her family was destroyed by sinful human choices. Yet God in His mercy had a plan for Ariana! He found a wonderful adoptive home for her. (Sidenote: I think many of the disagreeing respondees DO share common ground with you on the role of God in adoption, but there is a lot of “semantics” to this. As in my story above… NO it wasn’t God’s original plan for adoption, BUT He did create an adoption plan for my daughter once that became necessary for her)

    • I so appreciate this perspective, Brenda. I am sure that your process was heartbreaking for everyone at times. It sounds like you were able to lean on your faith throughout without painting a picture that dehumanized any member of your entire adoption family. It is possible for us to share God with our children without assigning God the role of side-chooser.

    • It still bears asking whether or not Ariana had other relatives who were willing and desirous of adopting her. Most foster children are not truly orphans. Their parents want them. If parents aren’t able to care for them, might grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins want them? I know of numerous cases where biological family is denied in favor of stranger adoptions because the latter are incentivized by federal funding.

  12. “Ariana was born into a sinful world like the rest of us. One way that manifested in her life was, God’s original plan for her family was destroyed by sinful human choices. ”

    My only question is, are the *only* “sinful human choices” the ones made by the birth families? Note that I am talking in adoption in general, i.e. I’m also including domestic infant adoption and international adoption. Some of the “sinful human choices” are made by adoption professionals.

    • cb: You make a smart point. It’s amazing how many people view the birth parents as the only sinners in the scenario. This is what they have to do in order to justify coercing them to give up their babies. Isn’t that a war tactic? To dehumanize the enemy; that way you don’t feel bad destroying them. They weren’t human, i.e. worthy, in the first place.

  13. Cb, I read her statement as more general than specific to the first family. I assumed she meant that the sins of all humanity create painful situations where some families cannot stay together — things like poverty, illness, narcissism (e.g. on the part of agencies, lawmakers, etc.). I think she means that the world surrounding the families is at fault, not necessarily the first family itself. Is that accurate, Brenda?

  14. That’s why I asked the question. I did get the general idea that she meant the situation surrounding the first families and not just the families themselves but too often the agencies themselves get given a pass. In fact, often some of less ethical agencies/attorneys/facilitators themselves say similar things which is why I tend to be a bit cynical.

    • I hear you, Cb. I appreciate you asking the question because it is important to clarify. We experienced tremendous abuses of power and money at the hands to 2 agencies with the mindset you mention. People are always shocked by that, but it is very real.

  15. Thank you for this! So much of what you say are ideas I’ve been processing for the last year, and yet, I haven’t processed half as clearly as you have. Thank you! I want so badly to love all of my children well and the “adoption was God’s plan for you,” thing has never sat well with me. Adoption is beautiful. And, it was never God’s first and perfect plan. Thank you!

    • Thanks for stopping by, Alex. I appreciate your feedback and am glad I could be a part of your processing. If it helps, I was processing this for like a decade before writing it. So you are really fast. 😉

  16. What an interesting topic! As an adoptee, I do have to personally disagree with some of this- I was fine with my parents feeling my adoption was a blessing and their thanking God for bringing me to them. I am also thankful. I am quite whole and have never been seen as a charity or needing saving. I think though that the important part is that I am PERSONALLY disagreeing- not disagreeing for all adoptees. I cannot speak for everyone. Every adoptee is different and their reactions to faith in their family, life and adoption will be led by those adoptees as individuals and within their own context and experiences. I think often times – out of only goodness and love- adoptive parents look too much into things and do not allow themselves to first be parents and not feel they need to add the “adoptive” to it.

    • Hi Madeline. Thanks for commenting. I so appreciate the perspective of adoptees.

      I am not sure that we are disagreeing. There is a big difference between saying that your adoption was a blessing to your parents and saying that God had planned the entire adoption. In the first, your parents are recognizing how special the adoption has been for them in particular. By calling it a “blessing”, they are acknowledging that it has been a blessing to THEM. In the latter example, parents are claiming that God wanted their child’s family of origin and the child himself to suffer so that they could have a child. I think most parents do not intend for this to be the message, but it can feel that way to the child.

      I so agree that every adoption is different.

      • Thank you for your comment. I have continued to read with interest the comments of others. I cannot help but wonder – is it wrong to feel that one belongs in the family they are actually IN? I never doubted that I was exactly where I was meant to be. Not every adoptee feels loss. Is it wrong to feel that God played a part in my getting to the mommy that raised me? We are not promised no pain or suffering in this life but we do live in an imperfect world. I found comfort, as a child, in feeling that God got me where I needed to be when my birth mother could not parent me. I think as with everything else, parents need to allow their child to guide them some in these respects. There are many voices in and about adoption but there is NONE that is as important as that of YOUR adoptee- YOUR child. Thank you again for spurning this thoughtful discussion.

        • Madeleine, in some ways, I do agree with you. For example, I do feel blessed and thankful that I was adopted by my particular parents – so in that way, it is not too dissimilar to when you say ” I found comfort, as a child, in feeling that God got me where I needed to be when my birth mother could not parent me.” – i.e. you are talking about God being in your adoption AFTER the fact. I personally don’t have a problem with that and I don’t think the OP does either.

          On the other hand, I don’t personally believe that God was so moved by my adoptive parents not being able to have children that he decided to use three pregnant women as vessels so that they could have their heart’s desire. I am pretty sure that my APs don’t believe that either :) Btw I am not saying that you are saying that – however, there are some people who do feel that about their adoptions (not just Christians by the way, non- religious people also feel similar but would probably use the words fate rather than God). I’ve seen plenty of blogs who seem to think of their children’s adoptions along those lines.

          My problem is that I’ve been online on mixed forums for a while now and there are those who feel that one’s feelings must be either/or, i.e. because I don’t feel that I was meant to be in the family I’m I from the beginning of time, then that must mean that I don’t love my family. I try to separate my afamily from my adoption and point out that, yes, I do love my afamily and I do feel blessed and thankful that they in particular adopted me BUT that I don’t feel that that means my bmother was just a vessel to get me to where I was *meant to be*.

          As I said in an earlier comment, I was thankful that my aparents didn’t always give me answers that would have made me rationalise things to suit me. I do allow myself to take comfort in some things to some extent but I do also allow myself to step out of my comfort zone when reality gets in the way.

          The truth is that my bfamily are not longer abstract but real, thus I can’t just dismiss them as if they are just vessels. My birthmother died a long time ago (aged under 40) and even though I’ll never know her, I just can’t find it in my heart to just dismiss her as a “stepping stone to my rightful family”. The fact that my bfamily are awesome and that my bmother sounds like she was a lovely kind lady actually makes things harder to dehumanise them.

          Anyway, that’s my own personal view. I think it is possible to be blessed and thankful for one’s adoptive parents without feeling that one was meant to be with them from the beginning of time.

          • CB- I really appreciate your response. It is so interesting to me the different vantage points and experiences we have as a group and what that means to how we feel and perceive the world around us. I do not think there is always just one right answer- sometimes I don’t think there is even one right answer (hope that makes sense). I would never presume to think I knew God’s intention in anything in life. I have never questioned “why”- I have been thankful for the love and family that my life has been touched by. I wish you all the best as you travel your journey. I appreciated your personal insights!

          • Btw I hope Madeleine doesn’t feel that I was directubg my complete post at her – it was only the initial part where I felt that there was a part where we could agree.

            I think the point is that whatever one tells one’s child or whatever one is told, one has to be careful that one is not providing an explanation that can’t be questioned. Comfort is good but I do know that some members of the adoption triad do use that comfort as a crutch and if it is questioned, they may not be happy to actually listen.

            A hypothetical example might be if an adoptee has been told and believed all their life that their bmother was a vessel to get them to their rightful parents. They decide to do a bit of research and they discover that their adoption was not quite “above board” and that their bmother was badly treated. Some adoptees might rethink the “vessel” thing – i.e. they may still feel blessed and thankful to be with their particular adoptive parents but acknowledge that what happened to their bmothers was “not on”. Other adoptees may refuse to move from the “vessel” thing and instead blame their bmothers, they may feel that what happened to their bmother was still “meant to be” and will try to rationalise that view by saying that it is all her fault, regardless of how badly the adoption professionals may have behaved. This can also happen with APs/PAPs – many have their own story of how things are for all bparents and refuse to acknowledge that some bparents may not have gotten a fair go. Note that I am not implying that my bmother didn’t get a “fair go” – I have no idea – I am just talking hypothetically about a possible scenario where some adoption stories may cause the adoptee/AP/birthparent to not think beyond the “story”.

  17. This is so true!!! I can’t count all the inspirational quotes I’ve seen along the lines of “God choose this child for me to adopt.” I’ve been waiting for somebody to say what you’ve said. Adoption is not God’s original plan for people, like refugee camps and hospitals are not God’s original plan for people (as helpful and necessary as those things are after emergencies occur).

    • Melissa, the refugee/hospital analogies are perfect for this discussion. Thank you. I think attributing to God the strength/joy a family receives after an adoption is very different than saying God planned the adoption itself.

  18. Thank you for these insights. The journey my son and his wife have been traveling in adopting their baby has caused me to look at adoption in a new light. Your suggestions make sense to me!

    • Thanks, ckfus. I wish your family all the best throughout this journey. Having supportive grandparents who are willing to do the hard work of educating themselves on all the issues is in itself a tremendous blessing.

  19. […] Attending a place of worship that singles out our children, either because they are the only people of color there or by turning them into mascots for diversity or adoption, can make our children feel unsafe, a feeling that should not be associate with worship. Likewise, if the place of worship we attend demonizes families of origin, our children’s cultures, or differences, they will not likely feel safe. Finally, we can damage our children’s identitity and sense of security if our place of worship regularly and publicly promotes a “white savior/adopt-to-save” mentality. […]

  20. Thank you for your take on “adoption” language… It is a very complicated thing. It’s made me think back to the way my parents explained my adoption (as an infant) to me growing up. I believe they were very fact-oriented to an age appropriate level… They told me a lot of how they’d prayed and waited, and that my birth mom had chosen their profile, which I always found comforting. They didn’t have much info about her, but the fact that she chosen them gave me comfort that she had made the most caring and motherly decision to give me up to be adopted by my parents. I’ve always had a gentle and caring feeling towards her because of this. Only at 18 did I find out she had been raped to conceive me, and that I had been her secret until she was 7 months along. I did meet her when I was 19 (and I do believe that Gods hand was intimately involved in making that happen), and we have a good relationship now…
    Now that I’m an adult, my husband (also adopted) and I recently adopted a group of 4 siblings, and I’m trying very hard to consider the way I phrase things concerning their situation… We do have some contact with their birth mom, and though its hard, I try to be as factual and positive about their situation as I can. All in all, I feel like God has taken several difficult and broken situations and used Adoption to bring about redemption, glory and grace! And that is his heart for all in our family, adoptive and biological. And for this world! I really appreciated the comment about how we have such a short sighted view compared to eternity, and yet looking back I can already see God’s intimate involvement has brought us together!

  21. Only just read this……..but at least you are raising questions and giving chance to talk about this idea that God planned adoption…….I as an adoptee and now a Christian belief…. have found it hard to bring adoption together as God planned this into my life……mainly because of all the grief, the sadness…..the listless I have felt inside of me….and in the world……..about my loss of heritage and culture and not knowing anything about who I am humanly……all the things many say about their adoptee status…….my choosing to follow the Christian Faith has not necessarily given me answers…..in fact more questions……but the person of Jesus….and his way of being makes a difference to me………I am thankful for the opportunity of being raised in a family unit, even though at times hard…….of learning what it’s like to have parents who have not given me back to the state and continued to love me thru my years…….but oh I wish I could have had Input from my own original family growing up………there are some things don’t seem to fit neatly into a plan……..but then I am not God……I don’t understand many things he says……but maybe I don’t have too……thankyou for writing this article……it means a lot to me. ….shefalie

  22. Very well said. I was adopted into an abusive, nonChristian home that nevertheless perpetuated the “rescuer” mentality with me. My adopter (my aunt) basically played God in taking me to live with her and I still struggle with how & why God allowed certain things to happen to me. I credit my “spiritual mom” (who I met when I was 13) for bringing me to faith and making sure I kept my eyes on God, regardless of what I’d been through.
    I think it’s dangerous to tell a child (or adult!) that they were “chosen” to be adopted. Since none of us actually chose to be adopted, that type of thinking leads us to believe that whatever happens to us is beyond our control, and there’s no point choosing anything for ourselves because somebody bigger, stronger, and/or more important can override those choices at every turn.
    Thanks for sharing this truth. I hope it convinces people to take the rescuer/savior mentality out of adoption.

  23. As a reunited adult adoptee, I was comforted to learn that the New Testament word for “Spirit of Adoption” could have been more literally translated “Spirit of sonship” when it speaks of us being made God’s children through salvation. It even uses the root word “sperma” in I John. I am thankful that there wasn’t the need for God to “adopt” me in the same sense I was adopted in the natural. He is my Creator and my Father, not my adoptive Father.
    Like Joseph said when he was reunited with his family, “What the enemy meant for evil, God turned for good.” God wasn’t the author of my adoption. He was saddened at the loss of my family. I am thankful that I can trust in a God who doesn’t orchestrate the same type of “adoption” that the world does.

    • Samantha: You are right. Although adoption in some cases (orphans) is a blessing for many, in most cases, it is orchestrated to satisfy the longings of infertile couples. For some to try to justify robbing a woman of her child by saying that it’s “God’s will,” well, those people need to open up their bibles! God does not condone worldly adoption. God’s plan is perfect as it is, and He chooses wombs, not baby brokers, to create families! I mentioned in an earlier post how important lineage is in the bible. In biblical times, babies born out of wedlock were not denied their heritage. (Hagar was recognized as Ishmael’s mother; no fake birth certificate was created listing Sarah as his mother. Ishmael was conceived sinfully, but still God loved him and blessed him.) So I have to laugh at the condemnation of natural mothers by adoption advocates!

  24. I wholeheartedly believed that God wanted me to be adopted. I’ve always had a sense that the sperm and egg-donor never wanted me, and I’ve carried that intuition with me throughout my whole life. Yes that’s exactly what I think of them sperm and egg donor they are nothing to me! They don’t deserve the title of parents at all. I consider God my creator, and my Parents are the wonderful, kind, caring, and loving people who raised me and brought me up into this world. Without them I wouldn’t be who I’ am today! Who says I need who brought me into this world to decide my identity? They DO NOT define who I’ am! I DO, along with God for he made me. What I would like to know is why does God give children to these pieces of crap who shouldn’t have them? While those who would make wonderful parents and who genuinely want children can’t have them? You can’t tell me that those children born to such pieces of crap should stay with them! That disgusts me. I consider this Mother natures cruel joke! I just can’t comprehend why this happens with so many children born? Why does God do that and very rarely give them to good parents? I consider myself blessed and I truly lucked out and went to a better family when I was born. But yet I’m still screwed up by being adopted even before I was born I was put up for adoption. The very people who brought you into this world never wanted you. That really does something to a person. So as a result I’ve never searched for them and I never will. I feel they have no right to know anything about me. They gave up those rights a long time ago when they signed those papers to be rid of me! I will gladly go to my grave not knowing anything about them. I can tell you I’m so grateful to God for my family (yes the ones who raised me) because I honestly believe that if I was never adopted than I would not be here today. I’m also grateful to God for the people who discovered DNA, because without it I wouldn’t have found out my ethnic origins. That’s the only thing I really wanted to know. If I decide that I want to know my genetic predispositions to certain diseases then I will obtain another DNA test for that. I strongly believe that DNA doesn’t make a family. Even though it was by no means perfect I had a good life and I have God to thank for that even if adoption was the means for that to happen. But believe me when I die I’m asking God why he had me come into the world this way. I believe in the possibility of reincarnation and I want to know what I did in my past life that was so screwed up that I deserved this?! Believe me if I could turn back time, and be reborn again to my parents who raised me I would do it in an instant, I’ve always wished throughout my whole life that they could have given birth to me. It’s always depressed me that they didn’t. But I’m happy to belong to them in every other way. The ways that matter. Also one of the big reasons I believe in God (I considered atheism once) is because I had to believe that someone namely a higher power cared enough about me to create me, as the ones who brought me into the world sure as hell didn’t. My life right now is great I pursued after many years my dream of being an author and I left a job that I absolutely loathed and I’m now working on a new chapter of my life. (No pun intended) As I have reiterated a few times I have my Parents, (the ones who raised me) to thank for that. I’m a homeowner, pet owner to a dog and snake, and I have a wonderful boyfriend whom I love more than life itself. I truly believe this was God’s will for my life.

  25. “I will gladly go to my grave not knowing anything about them.”

    So even though you know nothing about them, you have already assumed they are pieces of crap?

    One thing that finding my birthfamily did reassure me about is that my bmother wasn’t a “piece of crap”, she was a human being (and by all accounts a very nice human being). I am a typical 60s adoptee where there really wasn’t a lot of choice for single women without support – in fact, many were made to feel selfish if they did want to parent their child (I’m not saying that refers to either mine or your bparents (my bmother died young so I can’t really know what she was told)) but just pointing out that in many cases, a bmother “wanting or not wanting” their child was often irrelevant.

  26. CB, I was born in the 1980’s and the stigma against single mothers had pretty much faded by then, so if my egg donor wanted to keep me she could have done so. But no she was an alcoholic and a drug-abuser, and I was born premature, underweight and ill. Plus as I’ve said before I’ve always had a strong sense that I was never wanted before I was born, and my intuition has never been been wrong, and I strongly believe that’s why I was born premature because of that sense of not being wanted among other things. So yes I’m extremely grateful I was adopted, because I came from someone who should not have had a child in the first place, and only God knows why he brought me into the world this way.

    • Dear Patty, please know that in the 1980’s, at least the early 80’s which was my experience, the stigma was still alive and well. Unwed mothers were being tolerated more than in the past, and yes, a lot of young women were choosing to keep their babies, but the stigma was still there. Depending on the level of strictness and on the values and principles a young girl was raised with, this, I think, determined her level of vulnerability when faced with an unplanned pregnancy. I was one of those girls — so eager to be good, so vulnerable, so young and inexperienced with life, and so trusting of the adults around me who told me my child would suffer if I kept him. I was just a young college student with no criminal history or addiction issues; in fact, I was a good student and a very compassionate and kind young woman. But all the shame, guilt and pressure heaped upon me made me feel like the worst person in the world and that affected my feelings of adequacy in regards to motherhood. I wanted the best for my baby, and I was convinced that something other than me would be best for him. Please remember that there was another “solution” to an unwanted pregnancy back in the 1980’s; those of us who did not choose it chose a more difficult path out of love for our babies. In regards to your mother, she was ill, unfortunately. She was an addict who had no power over those addictions; it must have pained her very much that she could not stop when she was pregnant with you. But that does not mean that she did not love or want you; it just means that she was stuck in the snares of the terrible illness of addiction. When you think of your birth mom, please try to do that with some compassion, even if your adoptive parents have not modeled this when speaking of her. (No matter what, they should have never put her down when speaking to you about her.) She did her very best. Even if your best in that situation would have been much better, she did the very best she was capable of at the time. Once again, allowing for some compassion and allowing yourself to grieve the loss of the relationship you did not get to have with her can help take the sting out of all these feelings toward her. I wish you only the best.

  27. I’m so grateful an adoptive parent finally wrote an article on this subject. I–and many other adult adoptees–have been writing and speaking about it for quite some time, but of course, no one hears us. Only adoptive parent voices are heard in adoption. So. THANK YOU.

    Now that that’s out of the way, I’ll say that this trope has always confused me greatly.

    Do Christians believe that God screws up thousands upon thousands of the pregnancies he creates every year, mistakenly putting babies in the wrong women?

    Or do they just believe that they’re qualified and entitled to override God’s work and decide after the fact who was meant to be a parent and who was not?

    Mind you, I’ve always been in awe of the arrogance that allows adoptive parents to tie their very personal desires to “God’s will.” I mean, a couple breaks their necks trying to get pregnant for months, years, decades. They spend $30-50-100-200K on doctors, surgery, IVF, etc., with no result. To me, an emotionally healthy adult who truly respect her God would conclude that after all that–after being unable to reproduce no matter what she does or tries–that maybe parenthood isn’t part of God’s plan for her.

    But no! The fact that she can’t achieve parenthood could not POSSIBLY mean she’s not meant to be a parent! It CLEARLY means her God has decided she should parent SOMEONE ELSE’S CHILD.

    I’m sorry, that’s astounding to me. It’s toddler logic. I want it, so I’ll make up a story that allows me to justify getting it, and no one will notice how ridiculous and illogical my story is, right?

    Sorry. My beginning was not actually a mistake that needed to be corrected by a bunch of social workers. I was woven from the DNA of my natural mother and natural father. That contained thousands of years of ancestry, and it belongs to me just as much as to them. It belongs to my children–and their children and their children. They were–and are–my original family. They MATTER.

    No one grows in the wrong woman. How delusional does someone have to be to actually believe that?

    • Thanks, Renee, for reading and responding (and your kind words). It is truly a puzzle to me how people can assume that their needs are greater in God’s eyes than the needs of anyone else — in the case of adoption — than the children or the families of origin.

      I remember once hearing a Christian singer talk about a song she had written about a tragedy somewhere (don’t remember all the details). She said God had planned all of her success, right up to the Grammy. I was like, “Does she mean to say that God used a tragedy to bring her success? Or that God didn’t prevent a tragedy in order to bring her a Grammy? Or that God chose to get her a Grammy over getting the victims through their tragedy?

    • Renee, as a fellow adoptee, I just want thank you for stating this so eloquently. While it’s true that adoptee voices are largely ignored, dismissed, and shouted down; we need to keep speaking our truths. It is making g a difference.

  28. I very much disagree with this post as a Christian. God does not cause sin put his plan into place. He was not shocked by sin. You are saying God he is waiting to see what we are going to do and then just goes, whoa I better react to that! That is not a God I would serve nor would it be a saving God. But God is sovereign. He knows exactly what we will do and he plans for it. Only God knows why he saves some and not others but he is clearly not random.

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