Sunday, March 23, 2014

True Life: I "Hate" Adoption

I was going through my drafts archive and I came across this piece that I wrote back in college about adoption. Since this month was the 7 year anniversary of Desmond's "official" adoption day, I wanted to share it with the world. It's a little piece that I like to call "I "Hate" Adoption." I never published it out of fear of embarrassing my baby brother or bringing shame to his story. But, as I read over it today, I realized that this post is a story of redemption and blessing, not shame. This is my life, this is my brother's story, this is my family's story. I ask that you respect that in any comments or judgements you may make.


Now, before you go unsubscribing and start calling me an awful person, please allow me to explain what I mean by the phrase "I hate adoption."

Let me start by telling you about this little boy that I love so much.

If you can't tell or haven't read my blog for that long- he's adopted. It's not a secret (I mean, he's not THAT stupid. His skin is kind of a different color.). My parents didn't hide the fact that he was adopted (probably because he was five when the adoption was finalized, but whatever). When I was in sixth grade, my parents started doing foster care. Right before I turned 12, this kid joined our family. He was nine months old. We thought that it would be temporary, but that's not how things worked out. Over the last ten years, we've learned a lot as a family. We've grown a lot. The "blessing of adoption" has definitely had some great impacts on my family (Hey- we have at least one cool family member now!). Our lives would be terribly boring if not for this kid. Sometimes I refer to him as my "paprika"- he adds spice to our lives. I love him so much, even when he's really annoying.

But, there's also a side to adoption that all to often, we don't highlight. My brother's case was a little different than your typical adoption. He has a birth mom that loves him, but was really young and unprepared when she gave birth to him. I joke around that we don't have an open adoption, we have a "the front door's wide open, so come on in" adoption. We are so blessed to have his birth mom be a part of our extended family. Is it perfect? Far from it. Is it always easy? Definitely not. It makes me laugh when I run into people from "that side of the family" when I'm out with friends. Yes, it might not be typical to see someone like me talking to a large black man. But, what's wrong with that? Why does society view that as "strange"? I love the fact that I have the opportunity to interact with people from diverse backgrounds. I think it helps me become a greater, more accepting person. Maybe it's not always easy to involve the "extended family", but, who are we to deny him his heritage, his birth mom?

Sure, his birth certificate has my parents listed under "Mother" and "Father". But, if you look at him, you can tell that that's in the legal/relational sense, not the blood sense. Why would we go around pretending like his birth family doesn't exist? There's this idea of "I deserve this child and she doesn't". Why do we think of ourselves as better than the birth family? They are not any less of a person. They are not any less a child of God. Even if they made a mistake along the way, there is no reason to think that you are any better than them. Romans 3:23 says that "all have fallen short of the glory of God." We've all messed up. Some people's sins are just more visible than others. Some people's sins have a greater impact here and now, but we will all have to stand before the throne of God someday and ALL of our sins will be made visible. From this point, I believe that the first goal of adoption should always be to avoid it. Adoption should be a "last resort" option. The birth family should be supported. Resources should be provided to try and keep the family together. Mentor the birth mom. Show her how to be a good parent. Teach her the skills that she needs to be able to succeed. Give her the chance to succeed, and believe in her. If you've gone through all of that and it's just not possible, then consider adoption. But, don't write the birth mom out. Give her an active role in the child's life, if possible. Don't just send her photographs and letters once a year (that's really not an open adoption). Allow her the chance to be involved in the child's life, as appropriate. Don't write her off as a failure as a parent. Don't write the birth family out of the child's life and pretend like they don't exist.

But, I feel like that's what we (as a culture) do a lot of the time. We view adoption as a fashion accessory. It's something that makes us "feel good" because we're helping someone out. But- that's the wrong reason for doing it. Adoption is not an accessory. Adoption is not an "obsession" or an "addiction". I feel sometimes like we are so obsessed over adoption. We treat it like a wonderful thing, but it is a horrible part of us living in a fallen world. With all my heart, I WISH that we did not have adoption. I wish that there were no orphans. I wish that we would spend the time and resources equipping birth parents so that they could parent their child. I wish that families could stay together. I know that sometimes parents make unwise choices that have consequences, but I HATE the fact that adoption has to exist. It breaks my heart. I wish that parents could stay involved in the life of their child. It breaks my heart when I hear about the state "taking someone's child away". It breaks my heart to hear that someone is "unfit to be a parent".

It breaks my heart when I see adoptive families that don't acknowledge the child's birth family or culture. It breaks my heart when I'm talking about open adoption and someone says "I could never do that". YES YOU COULD. You just choose not to. It might break your heart. It may stretch your faith. You might learn some new things and feel some new hurts. It might be painful. But, you could do it. It is possible to love a child like they are your own, even if they know that you are not their birth mom. You never know what kind of life this could lead you to. You could meet all sorts of new and wonderful and different people. You could learn so much about what heaven is going to look like someday- NEWS FLASH: NOT EVERYONE IN HEAVEN IS GOING TO LOOK JUST LIKE YOU. By embracing an adoptive child's family and culture, you will be able to show them the love of Jesus. You might be the only Christ that they see. "Front Door Wide Open" adoption is an amazing thing. It merges the old and the new together into some big, messy, amazing blob. I truly believe that if adoption has to exist, this way for it to happen. I know that some people might say things like "But, what if the birth family lives on 'that side' of town" or make excuses about safety. Safety-smaftety. The safest place to be is in the middle of God's will. Don't you think that God is just a little bit bigger than an uncomfortable position? One of my professors made the comment the other day in class that "Satan wants you to fear liability, because it holds you back from following Christ wholeheartedly." Is there a place for healthy boundaries? Yes. There are times when you may need to distance yourself (and the adopted child) from a person or situation. But, you can't let the fear of "what if" hold you back from allowing a child this opportunity. Open adoption allows a child to learn from their birth family- learn family history, cultural history, and the chance to learn life lessons from another person's successes and setbacks.

So, the big question- since I "hate" adoption so much, will I ever adopt? The answer is "I don't know". I have a heart for the broken. I desperately want to see children be able to have a family. I learned so much from this experience as a sibling of someone who was adopted, and I would love for my future children to be able to have that experience. But, I know the heartbreak involved (on all sides). If God leads me towards adoption, I will follow. That being said, if I adopt, I'd love to have an open adoption. I won't adopt as an "accessory" or "obsession". I won't adopt for selfish needs- to make myself feel like a "better person"- but rather to provide a loving home for a child to grow up in. Family reconciliation is the goal. Adoption is not supposed to be about "me" or "my family"- it's about loving God and loving people. It's hard. It's painful. But, it's worth it.

There's so many other issues that I wish I could address. I wish I could expand on my feelings about family preservation. I wish I could tell you about the issues and judgements that arise when you adopt a child of another race. I wish I could go into great detail about our journey. But this is not the time or place for that. If you have any questions, please feel free to email me at and I'd love to chat. But, keep in mind that protecting my baby brother (who's 12 now!) is at the forefront and I don't want to do anything that would violate his security or trust. Some things are not my story to tell- they are his story, when he is ready to share them. 

No comments:

Post a Comment