Tag Archives: adoption

Adopted by God

Scripture for this sermon can be found here.

 

Once there were two women who never knew each other.
One you do not remember, the other you call mother.
Two different lives, shaped to make your one…
One became your guiding star, the other became your sun.
The first gave you life and the second taught you to live it.
The first gave you a need for love, and the second was there to give it.
One gave you a nationality, the other gave you a name.
One gave you a seed of talent, the other gave you an aim.
One gave you emotions, the other calmed your fears.
One saw your first sweet smile, the other dried your tears.
One gave you up … that’s all she could do.
The other prayed for a child and God led her straight to you.
And now you ask me, through your tears, 
the age old question of the years…
Heredity or environment, which are you the product of?
Neither, my darling … neither.
Just two different kinds of love.

-Anonymous

 

This poem, called Legacy of an Adopted Child, hung on my bedroom wall as I grew up. It still makes me misty. For I am an adopted child.

 

My birthmother was already a single mother working minimum wage in a small town in Ohio. She wanted to keep me. She loved me, sang to me, prayed with and for me, nourished me, talked to me… She birthed me and then, in the ultimate act of love, she let me go to a family she knew would love me and provide for a good life because she didn’t feel as though she could provide for me in the way she would like to given her current life situation. She loved me so much, she gave me away.

 

My parents so desparately wanted children. They tried every fertility treatment available to them in the late 70’s. Nothing worked. They signed up with Lutheran Social Services of Ohio and went through a few huge letdowns before they got the call about me. When I was born, they rushed around to prepare – painted my room, went out and bought all the wrong baby things because they had no time to really think about what kind of high chair was right for me. My Godmother and Godfather who already had three of their own stepped in to help them prepare.

When I was three weeks old, my parents came to pick me up. As my father told the story, I was hanging from the judges bench by my diaper, ready to be plucked off and taken home. My mother says that was the longest drive from Colombus to Cleveland ever – my dad wouldn’t go above the minumum highway speed.

From the moment I was put in their arms, my parents loved me as their own flesh and blood and then some. I was both miracle and gift. Through the power of love manifest in adoption, I was. I am theirs fully and completely. But I am also my birthmothers child. She loved me through my gestation and then gave me away. My parents and I love to play the nature vs. nurture game. I have my birthmother’s mouth and cheeks, my birth fathers hair color, my father’s sense of humor and my mother’s frankness. I am the child of all of them.

I don’t remember being told I was adopted. I was so young when my parents told me that it seems like I have always known.

What I remember most, what I know the most, however, is love.

I know not every adoption story is as pretty as mine. Some are tragic, some are trying. I know not every person who wants to carry a child to term in order to give him or her life is able to. I know I am incredibly blessed.

Why am I telling you this?

Because, in one way or another, this is our story. Your story and my story.

This is God’s story.

God is both the birthparent and the adoptive parent. God gave Christ to the world – knew him, loved him, cared for him – then gave him up knowing that he would be rejected. God gave Christ to us for our own sake, for our good, out of God’s love.

In doing so, God adopted us – the unclean, the broken, the outsiders, those who were not a part of the chosen people of God, Israel – into the family. God gave up Christ and drew us in.

I have known many people in my life who struggle with not being good enough. I have known people who have not felt right walking into a church or taking communion because they didn’t feel worthy of God’s love. My heart grieves for anyone who feels this way; for anyone who has ever been taught that they are not good enough for God’s love — because there is no earning God’s love. There is no being good enough because it’s just not possible. We all fall short, we all mess up, we can all be selfish jerks sometimes. God loves us anyway. We are still a part of the family.

That’s the thing about adoption – it’s not earned. Generally there aren’t tryouts – particularly not in the case of God’s adoption of us. You are automatically precious in God’s sight. You are a beloved child of God.

God sent Jesus to us to help us see this, to help us see how we are all related. God sent Jesus to us to take down the boundaries that had been built up over time by well meaning priests and scribes. In an attempt to help people follow God more closely, people became separated from God and from one another. The unclean were sent packing – there were lots of ways to be out but few ways to be in.

Many of our human families function in a similar fashion – some of us have relatives who we can no longer bear to talk to because of the hurt they have caused, for our own good we cut them off. Some of us have family members who we cut off because we can no longer bear to watch them hurt themselves. Some of us have been the ones cut off, placed on the outside, often for transgressions we don’t know we did or we don’t understand. Some families have no room for the different, the broken or those who have hurt us too many times for them to be let back in again. Often the story of family has a few tales of pain.

But not in God’s family. God will never cut us off. We can walk away, we can hide, but God will always greet us with open arms, will always call us to him no matter how far we have wandered. As many times as we let God down, as many times as we go against God’s will and do things that hurt ourselves, others, creation and God herself – we will always be welcomed back with open arms, always gathered back up into him.

This is not just the way God deals with me or the way God deals with you, this is the way God deals with us. All of us. Our inheritance is the same. Our inheritance is the kingdom. We all get it.

In our contentious world, it is hard to remember that we are all adopted children of God. We have all been brought into God’s family. And, unlike in our families, there are no favorites, no black sheep. Or, maybe it would be better to say we are all favorites and we are all black sheep. Simultaneously saint and sinner. Loved beyond measure. A wanted child. Each of us. Doubly loved.

Welcome to the world of adoption. It is a wonderful place.

 

 

 

 


An adopted child

I am an adopted child.

The first picture of me, in the little box my parents had me in for the drive. No car seats, just a little padded box, strapped to the seats of my dad's Buick with seat belts.

The first picture of me, in the little box my parents had me in for the drive. No car seats, just a little padded box, strapped to the seats of my dad’s Buick with seat belts.

The story goes like this: My parents really wanted a child. They had tried everything biologically possible and there was still no baby. They worked with Lutheran Social Services of Ohio to find a baby. They were excellent candidates — educated, loving, gainfully-employed (and, per my birthmother’s requirement, Lutheran). They waited. And waited. And were let down a few times. Still they waited. My dad (not much of a church goer) promised God that if they got a baby, he would dedicate his life to the church.

My birthmother was divorced with primary custody of an 8-year-old son. She was working at a minimum wage job. I don’t know much about her relationship with the other half of my genetic material, but the story is that when she told him she was pregnant, he ran. Some of her family wanted her to have an abortion, some wanted her to keep me as a punishment. She wanted to keep me and went back and forth about whether she would keep me or give me up. She prayed and went to church and sang in the church choir, hoping the right choice would become clear. Finally, her brother came to her and was blunt: There was not way she could keep me. She just couldn’t afford the time or money to have kid #2. She would put me up for adoption.

I was born with jaundice, so I stayed in the hospital for a few days and then was taken to live with a foster family.

My parents got the call that there was a baby for them a week after I was born (mom, correct me on this if I am wrong). They had two weeks to pull together all of the things most parents have months to get together.

My mom and dad came to pick me up. When I would ask them to tell me the story, my dad liked to tell me that they went to court and I was nailed to the judges bench by my diaper. When all was signed and the judged cleared them to be my parents, they got to unhook me from the bench and take me home (he also claims he wanted to name me Hortense Boom-Boom, I’m glad my mom prevailed).

They arrived at a friends house to stop for the night with me in tow. My mom’s friend had to teach her how to give me a bath and took her shopping because, apparently, everything my mom bought was wrong. It took my dad twice as long to get from where they stayed to their home because he was so nervous driving with me in the car.

I was raised in an amazing family. I have had every opportunity I could imagine, been able to explore both myself and the world. I have been well loved, raised in the church (per my birth mother’s instructions). I am smart, confident, funny and generally awesome 😉

I write this because in all the yelling about abortion, there is not enough conversation about adoption — but there are still many, many misconceptions.

  • Adopted kids aren’t messed up, there isn’t something wrong with us because we are adopted. I hate this assumption. Yes, some adopted kids come with problems. So do some bio-kids. Some of my brothers and sisters in adoption were subject to horrible abuse before they were born. Some of us are born addicted to drugs, many born affected by alcohol. But many of us are not. Many of us had birth parents who took seriously the responsibility of giving us the best life possible, and had the education and support to care for themselves and their fetus. This meant caring for us deeply in utero and then giving us to someone who would be more equipped to raise us.
  • Being adopted doesn’t mean I wasn’t wanted. It means I was doubly wanted, doubly loved. My birthmother could have had an abortion. She didn’t. She kept me, carried me, cared for me until it was time to pass me on. I cannot imagine how difficult this was for her, to give away her child. I am forever grateful that she carried me to term, that she cared for me that whole time, and that she gave me up when and how she did. My parents carried me in their heart, waited for me day after day, never knowing if I would arrive at all. Then, there I was, with my little tuft of black hair and penchant for sleep. My dad followed through on his promise to God, becoming incredibly active in church. They raised me incredibly well. I wanted for nothing. I was doubly loved, doubly wanted.

Not every kids adoption story is so rosy. Some kids are neglected or abandoned. Some kids who are put up for adoption have been abused. But for so many of us, the story is much brighter than that. And you should never, ever assume otherwise when talking to an adoptee. If we want you to know the situation of our adoption, we’ll tell you.

Today, birthparents have some amazing options for giving away their baby. They can meet prospective adoptive parents, they can keep contact with their biological child (if they wish). Birthparents have so many things they can do to ensure your kid goes to an awesome home.

  • No baby should be a punishment. No pregnant woman should ever be encouraged/forced to keep a kid she doesn’t want and/or doesn’t have the ability to care for. I am amazed at how many people will talk about life being a beautiful gift and then talk about keeping babies as punishment. I know a few kids who were kept under this mentality. And they grew up knowing they weren’t wanted, which messed them up a whole lot more than adoption would have. Not everyone has the magic loving parent button that switches on when the baby comes out. Some people aren’t ready to be parents, some people will never be ready. Let everyone make that decision for themselves.
  • Do not assume that because I am adopted I am pro-life. Some adoptees may be. I’m not. My mother had a choice. I’m glad she made the one she did. I would prefer it if more women would choose adoption rather than have an abortion. But I don’t know other people’s situations or what anyone else can handle. However, the adoption community needs to get more vocal about how awesome adoption is and what a wonderful gift it is to this world. Keep it or abort it are not the only options.
  • Don’t keep adoption a secret from the adoptee. If you adopt a child, tell the kid he or she is adopted. Don’t make it a secret. I once worked with a kid whose parents waited until he was 12 and they were getting divorced to tell him he was adopted. That’s messed up. My parents were told to tell me as soon as I could read. My main reaction was, “They won’t come back to take me away, will they?” Three-year-old kids don’t have identity crises, but older kids and adults sure do.
  • Adoptees, if you meet a birthparent, remember that their feelings are involved here too. I met my birthmother and got so excited about meeting her that I told some people. I have no idea how common it is for birth parents and adoptees to have people in common, but we did. She hadn’t told anyone about her pregnancy and subsequent adoption and then I went and told people. Now her secret was out. It wasn’t my place to share her information, but I didn’t even think about that when I was so excited to share my news. There will be things birthparents are sensitive about, things they don’t want to talk about or don’t want talked about. Remember that.
  • Finally, don’t use the phrase “real parents.” Ever. It’s nonsensical. Both sets of parents are actual human beings, both cared for me in their own way (well, in my case, my birth father, not so much). I call the people whose genetic material I carry my birth parents and I call the two amazing people that raised me my parents. Some others may do it differently. But real parents? Please. Just don’t.

Adoption is awesome. I’m proud of being adopted. I think it makes me extra special. I hope, over time, the world sees adoption (and all involved in the process) that way too.