The grand plan of adoption

The Girl wandered in my room last night wrapped in her comforter and climbed into bed, where I was channel surfing for some evening entertainment. She took the remote and found America’s Funniest Videos, one of our favorites (in spite of the fact that we've seen them all before), and settled in.

I don’t know how I’m going to stand it when she’s gone.

The Girl’s habit of joining us in our bedroom started when she was very small. Where The Boy reset his bio-clock easily and fell into a comfortable schedule, The Girl fought it every step of the way. It took creativity and ingenuity to stay a step ahead of her, because every time we thought she had finally gotten her sleeplessness under control, something new would disrupt it again. She’s also one of those folks who functions at a high level with less sleep than others. The net of it is that The Girl’s nighttime escapades became a part of our everyday life, including her crawling into our bed or dragging me into hers.

Now that she’s older and her sleep patterns are under control, she still loves to spend time in our bedroom, watching TV, talking, doing her nails, and such. For a mother and daughter, moments like these are incredibly intimate, perhaps made more so by how ordinary they are. They are the times I know I’ll miss the most when she takes her next life-step and leaves for college. I told her that last night, and she smiled and said she knew. I took that to mean she understands how important these evenings have been for me. I think they have been for her, too.

Being with the kids like this always bring my children’s separations from their first mothers into clear focus. I don’t think I’m different from any other mother in sensing the poignancy of such moments. They are precious, the kind of deep-down-in-you-heart precious that you take forward through your life to sustain you through the hard times. The Boy’s mother, The Girl’s mother may have shared such moments with children they’ve had since they gave birth to them, but they’ve never spent them with The Boy and The Girl.

I wish they could have. I wish The Boy’s mother and The Girl’s mothers could have some quiet evenings filled with TV shows and chatter with them. Every time The Girl drags her covers into my room, I am reminded of the tremendous responsibility I have to honor these women who gave my children life, and to encourage The Boy and The Girl to bring them into their lives.

It's also why, when I see things like this:

We believe that God is in control of our agency and your adoption
or this, paraphrased from the original from a prospective adoptive parent blog I stumbled upon recently:

We are thrilled for this new mission God decided for us

I cringe.

Please understand: I’m not saying here that God’s presence can’t be found in the experience of adoption. It can, but not in the typical place, the love we adoptive parents feel for our children. I think God’s presence in adoption is in the question Why? and all those that follow when you ask it.

Why did this adoption happen?
Was it the only possibility for my children’s mothers?
Could I have done anything to prevent their separation?
Can I do anything to prevent other separations in the future?

Of course, when you start asking these questions, you end up at that point of hypocrisy at which you have to question your own happiness, which is why I think many adoptive parents won’t go there. It's easier to believe that adoption is a part of the celestial plan, particularly when you can find a few passages in scripture that use the very word. Those of us who suggest otherwise are often perceived as attackers, which causes the "attacked" to close ranks. The result is what we often see in the adoption community: we all talk to others who share our beliefs, and nothing changes.

If you believe, deep in your heart, that the adoption of your children was God's plan, consider this:

Imagine the women and men who gave your children life waking each and every day of their lives with the image of their newborn baby in their minds, along with the grief and numbness that must surely accompany it. Don't just let the thought flit through your mind: sit with it awhile, imagine an entire day in the life of a woman or man who lives with this loss. Then imagine a lifetime of such days.

If you're having a hard time with this, hold your child in your arms and think of what it would be like for him or her to suddenly be gone, just like that. Think of what it would be like to wonder where he or she is, day after week after month after year. You remember the little body in your arms, maybe you have a photo or two, but you have absolutely no idea where he or she might be.

Now imagine that you weren’t born to the parents who raised you. Imagine that you want to know who gave you life: their names, their background, and their talents. But someone who apparently knows you and them better than you know yourselves has decided that, by the sheer accident of your birth, being told that you don’t have the right. Everyone else gets to know who they are, but you don’t. Imagine waking up every day wanting this simple information, and being told that you don’t have the right. Imagine a life consumed by the search for the simple facts that everyone else takes for granted, and by guilt for even wanting to know.

I don’t believe that God ordains any human being to experience this kind of pain.

I do believe that God is watching our response to it.

Edited to add, with thanks to Dawn, this. It is a must-read, an incredible example of how we turn adoption into anything we want it to be (in this case the convenient alternative to abortion), all the while ignoring the reality of what it is.


Laurel said… put my thoughts, as of lately, into words. I wish that ALL adoptive parents had your perspective when it came to their adopted children.

It would make life so much more simple.
suz said…
Scuse the typos!
suz said…
Putting aside the fact that I like you as a person, THIS post supports why I am honored to present with you at AAC.

Awesome post Maw-Gee.

Of course your realize the first part of your post sent me to tears for as you note, I will never get that experience with my daughter. As you further note, so succinctly, I life with that trauma and pain every day of my life.

Thank you for the validation.
Mirjam said…
Right on target. Thanks.

BTW: did you read this?

I commented there. And yep: I'm still bald.
malinda said…
We "credit" God with adoptions in ways we simply wouldn't tolerate in another context. Imagine someone telling a widow, "God [fate, karma, etc.] intended your husband to die and for your children to lose their father so that you could meet this NEW man and marry him, and so he can father these children now." I think the widow and her children would have every reason to punch that someone in the face. But tell an adoptee that, and they're supposed to be overwhelmed by the love of God?! I don't think so.
Juliette said…
Beautiful post! Very good. Thank you. Would you mind if I linked to it?

My wake up to the reality of adoption has been tough and I know I am the one who didn't lose anything in this story.

My little M is not yet ready to go to college but I try to live every moment with her as a special one, because I feel I have to, because I feel her first Mom would want me to.
Leah said…
Thanks! We are struggling with finding Noah's birth family now but he is not 13 (why this age and why the wait??). Hopefully, more will read and believe ...
Mei-Ling said…
"I think the widow and her children would have every reason to punch that someone in the face."

Margie said…
Thanks, everyone. It's good to know I'm not the only one thinking this way - but so, so frustrating to feel that the greater part of the adoption community sees this experience as fate.

GBJ, thanks for the tip, I hadn't seen that.

Juliette, feel free to link, and thanks very much.

Malinda - that analogy is PERFECT, I'm going to remember that one!!!
DBsmom said…
I think that most fear thinking of this becuase of the fear of loss. I'm not excusing it, but I think I understand the fear. Unfortunately, no one ever tells us (the adoptive parents)that the common denominator in this triad is loss and love. It is usually just romanticized. It is a hard place to be - but thanks so much for this beautiful post on all of these levels.
Lavonne said…
Thanks for this post. My sentiments exactly. I'm surrounded by adoptive parents who believe in fate and adoption (it was meant to be, it was God's plan, etc) and I find it extremely irritating.

As a prospective adoptive parent I find it extremely difficult to reconcile in my head what I am waiting for another person to do so I can have a family. This is hard stuff, but thanks for facing it head on and encouraging the rest of us to do the same.
Anonymous said…
Thank you so much for this post, Margie. I have a million comments buzzing around in my head but no time to put them into words. I will say this: I am just now "getting it" -- the true meaning and costs of adoption -- in time for my second go-round. I have found it easier to swallow by trolling the photolistings of "waiting children."

Also, even if you believe that every little thing, good or bad, that happens is part of a divine plan (which I actually do), it is incredibly insensitive to TELL that to people who are hurting in any way because it sounds like God wanted them to hurt. I would imagine it is much more constructive when explaining adoption to your children to provide HUMAN reasons, not divine ones. ~bets~
Cavatica said…
I don't believe in grand plans of any kind, much less my daughter's adoption. I do get irritated when I hear people speak of adoption this way or more specifically of our family this way. I don't like how it will sound to BB, yet it is so pervasive, I know it will be part of her world. Somehow I need to honor her and our family without glorifying adoption. It doesn't seem like it should be hard, but I sense it may be.
Anonymous said…
Wow... this has given me much to think about. I personally have never believed that God wanted us to experience pain, loss, grief for the sake of just experiencing it. And I have not personally lost a child of mine through relinquishment/adoption or death. I have lost a niece who was just 14 months old, whom I loved greatly, and wonder daily what she would be doing and how she would look, talk, act, like at 2 yrs., 8 months, if she were still alive. I look at my daughter and realize she has already lived more life than her cousin ever will. The ache is always there, at every milestone, family gathering, and celebration. I am sure that for many birth parents they live with great pain and loss daily.

I do have to say, though, that I believe that God can redeem any situation, and for our family, after years of grief and dead ends, adopting our daughter was a chance for my husband and I to have a family, to be parents, to have our own child to love.

I think of her birth parents often. As years pass I can only imagine the desire to know more about her beginnings will increase for all of us. I am heartbroken for their loss even as I am so very grateful for the blessing of my daughter.

Thanks for an honest and thought-provoking post. I found this through Tonggu Momma's links.

Alyson and Ford said…
I do expect that my daughter will want to find her first parents and her second Mom; I am number three for her also. I would want to know, so we will help her in all possible ways. The frustration of it all and any emptiness in her heart will need wisdom I don't have..... We love her and will do our best.
Thanks for the insight.

Alyzabeth's Mommy for One Year

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