Thursday, January 9, 2014

Why Adoption Isn't Second-Best (Part I)

The thing about my life is that adoption is woven all the way through, a fine thread of gold. Sometimes it blends, hiding among all the other threads, and sometimes it catches the light while the rest fade away. On a bad day, my eyes are burned a bit. On a good one, I dance it its sunbeam while everything else seeps and grays.

I've been wide awake for all the latest waves on the adoption debate.  
Adoption is good because it gives a child a family! 
Adoption is risky because it separates a child from his family! 

I struggle to land cleanly on one side.

I've felt defensive on behalf of myself and every adoptive mother I personally know, who loves without asking why and forgets altogether, at times, that some families aren't built this way.

I've felt sucker-punched over the gutting realities of trafficking and blurred or even broken ethics. Due diligence is not an option in this age of fraudulence and preying on easy targets.

Adoption might be slipping in the polls a bit these days. Trends are shifting. But at the end of the day,  adoption and orphan prevention are a "both/and" situation. They aren't fair competitors. They're teammates. Anyone committed to tuning their heart to God's heart for the orphan needs to find a way to advocate for both.

My four children came to me for four very different reasons, none of which would have been avoided by offering financial or even emotional assistance to the birth mom. This outcome is complex, in every circumstance. From where you and I sit, it can look like nothing but puddles and mud, particularly in light of the heartbreak these kids were handed.

But I imagine things look different from where God sits. We know he values family. We believe his heart throbs along with every throbbing heart. He invented the language and action of adoption, and we reacted as adopted kiddos often do - so ready to fall weary into our rescue, but curious about what we're missing and suspecting there could be a limit to his love.

This world has been detrimentally compromised by sin, so I understand the argument that God's design did not include fractured families and emotional scars. But we need to tread carefully in this debate, because the healing and emotional prosperity of my four children and millions of others' depends on our unflinching insistence that God is in this. They have got to believe he didn't leave it to a bunch of idiot humans (that would be me and you. sorry.) to make a mess of it all while they stand holding the broom.

This is God's plan for their lives, and though it's not a plan without thick bands of scar tissue, it was intentional and by-design, the most complete picture of redemption I can imagine, an indulgent, showy garden of heirloom roses rising up from the ash-heap.

Every day, children are born with disabilities and illness, in poverty, and into splintered families. God allows the brokenness of our world into our lives in different ways, effectively introducing pain into our stories, yet knowing all along the hurt is often what drives us straight to him.

If we find ourselves teetering on the fault-line of "God intended kids to be raised by their birth parents", let's also consider that God intended a space-finite world without death, which would have born serious implications on the eventual existence of, well, us.

He's the ultimate dumpster-diver - plucking lives out of ruin and breathing holy life back into them; clutching the small, rescuing the wounded, and crafting a future bearing their name in swirly,  hand-lettered ink. There are no cross-outs or strike-throughs, no eraser burns or misprints.

We overstep our bounds and exaggerate our power when we believe for a moment that we created this beautiful movement of people rushing out into the world to find their children.

We diminish the holiest view of family when we begin to define things with logic or science. I was always meant for Ruby, and she for me. From the foundations of the earth, my heart was destined to be bound to those of Ruby's entire birth family. I can't imagine my life without them and I would lasso the moon to have the same with my boys' birth families.

And though I would never have the guts to ask a child to give up all that he or she was born with, I also don't have the wisdom to see that beyond the hurting, it all makes perfect sense.

Adoption as God intended is the gift of a lifetime. Period. It requires profound bravery and blind trust. It challenges our assumptions about what we "deserve" and shatters our ideas about what we have to offer. Adoption is the great trampler of death, restoring hope to the hopeless and building family trees with limbs so love-laden, the leaves skim the ground.

I have much more to say on this topic, so meet me back here soon for Part II.