I thought the best place to start this series would be at the beginning. And every single adoption starts with one thing: loss. Perhaps not always on the side of the adoptive parents, but certainly always on the side of the children and birth parents. Always. That part, the beginning, the loss, cannot be ignore or glossed over.
There’s a whole lot of pain and separation and loss that happened in my children before we came along. There was nine (ish) months of growing in the womb and bonding to their mothers. There was, for one of my children, at least several weeks of bonding outside of the womb. Then there was separation and trauma and loss. Another period of adjusting to a new environment … and then we came and though we love them fiercely we were still strangers. So when we took them from their home country it was another trauma and great loss. Familiar smells and sights were gone. Their once familiar language was so longer heard. Yes, they were gaining so very much… but in order to gain they had to lose a lot.
This part of adoption breaks my heart. This part feels largely ignored by the world. Comments like, “He’s the luckiest boy in the world….” or ” she won the lottery when she got adopted by you two…” are proof of that. I understand the sentiment behind the comments, I truly do. What they mean to say is that it is such a work of God’s grace and mercy that out of such brokenness and heartache and loss could be hope, restoration, and redemption. Yes, I see that, I promise I do. But that’s not lucky or winning the lottery or getting the best deal in life. It’s beauty from ashes… but you can’t discount the ashes.
So let’s start here. Let’s start in the ashes because for a myriad of reasons I cannot be a whole loving mother to my children without first acknowledging, examining, and being willing to dive into the loss they experienced. Out of that I get to dig and search and help them find the beauty, yes, and I am so honored to be that person who gets to stand with them. But if we ignore the loss, shove it aside and pretend it never happened and that now is all that matters, the restoration will never be complete.
There must be a balance. The temptation is to always portray adoption as all happiness, roses, rainbows, puppies, and the like. On the other hand, there is so very much hope and joy that comes with adoption. So we shouldn’t solely focus on the painful parts either. That is my hope for this little series for National Adoption Month. I hope to provide a balanced view that shows all sides of the story — not shying away from the ashes while portraying the beauty.
After all, let’s be so thankful that our children’s stories don’t stay in the ashes… that there is so much hope and beauty and grace in them. Because isn’t that the gospel picture? Suffering, pain, loss, darkness … then dawn, redemption, restoration, hope, and completion.
Tomorrow I am so grateful to have Carissa Woodwyk as a guest. Carissa speaks so beautifully into this very discussion, as a woman who was adopted from Korea at five months old, I so appreciate her perspective and know you will too.