Why I Hesitate

"What do you think about adoption?"

I started getting this question when I was in college.  It made sense; I was getting to the age that I had friends thinking about starting their own families, and anyone who knew my family (at all) knew that I had plenty of experience with adoptions.

What?  You don't think that we get mistaken for each other all the time?

I love my siblings way more than I have words to say.  Sometimes when I think about them I'm overcome with the thought that they could have so easily not been my siblings.  That I could have not known them.  (Which, I guess, is true of any human, more or less, but you catch my drift.)  They are such an integral part of me that I'm really not sure who I'd be like without them.  We really are our own tiny subculture, complete with one word jokes that can lead to minutes of laughter.  (Souffle?)

But I hesitate when I get questioned what I think about adoption.

Because there isn't an easy answer.

There is always a but involved.

It's wonderful.

I love adoption.

I think adoption shows the heart of God.  I believe it teaches us how to better understand God's love for us and is obedient to His will that we care for those who can't take care of themselves.



The thing any decision that you make is that you don't know what consequences will come of it.  Adoption has wonderful consequences.

It can also have effects that will hurt and hurt for years to come.

You don't know.

In some ways, it's the same as any other decision for a Christian.  You should seek to obey God, knowing that it will likely be difficult, knowing that He is going to use your obedience for His glory and your eternal good.

When people ask me about adoption, I want to tell them to count the cost.  There's a financial cost, the sacrificial costs that come with parenting, but there are other possible costs that don't get talked about a lot, maybe because they are so hard to understand until you've lived through them.

There are times when you love as much as you possibly can in every way that you possibly can and it isn't enough.

There are things that will never fix to being "normal."

I know this.

When my coworkers joking ask how I stay so calm in the middle of insanity (aka lunch rush), I want to tell them, "You have no idea."

When I find someone else who has a sibling with reactive attachment disorder, I feel like I found a missing sibling of my own.  We speak a common language.

And when people ask me what I think about adoption, I hesitate.

Here are four quotes that are "linked" in my mind to my thoughts about the hard parts about having grown up in an adoptive family.  (Rereading these as I post them, I think they apply to a lot of situations where we assume that we know someone else's backstory.)

Now that you know this is my life
I won't be told what's supposed to be right.
[from "Catch My Breath" by Kelly Clarkson]

Because, honestly, I have heard people say dumb, dumb stuff about adoption.  And how wonderful it always is.  And I want to hit them in the face with a creme pie...or something like that.

I don't know any way to do justice to the complexities in words.  I know that God delights in working good through adverse situations, but trying to make adversity sound less.... adverse.... does no favor to the people who live through it, and it minimizes God's grace.

Don't paint over the ugly.  Don't assume that you know what went wrong and how to fix all of it.

"Well, to be fair," I said, "I mean, she probably can't handle it.  Neither can you, but she doesn't have to handle it.  And you do."
[from The Fault In Our Stars by John Green]

At this point in the book, Hazel is talking to her friend Isaac, whose girlfriend broke up with him because he has cancer, telling him that she couldn't handle it.

I'd say that's true when I think about what my family went through when I was growing up.  It wasn't stuff that we could handle.  But we had to.

How could you ever understand where I come from?
Even if you ask --
Even if you listen --
you will not really hear, see, or feel.
You don't remember my story.
[from ReMoved]

I think this is true.  Even with my best friends.  Even with the best listeners who I know.  They don't remember my story.  That is no shortcoming in them; I think it's just a function of being finite.  I don't really fully understand their stories, either.

But sometimes it seems harder, and like it hurts more, to even really try to explain.

So a lot of times, I don't.

Oh my God, can I complain?
You take away my firm belief
And graft my soul upon Your grief...
Sometimes I cannot forgive
These days mercy cuts so deep
If the world was how it should be
Maybe I could get some sleep.
[from "Oh My God" by Jars of Clay]

This is probably one of my favorite songs.

Especially this line: mercy cuts so deep.

It balances so very well in the tension.  Real mercy cuts and leaves scars.  Real mercy is dirty and messy and hard.

Real mercy, after all, is the perfect God becoming flesh in a very broken world.

It does cut.

So when people ask, I hesitate.  And warn them that it's going to be a long conversation.


  1. Very thoughtful and well done. Something that needs to be said!


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