Thursday, June 20, 2019

Brokenness in Adoption

So often we talk about the beauty in adoption. And I often use the hashtag #adoptionisbeautiful. I believe God's heart and the message of the Gospel is on display in adoption. I'm also convinced adoption is an incredible and brave choice that both a birth and adoptive family can step into when they believe it's the best option available for a child. But too often, we ONLY talk about the beauty in adoption and completely miss the other side of the story. And it's an important one.

Adoption always begins with brokenness. If things were as they should be, all parents would be able to raise their children. Families would always stay together and fathers would always be actively engaged. In a perfect world people wouldn't struggle with addiction, there wouldn't be interpersonal violence, and parents would always have the financial and emotional resources they need. Every pregnancy would be planned and every addition to the family eagerly anticipated.

Often the brokenness isn't just experienced by the birth family. I work with adoptive families who have lived through their own brokenness. Infertility, miscarriage, child loss....many families step into adoption because of their own loss. They want to grow their family but have been heartbreakingly unable to do so biologically. Stories of childhood cancer, secondary infertility, attempt after attempt at fertility treatments, miscarriage, and the death of a child are all results of a fallen world and brokenness for hopeful adoptive families as well.

We also live within a broken system. Too often, it's easier for a woman to obtain an abortion to deal with an unexpected pregnancy than it is to find practical support and assistance to parent her child. With differences in state laws and little federal oversight, there are people, even professionals who take advantage of everyone in the adoption triad for their own benefit. Racism and classism impacts adoption and ethical issues can be found in the domestic, foster care, and international adoption arenas.

And, perhaps most importantly, is the loss an adoptee experiences. Too often the child at the center of an adoption story and their brokenness is overlooked. They have lost their opportunity to be raised by their birth family. They have lost an important connection and issues like identity, belonging, and  abandonment are commonly wrestled through. The fact that many adoptive parents may not recognize these issues or be willing to have these conversations with their child can add to the loss and grief an adoptee experiences.

In the end, someone walks out of the hospital with empty arms and broken hearts. And that heartache doesn't just last for several weeks postpartum. The brokenness in adoption is a reality for everyone in the adoption triad for a lifetime.

So where does that leave us? It would be easy to throw our hands up in frustration and decide not to step into something so broken. We could ignore the mess that's inevitable in adoption. We could whitewash and try to cover it up; only talking about the "pretty" parts. But glossing over hard things in life is never the answer. Just like everything else in this world, sin has impacted the way things were intended and this side of Heaven we have to decide how to engage with it. 

How do we step into the brokenness of adoption with the hope of the Gospel, knowing God has the power to redeem and restore? Surely it's no easy task, but there are practical ways we can acknowledge the bittersweet of adoption.

We can tell the truth about adoption, sharing the good and the hard. We can work to ensure we don't gloss over the beauty that can be found in adoption and make less of the grief and loss that's involved. We can make space for adoptees (children and adults alike) to share the love they have for their adoptive and birth families and the complex emotions they uniquely wrestle with. We can ensure birth families are honored, cared for, and have resources for the long haul. And we can advocate for change; calling for ethics in adoption, holistic care for expectant and birth families, and work for biological families to stay together whenever possible. We can hold the celebration and the grief that comes with adoption as equally important and valid. Let's roll up our sleeves together because hard things, and especially the people involved, are worth it.

The reality is adoption is beautiful. And hard. And amazing. And broken. Like the rest of life, it's a complex mix of realities. Ultimately brokenness pushes us to a Healer. It gives us hope that one day God will fully restore all things. And until then, it provides a desperate dependance on His ability to guide us through the beautiful brokenness of it all.

Monday, June 3, 2019

Adoption Story: Jon and Beth

I remember talking to Beth for the first time. They had been told, several times over, that since they already had three children they didn't have much chance of an expectant family choosing them. I'm so thankful Jon and Beth didn't let some previous initial phone calls stop what God had called their family to. Today Beth shares their journey to their daughter; how God turned mourning into dancing, how the long wait turned out to be His perfect timing, and how tragedy turned into their biggest blessing...

God works in mysterious ways. I have always heard this phrase, but now it has its own special meaning for our family. About a year and a half after we had our third biological son we were ready to try for our last baby and complete our family. I had my annual check up and discussed our plan with my OB.  Just a couple days after that appointment I got a call from her that would turn our world upside down. She told me I had cervical cancer and soon thereafter I would learn it would require a radical hysterectomy to treat/cure; there would be no fourth baby. At least not biologically. My husband and I immediately started talking about adoption and I was surprised to know that he was as open to it as I was. We started talking to local agencies and honestly were hitting a lot of road blocks. Most told us that our odds of adopting wouldn't be great with three biological children.  We were devastated to hear that and thought maybe a fourth just wasn't in the cards for us. Then I heard about Christian Adoption Consultants and I reached out. Susan responded and let us know that we, of course, were candidates for adoption and that since birth parents come in all shapes and sizes you can't predict who will be chosen, when, or why.  And so our journey began.  

We presented and weren't chosen multiple times over a year and a half and we were getting ready to close the door in a few months as our contract with CAC would soon be expiring. Again, we thought maybe it just wasn't mean to be. Again, we were wrong. Just a week before Thanksgiving, we got the call that we were matched with a baby that would be born in Arizona in March. There would be a fourth baby after all! To say we were excited would be an understatement. But we were also terrified that we would have our hearts broken in the case of a failure at any point in time. We decided to take a trip out to Arizona at the end of January to meet the expectant parents. It was a great visit and we felt so good about everything after meeting them. We waited a couple more long months and then we received a call from the social worker that they were going to induce in a couple days. We hopped on a flight and we were blessed to be there for the delivery of our baby girl, Eloise Jaclyn. Everything could not have gone more perfectly. (Except the interstate paperwork which took what seemed like forever since we were missing our boys who were back at home so much!)  The birthparents chose to let us have Eloise in our room immediately after birth in the hospital, her birth mom signed as soon as she was legally able to, and before we knew it we were on the road back home.  

Eloise has been home for a couple months now and she is as adored by her big brothers today as she was on the first day they met her. I personally, haven't had a bad day since. I just can't get over the amazing gift we have been given. I truly believe God carefully chose Eloise's birth parents to bring her to us. I will never be able to repay them for the gift they have given us. We have kept in close contact and they are enjoying seeing Eloise grow through pictures and videos. I think most of all they are happy to see how loved she is and I hope that gives them peace of mind that they made the perfect choice for their daughter.  

The biggest tragedy in our lives to date turned into the BIGGEST blessing. I hope I can hold on to that faith as I face future hardships. 

Thank you, Christian Adoption Consultants, for giving us a chance. 
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