Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Adoption = Loss + Complication

Recently I was talking to the kids about being thankful for each of them in my life, and in our family.  Matthew asked me if he was meant to be my child.  I answered yes.

Predictably, Seth then asked me the same question.  Was he meant to be my child?

What would you answer??

Many adoptive parents would, I believe, answer yes to this question.  A few years ago, I would unequivocally have answered yes, too.  I probably did say this to other families when I saw their child referral pictures and commented that the family's long wait was worth it and surely this child was meant for them.

My perspective has gradually become more complicated on this subject.

Yes, given the circumstances, I believe absolutely that Seth and Lizzie were meant to be our children.  They are my children and I have grown to be their mother just like I grew into being Matthew's mother.

But I also believe that God first intended Seth and Lizzie to be the children of their first parents; to say anything less would be to dishonour both the biological role that they played in their children's lives and the love-and-nurture role that they provided.

I don't think that God created my beloved Seth and Lizzie in order to bring them half-way across the world for Geoff and Matthew and me.  I think God intends and creates children to be with the parents that they were born to...after all, if I believe that He knit them together in their mother's womb, and if that womb wasn't mine, the intention must have been for them to be with their first mother and first father.

I say these things with great reluctance.  Because there are lots of children and adults out there who were born to horrible parents-who-shouldn't-have-been-parents and who carry the scars of their parents' failures through the entirety of their lives.  I say it grudgingly because I never want my children to think that they are any less wanted and needed and loved by their Dad and me because I believe they were originally intended for their first parents.  And I say it hesitantly because in believing this to be true, what does that say about my selfish prayers over all of those years as we longed for more children and waited for these two to complete our family unit?

And yet here they are, my beautiful, brown-skinned children who came halfway around the world to bring to our lives so much joy amidst all of the complications.

I see how well they fit into our family, I know how much we love and need them, and I question my own conclusions.

Adoption exists because there are so many wrongs and disparities in the world.  That's what I believe, even having benefited from these things.  It is out of this disparity that our children's first father was put into an impossible position where he simply had no other options.  The terrible situation that they found themselves in became our great blessing, without a doubt, but that does not mean that I believe it was supposed to be this way.

As prospective adoptive parents, we prayed for years for the child(ren) we would bring home.  We loved them before we ever laid eyes on their faces, just as I loved Matthew while he was in utero.  Sometimes now I wonder if it was wrong to pray for those children we wanted so desperately because in order for our prayers to be answered we had to know that there would be unimaginable pain.  Now that we know those children, know their first father, and now that their faces are real to us, I have a hard time reconciling my longing prayers of old with the pain I know them all to have endured.  I wouldn't wish that pain on anyone.

And yet here they are.

The cost...the cost of our blessing...it's just so huge.  Just like the children of the mother killed in the car accident will always long for their mother; just like no one will ever be able to replace her; just like they will have to deal with the hole left in their hearts as a result of her death; just like they will always wonder what if; so, too, will our children....  And of course, Seth and Lizzie lost even more, if such a thing is possible:  They lost their father, too; they lost their country and their language and their culture and their friends and their everything.

And yet here they are, despite having lost it all.

Sometimes it seems as if we, as if I, can never be enough to fill the void.  Well, let me rephrase:  We will never be able to fill the void in Seth's and Lizzie's lives.  In the end, just as I hope those other two little ones find their path without their first mother's guidance, so too I pray that somehow my children will find healing and wholeness in the loss of their firsts.

What did I answer when Seth asked me whether he was meant to be my child?

I pulled him in close and I said, "Seth, I believe that God knew exactly what He was doing when you were born to your first parents and He knew that they would love you with their whole hearts.  Your first father loved you so terribly much, in fact, that he knew that the best way to care for you was to allow another family to love you and take care of you when he couldn't.  It's then that I knew you were meant also for our family, for me."

It is so much more complicated than people realize, the joining of our lives with these intricately woven little beings born of another.  Far more than I ever would have guessed, both in the nuances as well as in the scheme of things.  So, so complex.

And yet here they are, my beloved children.


  1. Thanks for this post, Ruth... A

  2. SO true! I've had many similar thoughts! (You just have such a way with words). :-)

  3. Thank you, Sharon, Andrea, and Karen...means a lot.