Good piece written out of the adoptee’s view on being adopted transracially.
Another article on using the right adoption language, but written also out of a Christian worldview and perspective on adoption. Well worth the read!
A very good look at both adoption as we know it to be but also our adoption into God’s family by the work of Jesus Christ.
All My Children Are ‘My Own’
OCT 292014The theological significance of adoption language.
“We prefer not to refer to our children as ‘adopted children’ as we see adoption as having been a one-time event. We just call them our children,” Hagerty said.
“If Mommy gets a baby in her belly, will you send me back?” my daughter asked, with nervous eyes searching the floor, inhaling the shame of those words as if they were her indictment.
It’s often near the surface for this one — not the year she was “chosen” and a mommy and daddy flew all the way across the ocean to look her in the eyes and call her daughter — but the too-many, earlier years that still seem to weigh heavier. These days, she lives buoyant and giddy. Her eyes have found a sparkle, and we see them more than we see those hands that spent nearly a year awkwardly covering them. My little girl laughs. A lot. And this week when I hugged her I could tell her body wanted to melt (not stiffen) in my arms.
But just within her reach is the shame she feels about her life on the other side, when her given last name tied her to no one. One phrase or question or hint of her past and I watch those eyes, which just harnessed a sparkle, go dark.
Adoption saved her and it haunts her, because of its open-ended definition to her. It’s still a question. She, like many of the rest of us, has yet to reconcile the power of this one act.
Children of My Own
I hadn’t even kissed their foreheads or tickled their feet and this stranger’s words about them stung.
“Oh, you’re adopting? Just you wait. Once you have them at home I’m sure you’ll be able to have children of your own.”
A phrase I’ve heard a hundred times, and it never ceases to give my heart pause. Children of your own, words that expose a subconscious understanding of adoption as charitable affection versus primal love. As if these, once-adopted ones, were somehow, not truly mine.
There is a distinction in our language about those children, once adopted, and their biological counterparts that reveals much more about the state of our hearts — the state of myheart — than it does about the children to whom it’s referring.
That simple phrase, often spoken by beautifully intentioned people, reveals the shame under which my daughter sometimes lives. But she’s not alone, she just lives an outward existence that represents the battle each one of us fights in our understanding of him.
It is inherent to human flesh. We are interlopers, or so we think, hanging on to the coattails of another person’s inheritance. Certainly we’re not “one of his own,” we hold deep-down; instead we grasp at something we believe will never really name us. We are simply recipients of his charitable affections, we subconsciously reason.
Our language about physical adoption reveals the gaps in our understanding about how he has adopted us. And those words that sting when I hear them make me hurt more than just for my children, but for the representation of his name.
Most can’t imagine a love beyond what we see in the natural as the most intense form of love — the kind birthed when a mother’s body breaks open to give life to one that shared her flesh and her breath. How could it be that a mother could not only love, but see as her own, a child that her womb did not form and who wears another mama’s skin? We see the struggle of attaching, mother to child and child to mother, that so often happens in adoption, and it only reinforces our subconscious belief that true love between mother and child is only inherited through blood … and not won.
Adoption Changes Everything
When my daughter’s eyes fill with the shame of her history and her heart begins to clamp behind them and adoption is still her question — am I truly “in” or just posing? – I see me. I see a hundred weak yeses as just plain weak and all the things I’ve declared with my mouth that my body never fulfilled and the times I poured out prayers to him only to forget him, the real source of my strength, hours later.
I see a never-ending list of failures. I live, subtly, as if I am on the outside of that fence. Just like her. All things that could be wiped away in an instant if I understood the power of his having adopted me. This reality changes everything.
I am a child of his own, this God-Man who wrapped his holiness around my sin-stained existence and renamed me. Adopted. Grafted. I am one who is marked by his name more than any of my failures.
A child who knows that adoption isn’t really about the past that haunts her, the forever stamp of separate, not included, but instead the name of the King who fought, hard for her — she wears a love that is fierce. She’s a force with which to be reckoned, this wildly-loved former-orphan. Me.
So when I hear that phrase “a child of your own” separating the children under my roof from the one born from my womb, and my heart saddens at the misunderstanding of this wild-love that’s been birthed within my home among children who wear another mama’s skin, I can’t help but think of him.
He calls me “his own” when the world and my heart wants to label me forever severed.
Adoption is his great declaration.
Sara Hagerty is a wife to Nate and a mother of five whose arms stretched wide across the ocean to Africa. Sara is the author of Every Bitter Thing is Sweet: Tasting the Goodness of God In All Things and she writes regularly about life-delays, finding God in the unlikely, motherhood, marriage and adoption athttp://EveryBitterThingisSweet.com, where this article originally appeared.
* This article was first posted on Christianity Today.
“I placed my baby for adoption, and I can also say he’s the best thing that ever happened to me. He transformed my life. I loved my child more than words can explain, and I still do. I believe my love for him was the first real love I’d ever felt, because it was completely selfless. It was the BIGGEST feeling I’ve known. My heart grew in my chest the moment I laid eyes on him. Had I loved him any less—one ounce less—he would be with me now! My love for him was the only thing that could enable me to break my own heart. I didn’t just feel love; I did what love dictated.”
Tamra, birth mother
In this post the writer shares a letter that she has written to her daughter’s birth mom 7 years ago. It really brought me to tears. We were also in the very fortunate positioned to have met and spend some time with both our children’s birth mothers. They will always be part of our family and I love seeing and recognising their features in my children. Both birth mothers are very brave women who I admire for their selfless act of love and the gift they have given us in entrusting their children in our care.
Absolutely beautiful! God is a gracious and compassionate Father and sets the lonely into families.
Children come into families in different ways – some by caeserian section, some by natural birth and some through adoption. In our case its been adoption.
After trying to conceive for several years, going through numerous tests and procedures without any positive outcome we decided it was time to investigate adoption. Before we got married, while going through a premarital course we discussed how we would handle infertility and decided then already that we would definitely keep adoption open as an option if it gets to that. We even went as far as to say that even if we were to have our own biological children we would still like to adopt “one day”.
December 2009 we were finally faced with one of the biggest decisions of our lives so far – to stop fertility treatment and pursue adoption or carry on with the hope that we might conceive someday. During our December vacation we both read the book “Adopted for Life” by Russell Moore. This might have been the most important book that focused our efforts and energy into the adoption process.
Back home after our holidays we started finding out about the process and the various options. In the end we decided to go with a private social worker as it was common knowledge that this route was by far the easiest and least tedious. But still little did we know about all the paperwork, home studies, police clearance, family interviews etc etc.
By June that year our profile was ready and all the paperwork done – we were ready to be “paper pregnant”! A few weeks later my mom phoned me about a friend of their neighbour that knew about a young girl that was pregnant. Due to her circumstances she was unable to keep her baby.
Would we send our profile to them? This wasn’t the first time we would hear about a situation like this. So we actually didn’t give too much thought to it but did forward our profile.
3 weeks later I got a phone call on a winter’s afternoon. It was the pregnant girl’s sister saying that her sister wanted us to adopt her baby if we still wanted to! Wow! I had to pinch mysef and relive the conversation a few times before I realised that this was really happening!!
A week later our social worker flew down from Cape Town and we all arranged to meet at O.R. Tambo Airport. The emotions were surreal. What would she look like? What will she think when she meets us? Will she change her mind?! Finally the day arrived and we went to the airport. I spotted her immediately in the Spur and my first thoughts were – Beautiful!! She had big blue eyes, porcelain white skin and a shy smile. The meeting went well and we arranged to go with her to the next gynaecologist appointment. There we met our beautiful daughter for the first time on the sonar screen! The next few weeks would be characterized by an emotional rollercoaster ride! Excitement mixed with anxious thoughts – was this really happening?!
Finally the big day – 7 October 2010 – arrived! What a strange mix of emotions… We left our home early to avoid the traffic to Johannesburg – we couldn’t be late for the birth of our daughter!! We met our biological mom and her sister in the labour ward and had a special time together, exchanging gifts. Nina’s biological mom made her a quilt with her date of birth on it. We treasure it and keep it safe to give it to Nina at the right time as part of her special story.
Just after 8am our perfect gift was delivered by c/section! I was in the theatre along with our very brave biological mom’s sister. After the paediatrician checked her, he handed her to me and I could hold my daughter for the first time! A true heart-stopping moment!! I was admitted to the labour ward with Nina and was her mommy from her first breath! I will always thank and praise our Lord for this incredible privilege! After 2 days we were all discharged and it was time to say goodbye. It was sad to greet everyone, but our hearts were full!
Now Nina is 3 1/2! She is a joy – exuberant, full of life, laughter and adventure! I truly hope that one day I will be able to tell her in as much detail as possible about the brave, selfless act of love her “tummy-mommy” did by entrusting her into our care! We thank God our Father for the special privilege He has given us to experience the joy of parenthood and the wonder of adoption!
If it takes a village to raise a child it takes a family to love them. Not a sentimental love but a love that owns that child no matter what, a love that takes them in encircling them with bonds of care, a love that anchors their hearts with a deep sense of belonging. A love where children find rest, safe and secure, knowing they are wanted and loved without reserve.
We are very grateful for the special welcome and love Siya has received from our family. Bringing a child from a different race into our family, we expected apprehension and perhaps even disapproval. What a blessing, however, to see the way in which our families have embraced Siya into the family. We know it’s not easy and therefore their attitude and actions have been even more meaningful.
Grandpa Chris has embraced Siya in a particularly special way. For the first two family gatherings he has insisted on a whole new set of family photographs as part of Siya’s welcoming – a reminder to the broader family, and a special remembrance for Siya, that he belongs. On the day Siya was placed in our care Grandpa Chris made the following post on his Facebook profile that set the tone for the way the family welcomed Siya:
“Today we have a new grandson. At first glance, he does not look like us from the outside, but soon he will speak like us, laugh like us, eat like us worship like us. Yesterday, his biological mother gave him away and if I have my way, it will be the last time that someone has turned their back on him. In our family he will be raised in the fear of the Lord, he will receive a good upbringing and education, he will receive a lot of love and he will take up his own special place amongst his own family, his grandparents, his uncles and aunts and his cousins and nieces.
A new life awaits him.
If you are on my friend list and this development makes you uncomfortable and causes inner turmoil, here is a handy window period to draw a line through your name on my friend list and quietly disappear without prejudice.”
To all our family: We have been wonderfully blessed by the way you have supported us with Siya’s adoption story. In a country where race divides, you have been exceptional examples that those divides can be crossed by family love. Through this experience we have only come to appreciate you more deeply than before – we cannot thank you enough!
Coming home to a family is the longing we all have – A place of rest, a place of safety, a place of belonging, a place of love. Earthly families can be a foretaste of that special joy. A reminder that there is an eternal family where the deepest most profound love binds people together for eternity – not by blood or race, but by the love and sacrifice of Jesus Christ, the beloved Son of our God and Father.
Siya has been blessed with grandparents, uncles, aunts, nephews and nieces who welcomed him and who love him. Our prayer is that in time he will come to know the Father from whom every family in heaven and earth gets its name (Eph 3:15) and his Son who paid the price to draw us into God’s eternal family.
Siya let loose into our care. A special thank you to New Beginningz Baby Haven for taking care of him for his first 9 weeks of life! This is a special place with special people taking care of special little people who have nowhere else to go. A big thank you also to our social worker, Letitia van den Berg, who facilitated the whole process so smoothly.
Many welcome hello’s to Siya from family and friends!
Nina is loving up little brother Siya! Family day at home. Getting settled with each other.
Van Zyl family day to welcome little Siya – thank you so much. It means more than words can say!
Swanepoel family day to welcome little Siya – thank you so much. It really means more than words can say!
It’s been 3 days since Siya came home and so far so good! He is a relaxed baby and is getting used to the new home and new routine. Nina is super-excited about having a baby brother to look after. We are grateful for the way she is handling her new sibling. God has been gracious to us!