I have said it a million times and I’ll say it again, adoption is beautiful, but it is always built on loss. There’s no way around that. For a child to enter a family via adoption, they always have to first leave a family.
One of our sons was adopted at birth here in the US, and we have an open relationship with his birthmom. We have had an ongoing conversation with him about how he joined our family since he was born, and yet he still wonders why. He still asks me over and over again, “why didn’t she want me?” He’ll look at me with those big brown eyes as he’s nestled in my lap and wonder aloud if she loved him.
I assure him over and over again that he has been loved since his first breath by her, by us, and most importantly by God. I assure him that it’s okay to wonder these things, and it’s okay to feel these things. I want him to feel safe and loved and able to express thoughts and feelings that don’t even make sense to him as a nine year old.
You see my son is in a family that loves him dearly and it’s all he’s ever known and yet he still has experienced great loss. Jillian Lauren has a new book called EVERYTHING YOU EVER WANTED and early into the book there’s a line that almost took my breath away because it describes my son so well. She writes this about her son, whom her and her husband adopted from Ethiopia, “To be so unwanted and so wanted at the same time can carve a fault line in you.” This fault line is hard to follow. It’s hard to understand both the feelings of being unwanted and also being so wanted at one time. This is the line my son is trying to figure out, and I get to sit with him, hold his hand, and walk with him. Not truly understanding what he feels, but yet loving him, encouraging him, and allowing him the space to feel.
Most of us would think that the fact that our children are so wanted would erase the fact that at one time they were not wanted, but my friends it doesn’t. Adoption is hard. It’s complex and sometimes I think I’ll die and never understand all the layers to it.
What I do believe about adoption is that there is room for both sorrow and joy. I’m willing to allow my kids to experience both of these emotions in our family and be okay with it. Just because they have a family now doesn’t erase the sadness of what happened to them. The same is true of the joy. Just because there is sadness in the beginning of their story, doesn’t mean they can’t experience the joy of the family God has given them. We are opening our hands and holding space for both of these emotions.
I tell my kids all the time that God chose you for this family. Whether you joined this family through my own birth canal, or another woman birthed you and we adopted you, you were meant to be an Ivey. It might not erase some of the feelings, but it does give meaning to their lives.
Recently the Story Team at The Austin Stone released a story about a woman who placed her baby for adoption years ago and then is reunited with him and his parents for the first time. It’s a film that shows the joy and sorrow that adoption represents. Before this film was shown the lead storyteller, Steven, said, “In order to tell an honest story, we have to be courageous & willing enough to tell the dark side of our story. When we see these stories, and we see the honest side of it, and the darkness of it, and we juxtapose that with the glory of Jesus and his salvation, it makes his glory even more brighter. It makes our story even more beautiful. God knows the end of the story. Jesus is the grand resolution.”
And that is why Romans 8:28 holds so much meaning to me when I think about the hard road my kids have walked and will walk in their lives. “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good.” I believe with all of my heart that God is in the hard stuff, that he’s never taken by surprise when our children are placed for adoption. That he never wonders what went wrong with his plan. My comfort is in the fact that God has a plan for our children, and it just might involve sorrow and joy. And isn’t that just like God. To allow us to experience sorrow so that the joy is so much greater.
The darkness will not prevail, because the light is so much greater.