Knowing What Adoption ISN’T helps us more clearly understand what adoption IS. Adoption is such a juxtaposition of adversity and victory, and that fact alone can leave people feeling unsure of what to say or think about it. Adoptive families are “real” families and though no two adoptions look exactly the same, there are a few truths that apply to all.
A gift to celebrate
Just as the birth of a baby is a joyous occasion, so is the finalization of a child’s adoption. Adoption may not always hold the same fanfare and receive the same level of understanding from others, but it is none-the-less, the delivery of a child into a grateful family. Often times the adopted child has already resided in the home of his adoptive family prior to the official day of adoption, leaving friends and family unsure of how to mark this occasion. Whatever the circumstances, adoption is a gift to celebrate. The packaging of this “gift” may not look as pretty or as perfect as some would prefer, but the treasure of a child is immeasurable regardless of the packaging or delivery method. If you know an adoptive family, shower them with love, and share in their joy. If you are an adoptive family, don’t hesitate to celebrate this miraculous occasion in your family’s life!
A complex covenant
Adoption court is where a judge, with the power of the state, officially declares a child to belong to parents to whom he or she was not born. The judge explains to the parents that the child IS theirs as if born to them in lawful wedded union, with all of the rights and responsibilities that accompany such a relationship. With natural birth, it is assumed that parents understand these rights and responsibilities. No one asks parents to take an oath or sign an agreement before taking their biological child home from the hospital. With adoption, these natural or biological rights are being transferred to the adoptive parents who express a commitment to carry them through. Most times, adoption is preceded by intense struggles and “labor pains” to rival the most intense natural birth. Unfortunately, these days, weeks, and sometimes years of labor can take a toll on the child and leave him or her in need of “intensive care.” Adoption is not the “end” of a journey as many people think of it. Instead, it is the beginning of a lifetime of love and care for a child who may continue to need intensive care. Though the legal connection to biological parents and family is severed upon completion of adoption, the reality remains that nothing ever completely separates a child from his or her biology. Adoptive parents navigate a complex parenting task to help their child celebrate his origins while embracing the God-given family that is his forever. Some adoptions are open, and families are in a constant state of learning how to maintain balance and tranquility in their relationships. Others may be closed or have little background information available for parents to offer a child. In either case, there will always be more in the heart and mind of an adopted child and her parents than the outside world will see or understand. It is not simple, and it is not easy, but adoption results in a very real and permanent bond between parents and child. A covenant is a binding agreement, promise, pledge and this complex covenant of adoption is equal to biological birth, resulting in a lifelong commitment to parenting.
A worthwhile pursuit
In an imperfect world, one can spend his days questioning the injustice he sees around him, or he can focus his time on doing something about it. The starfish story is a great picture of orphan care on any level. It is easy to become overwhelmed by the incredible need for foster and adoptive parents across the United States and around the world. Not everyone can or will be able to foster or adopt, but everyone can do SOMEthing. Take the time to determine what your “something” can be. However cliché’ it may sound, the reality is, the children are the future (cue Whitney Houston’s “Greatest Love of All”). You may not be able to impact every child in need of a forever home, but you will most certainly make a difference in the life of the one you invest in.
In celebration of National Adoption month, please share this post with everyone you know. Even if you are not in a position to foster or adopt, you may know someone who is. Helping spread the word just might be your “something.” The need is real, and urgent, and everyone can have a part.