I wrote this in response to a blogger who asked the following:
I need your help. If you’re a parent by birth or by adoption or both, I need your help based on your experience. If you know someone who’s a parent by birth or adoption, I need your help based on your observations.
What do you wish you’d known as you launched into parenting, whether by adoption or by birth?
What have you learned or are you experiencing that’s very different than what you’d expected, whether happy or hard?
What were you totally ignorant about at the beginning that you’re learning by experience?
What unexpected things have blessed you?
What unexpected things have blindsided you?
This is my answer:
I am married almost 27 yrs, and my husband and I have an adopted daughter who is almost 14. Something that completely blindsided me was when my daughter asked me why her birth mom kept her first daughter, but didn’t keep her. The question came out of the blue to me (maybe I was just naive or clueless!) one day a few years ago. Lizzie’s birth mom sent us a photo of herself posing with her firstborn daughter. It had been tucked away for a while, and Lizzie came across it one day when she and I were searching for some lost thing. She looked at it for a few minutes, so I asked her if she’d like to frame it and keep it in her room. That’s when the question came.
I always purposed that whenever Lizzie asked about her birth mom I would be sure not to take it personally, not to feel insecure, etc. I was blindsided by the ache in my heart that I felt for this child that I’ve loved since she was one day old. Mentally I understood that adopted children suffer the loss of identity, connection, etc. But until I heard her sweet voice ask that question, I didn’t realize the emotions that would overwhelm me. I thought that I might feel replaced if she wanted to keep a framed photo of her first mom in her room. How shallow!! I never expected the feelings of grief and sadness that I would feel when this child of my heart expressed her grief and loss.
I breathed a quick prayer for guidance and compassion. “She didn’t choose to give you up because of anything about you. She chose to sacrifice the joy and privilege of knowing you before she ever saw you, because she thought that would be what was best for you. She was young and single and overwhelmed by the responsibility of raising two beautiful girls on her own. We are so very grateful that she gave us such a treasure.” I showed her the pictures that were taken when we met Rose, her birth mom. That was also the day that she put Lizzie in our arms forever, just 24 hours after her birth. The pictures clearly showed our joy and her tears. Her sacrifice cost her dearly. She knew that she wasn’t choosing an easy path for herself, but a better life for her daughter.
I’m sure that didn’t fix her grief. I pray that God’s grace will fill in the gaps that my insufficiency leaves. I pray she will find her self worth in Christ, and never doubt it because of being “given away”.
Adoption is beautiful, but not without great cost. Look at what our adoption cost God.
Sorry, but I had to add one more thing:
My husband and I are both Caucasian, and Lizzie is African American and Mexican. Obviously, we don’t look alike! I didn’t realize what a wonderful blessing that would be. I have an easy way to make God look great! He did for me what He did for the barren woman in Psalm 113:9 “He gives the barren woman a home,
making her the joyous mother of children.
Praise the Lord!”
When someone asks me about our family, I say that even though my husband and I were physically unable to have children, we are parents! God did what was impossible for us to do for ourselves! That can lead into so many other discussions of His greatness!