Don’t Tell My Son That He’s “Lucky”

This post is a part of our Orphan Awareness Month series in November 2014 to advocate, educate, and spark discussion about topics relating to adoption and orphan care.  To check out the other posts in the OAM series, click here.

 

I’ve always loved fairy tales.  Although I was much more interested in climbing trees than playing with dolls, like most little girls I was fascinated by the magic that I knew was coming when I heard the words, “Once upon a time …”.  I knew that no matter what came next, the story would end in “… happily ever after.”.  Someone would be rescued.  Something wonderful would happen.  All would be well.

Happily ever after …

I admit that my early interest in adoption was tied to a love of fairy tales.  When you first think of it, it seems to fit, doesn’t it?  Someone will be rescued.  Something wonderful would happen.  All would be well.

Happily ever after.

From the perspective of an adoptive parent, maybe that is the whole story.  But adoption isn’t just about a parent – it’s about a child.  What does the story look like to them?  Someone has left me, now someone is taking me.  Something scary is happening … again.  I don’t know if I will ever be well again, or if I ever was.

Happily ever after?

As an adoptive parent, you get used to hearing hurtful things that well-meaning people say out of ignorance.  But of them all, there is one that is especially painful to hear.

“He’ll be so much better off with you!”

“You must be so happy you found him!”

“God sure was watching out for him to bring him to you!”

“He’s so lucky!”

What all of these things have in common is the fairy tale myth of adoption.  That somehow his story is a happy one with a happy ending.

Will he be better off with me?  No.  He would have been better off being raised by biological parents who loved and cherished him and watched him grow up in the culture he was born to, never doubting for a moment that he was ever wanted.  I will do my best to be the best Plan B mother I can be, but he was never supposed to mine, and would have been better off if Plan A had gone differently.

Am I happy I found him?  No.  The fact that I found him only means someone else lost him, or someone else left him.  No child should ever be in the position of waiting for weeks, months, or years for someone to “find” them.  As he gets older and for the rest of his life, he will carry that burden, no matter how much love he receives in my home.  I thank God every day that I get to be the one to raise him and love him, but that joy will always be marked by a deep sorrow at all that he lost.

Was God watching out for him?  Of course.  I believe that God has been watching my son since the day he was conceived in another woman’s womb.  I already feel incredibly honored with the privileged of being entrusted with him.  But like many people who have been exposed to suffering, I question why God would put him through all that he has already been through.  I am already dreading the day when my son asks me why God would ever allow him to end up in the horrible position of being available for adoption.  I am not naive enough to assume that saying, “So you could be MY son!” will be a good answer.  All that says to him is that my joy was worth his pain, and God thought so too.

Is he lucky?  No.  Oh, heavens no.  Do you know who is lucky?  The baby who’s conception was longed for and prayed over.  The infant who was born healthy because his mother took excellent care of herself while pregnant.  The newborn who arrives into this world with friends and family waiting outside the delivery room door.  The child who was read to and tucked in every night by the same person.  The child who has baby pictures to bring to school on show-n-tell day.  The baby who never learned to lull himself to sleep by rocking or banging his head on the crib bars.  The child who never even questions her position in her family, never wonders if she is considered precious and lovable and prized above all others.  The little girl who was never sexually abused by an orphanage worker.  The little boy who doesn’t even know what an orphanage is.  The schoolchild who makes healthy friendships with his peers and respectful relationships with his teachers, because he has experienced love his entire life.  The young girl who has always been wanted, and therefore doesn’t sabotage relationships so that she can be the one who leaves this time. The little boy who wonders how long it will be until he causes this family to ditch him too.  The teenager who doesn’t have to wonder how her life might be different, or better, had she been born to parents who kept her.  The eighteen-year-old who doesn’t wrestle with the decision of contacting his birth parents, because they are asleep in the room down the hall.

Source: Creative Commons via Flickr, Victor Bezrukov

Source: Creative Commons via Flickr, Victor Bezrukov

These are the lucky kids.  The kids who have been wanted and cherished and loved every day of their lives, as all kids deserve.  My son is not so lucky.

Adoption is a wonderful thing.  It is a beautiful thing.  But more than anything else, adoption is a redemptive thing.  Redemption is only needed when there is first pain and darkness.  If humanity was full of life and light and love for God, we wouldn’t have needed a Redeemer.  No matter how beautiful the result, redemption is always rooted in sorrow.

Adoption is a byproduct of the horrifying brokenness of our world.  It is a result of The Fall.  In a perfect world, adoption wouldn’t exist because there would be no need for it.  To step into adoption is to step into brokenness, the worst kind of brokenness – the kind being bore by a child.

So, please.  No matter how well-intended, please don’t tell my son that he is lucky.  Please don’t tell him he is better off or that we wanted this for him.  In our home, he will be cherished and loved and wanted, but we will always just be making up for lost time.  There will be joy, because that is the promise of redemption.  But there will always, always be pain.

To be an adoptive parent is to embrace both the beauty and the brokenness of this little one’s story.  It will mean being okay with the fact that these opposites will always somehow co-exist in his heart, and in mine.  It will mean setting my fairy tale adoption narrative aside – no matter how much I wish it were true – and doing real, redemptive life with this precious little boy.

That might be the true happily ever after.

 

 

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