What adoption needs to be.


I was interviewed for a few publications for adoption awareness month in November. By the time I spoke with the third author it was apparent that my adoption story is not what most wanted to hear. They were hoping for a story about a fresh from the womb baby saved from their birth mother and welcomed into a home and they were hoping for some accompanying back lit VSCO newborn pics, too. Toddlers and adolescents with genetic conditions and PTSD aren’t best sellers.

We love adoption stories, don’t we? Especially Christians. We love our own story of spiritual adoption by God so we try to apply that to adoption of children and we get all kinds of feels about it. “Isn’t adoption beautiful? It is, after all, ordained…” we smile and say to each other in words and back pats and cute internet graphics that we fill our social media with.

The problem is we try to lay adoption alongside the cross and we create a villian in the momma and saviors in ourselves. Anyone who suggests otherwise is labeled “anti adoption” or told we don’t have enough faith to understand, despite what our own life circumstances and experiences may be.

I am anti adoption, to be honest. I am categorically against not exhausting every single avenue to keep families together. I am intimately familiar with the loss that occurs when a person loses their biological family. I will never be “pro” that.

Deeper than that, though, is that I think we have become so attached to an ideal of beautiful, redemptive adoption that we, the collective “we” that fills out the papers and meet with the workers and scrolls through pictures of kids, are afraid of committing to anything that looks like it may not end in a fairy tale. We want a “love fixes all” theme and that is a lot easier with a young child or infant that we presume to carry less baggage so we leave the messy kids waiting for years and years and sometimes forever, in favor of fresh babies and kids without diagnoses.

Love can’t fix either of my kids profound special needs. It doesn’t rearrange chromosomes or undo brain injuries. It doesn’t crawl back in time and feed a baby aching from starvation. My adoptees may never look like success on this side of heaven to the outside world but every day that they wake up in their beds, with their family, Jesus is so near.

I cast no judgment about infant adoptions. I celebrate every child born in this world and every family that loves them. I do struggle to understand, though, how in this culture of “adoption is the gospel” we have forgotten who Jesus reached for most of all: those cast aside.

There is a long wait to adopt a “healthy” (ie, neurotypical) unborn baby. Some estimates say 70+ couples per fetus, some say 35ish.

There are 100,000 children waiting in the US foster system with no one waiting for them. While adoptive parents congratulate themselves on “living the gospel” the kids Jesus would have run to first wonder why they are not worthy of a family. While glossy profile books are published for hopeful parents to audition for expecting mothers, kids like mine die in orphanages, either physically or spiritually. I am not sure which death is worse.

We need to stop believing in an exclusive gospel that only asks us to do what is easy. We need to meditate on Jesus’s broken body and what He did for us. We need to stop leaving the hard stuff for other people. No, we are not all called the same but I am parenting a child who asked his caseworker every single month if a family had chosen him yet and I know we are called to be better than that.

As adoption month approaches, my message is unchanging. We need to find homes for children who need them, not babies for families that want them. If it’s about our own wants, it’s not the gospel.

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