A Model Family – Lessons Learned about an Adoptees Reunion with Her Birth Parents
I was brought to my parents’ home when I was 11 months old. My birth father delivered me to the house, and my birth mother was already long gone. After he left, my parents say they sat and stared at me. They were desperate to hold and love the child they had prayed for for so long, but they were also afraid of scaring me. They had to gain the trust of this stranger they now called “our daughter.” So began the complicated dance of adoption. With God’s guidance we
have been able to navigate the difficulties and doubts that come with every adoption – even a happy and successful one like mine.
The truth no one can erase is that for adopted parents to get a child, someone else has to place that child into an adoptive family. That knowledge can naturally create conflicted feelings in the child. But as long as I can remember, my parents cultivated love and gratitude for my birth parents’ role in God’s plan for my life. Through sin, my birth parents were not able to parent me properly, so God gave me new, amazing parents who reinforced and celebrated the choice God made for me. I do not know how I could have dealt with those confusing feelings if I had not always known that adoption was God’s special blessing for my life.
Unfortunately I have witnessed the wreckage in other adopted kids’ lives when parents let their insecurities and fears keep the adoption a secret. Often the parents convince themselves that they do it for the child, “We’ll wait until they are ready.” If Christian parents are honest with themselves, they know that the only way to hide God’s gift to them is to lie to their child. When an adopted child, often with residual trust issues already, finds out later in life that he or she was rejected by their original parents, then lied to by their only known parents, the effects are devastating. To compound the problem, most adopted kids interpret their parents’ silence about the issue as shame. Their parents may become the last people they will open up to about their feelings.
Although I am so close to my parents, I had a natural curiosity about my birth parents. Nearly all adopted kids and birth parents report a desire to know how the other turned out. My birth father dropped out of my life after a struggle with personal issues, but when my birth mother contacted me at the age of 20, I was very nervous about meeting her. What if I felt something? What did that mean for me and my mom who are so close? I prayed hard to be open to whatever God wanted to reveal for me though this relationship. What I eventually learned over several meetings was that we are very different people. Her problems that made her unable to keep me in the beginning were still with her, and I finally had to face the fact that she was unable to have a healthy relationship with me. It was a painful time in my life. Now through God’s example I can love my birth mother and wish her well, but we are no longer in regular contact.
Unfortunately, I have found that my reunion story is far more common than the ones that are portrayed on TV. I advise adoptees and birth parents to be honest about their fantasies and expectations of reunions. They also need to include their current family in the process. God put those people in our lives to love and support us. My parents are the only ones who understand the sometimes confusing journey of adoption we have all been on together.
What have I learned from all of this? A deep appreciation for God’s very specific plan for my life. It is a plan that is so far beyond my human understanding yet is one that has worked out beautifully. Yes, there can be difficulties, but God promises to get us through those too. I don’t know how non-Christians deal with adoption.
I fear those families are the ones we see on talk shows, but I do not know. I can only be grateful that with God’s guidance my parents used His example of love, honesty and grateful stewardship to make His blessing of adoption grow into a family that models His love for us all.
Ms. Larissa Fasthorse is a playwright and choreographer and a member of Gethsemane Lutheran, Los Angeles, California.