Saturday, October 24, 2009

Adoption Thoughts - Is Josh my "own" child?

Today when I dropped Joshua off at one of his therapeutic programs, I started chatting with one of the staff who were checking us in. I had Hope with me and she noted that Hope and her brother do not look very much alike. I said, "Yeah, our first two kids are adopted." She said, "How many children do you have?" I said, "Three kids. We adopted two then we got pregnant." ( I knew what was coming . . . the response that is supposed to be empathetically joyful but ends up feeling somewhat confusingly offensive to me.) "Ah! A miracle child!" The woman said, pointing to Hope, "And she brought such luck to you for the next one. Your dream came true!" (It's always some version of this - something about how finally a child of our "own". We must be so happy! Many people comment that Hope was our lucky charm.)

I never know what to say. I mean, I know that people are trying to be nice and they mean well but I have about 6 different issues with this type of response:

1. All of my children are my own. Who else's would they be? I would die for any one of them. I would give my life for each of them. I am giving my life for them, diaper by diaper, day by day.

2. Each of them are miracles. In a way, the adopted ones are especially miracles in their presence here on earth because of the pressure that their birth moms received during their pregnancies to abort. That was not an option for Anna but very real possibilities for Josh and Hope when they were in utero.

3. Hope was not a way to get to Anna, even in some cosmic or superstitious way. She was a complete, maximal blessing in and of herself. Pointing to Anna or making Anna possible was, in no way, any real part of who she is. I do not believe that God rewarded us with Anna because we were so virtuous in our adoption of Hope and Josh. We adopted because we desperately wanted children not to be noble.

4. Having a biological child does not make me any happier or complete than having an adopted child. Anna is not any more of a blessing (or any less of a burden) than Josh or Hope. I must admit that it is kind of cool to see Alex and my genetic make up reflected in her little body and personality but that's just one thing that's cool about Anna. It's also really cool that Hope has such a can-do personality and will probably rule the world someday. It's really cool that through Josh, scores of people have been moved more toward the unfathomably loving heart of God.

5. It's strange to me that people think that Anna would be the big blessing gift from God. Don't get me wrong, she is a huge blessing gift from God, and yes, she is a miracle for many reasons, including our medically documented infertility issues on both sides. But it's through Josh that I have most interacted with God, turned to God, and heard from God. Joshua is the biggest catalyst for my spiritual growth. There have been several times where God has spoken to me about Josh in an almost audible way. Twice, I heard God ask me, "Will you give the rest of your life to parenting this child?" Like it was a real question that He expected a response from. I felt Him waiting for a response, really listening to my heart. I said Yes. It felt like a vow that I was asked to make that was not unlike my marriage vow.

6. I never, ever want my children to hear people insinuate that Anna is any more valuable or miraculous or wanted than Hope or Josh. I can imagine what it would do to Hope to hear comments that seem to convey that a biological child, namely her sister, was what we really wanted. I know that I can't completely protect her from those attitudes but I want to. I guess that's why I'm blogging about this today-- so i can think through these things and have a good answer when people say stuff like this.


  1. yeah, living with an adopted soon to be mixed adoption and biological children household I am shocked at the things people say in an effort to "relate" or mitigate their own curiosities/confusion/shock. Bless you as you continue to refine your responses to these questions that no doubt will happen again and again. I love your wacky family. XO, Am

  2. Hi Susan-
    Thanks for sending us your blog. And for venting in a nice and systematic way things I experience and feel often. Blessings to you as you live this week. love,
    P.S. Sundee and I are starting to read a book called Sacred parenting. It's probably got some problems with it but the idea is interesting similar to your blog--how God shapes us through parenting our kids.

  3. Well, my friend, you said it well! HOW MANY times have I had the "miracle" comment has been made to me by well-meaning folks?!?!? That and how having a biological child must have happened because I was finally able "to relax"! Much grace to you, my friend!

  4. Hi Susan,

    I really apprecaite reading your blog. I understand being from mixed biological/adopted family as well. Andrew and I are given different roles in people's minds and it is so strange becuase each of us is equally a member of our family. I think often people who are not from adoptive families struggle to understand how adoption is really just a mirror of God's adoption of all of us into his family. We are equally members, equally loved, divinely belonging. Family dynamics can be so complex:)

  5. The Abbot of the monastery that trained me in spiritual direction refers to parenting as one of the primary ways that we enter into being "broken Bread and poured out Wine." I think of this every time I celebrate the Eucharist.