Adoption is a part of our family’s story as it is for millions of other families. As an adoption counselor once wisely told me:
Without God adoption makes no sense.
In this and future posts on adoption we will wrestle honestly and vulnerably with this truth. Thank you to my She Speaks 2015 prayer partner and now friend, Maura Byrnes, for leading the way with her thoughtful and beautiful post below.
Tomorrow is my daughter’s 10th birthday, and I cannot stop crying. No, it is not because my “baby” Natalie is growing up so quickly, although that fact does stab my heart.
I weep because every year around Natalie’s birthday I think, more than ever, of her Chinese birth parents. Although I never met Natalie’s birth mom, and no one knows who she is, I imagine her with stunning clarity. I see her long, silky, dark hair, like Natalie’s, pulled back tightly. Her eyes dart quickly from side to side when she is thinking hard about a problem, and they light up as she laughs or sings. Her delicate hands have long, slender fingers. Her father, too, I can see. He is also quiet and intelligent, quickly adding sums or multiplying double digits in his head like Natalie does.
Most of all, I imagine their grief. I picture them crying, regretting that they had abandoned their newborn daughter, and wondering how and where in the world she is. I have no problem picturing Natalie’s birth mom standing alone at a sink and watching the water run over her hands and wondering, “Do my girl’s hands resemble mine? What are her hands holding? Who are they holding, and who is holding my baby?”
I long to make things right and—nonsensically—want to divide this girl in half, so we can each have a part of her. I weep as I lament this broken, messed-up world where loving parents have to make the heart-wrenching decision to relinquish their baby, whatever the reasons. This is not the way God intended our lives to be.
Friends and acquaintances tell me I am blessed to have this child. I always agree and tell them I am more blessed than she. Inside, however, I pine that my greatest blessing is only because another mother’s heart is torn apart.
I long for heaven at these moments, where perfection and peace prevail and there are no broken relationships. In heaven there will be no marriages (Matthew 22:30, Mark 12:25), so I think it is fair to conclude there will also be no “my child,” “your child,” “birth mom” or “adoptive mom” scenarios. There only will be worship of our one true parent, our forever Father. I imagine children will run happily free from loving adult to loving adult, never knowing ambivalence, rejection or despair. Pastor and author Dan Vander Lugt writes:
All the joys of family love will be far surpassed in heaven by the joys of perfect intimacy and trust.
I am counting on this! While I wait for that day, I take steps to help assuage my own grief and to make a difference in this shattered world. Among the things I do:
- Participate in an adoptive parents support group. It is in this sacred space that I spill out my feelings and am met with empathy and wisdom from other adoptive parents.
- Ask God to reveal Himself to my daughter’s Chinese family. I ask Him to send Christians into their lives. I pray these believers will share the Gospel and the hope of eternity with them. I pray for her first family’s hearts to be softened and for them to accept Jesus as their Savior.
- Send monthly donations to World Vision, Wycliffe, Young Life, and Voice of the Martyrs. While there are countless charities to support, I chose these four Christian organizations because they work, respectively, to provide education and relief in desperate communities, translate the Bible into languages for which there are no Bibles in existence, introduce kids to Jesus and help them grow in their faith, and support Chinese families whose loved ones have been tortured, imprisoned, and murdered for their faith in Jesus.
- Meditate on the verse that every child is a gift from the Lord—not “mine,” “yours,” or “ours.” My child is the Lord’s. I am to train and raise her up in the fear and admonition of the Lord. I must remember each day she is His beloved child, and He loves her perfectly and infinitely more than I or any other parent ever could love her.
- Stay informed about what is happening in my daughter’s birth country. I tell Natalie that even though Chinese Christians are being persecuted, these brave women and men are not giving up their faith in Jesus. In fact, according to Purdue University Professor of Sociology Fenggang Yang, “China is poised to become the largest Christian nation in the world.” This is because persecution has caused Chinese Christians to unite like never before in their history.
Persecution is not some obscure or far-away issue. Some adoptive parents maltreat their children’s birth parents, wielding their words and attitudes as swords. Christ commands us to honor our parents, and although he didn’t specify it, I am quite certain He means all parents—birth, foster, and adoptive. As my daughter’s birthday recedes and a new holiday is before us, I pray her birth parents would supernaturally know they are esteemed in our home.
As I was writing this, I realized my silent and dreary imaginations of my daughter’s birth parents’ regret might be lies, possibly dishonoring them and most definitely stealing my joy.
So, to stop these ruminations I now meditate on Philippians 4:8:
Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.
I commit myself to focusing on what is true: God intended this child to be raised by my husband and me; He is sovereign in all our lives; Natalie’s birth parents must have many admirable qualities because they are apparent in this precious child, and I thank God for imparting these traits. In addition, I ask the Holy Spirit to empower me to have faith to believe that Natalie’s birth parents are peace-filled, and they would supernaturally know their daughter is not only alive but also joyfully alive in Christ. I also pray we will meet face-to-face in Heaven someday, where we will worship our Father together as one joyful nation.
One thought on “Honor Thy Birth Mother and Father: Reflections of an Adoptive Mother on Her Daughter’s Birthday”
This brought me to tears Nanette… So beautiful and thoughtful. I am thinking and praying for you and Natalie during this birthday month. Xoxo