“The LORD regretted that he had made human beings on the earth, and his heart was deeply troubled.” Genesis 6:6
Even God feels regret. And both biological and adoptive parents should not expect an immunity from regretting your choices at times.
Absolutely nothing qualifies me to write about adoption other than the fact that four years ago I adopted 3 teenage girls from Cameroon, Africa. I have yet to know if this was a successful “Rescue Mission” as others title it, much to the chagrin of some. The girls were my husband’s siblings and their mother died when my husband and I lived in Cameroon. Their father had died a few years prior. What prompted me to write this post was seeing a friend’s update on FB yesterday about how unfortunate it is to hear others talking about adoption as if it’s their own little personal rescue mission, in effort to
abduct rescue a child from poverty.
I understand her point, I think. Completely. I don’t think any child would want to grow up hearing their “rescue” story every time things go wrong OR right. Aka, They make an A in school. They hear, “Oh, aren’t you so glad we rescued you so that you could get a “stellar” American education and make straight A’s so that you could then graduate, get an 8-5 job and have children of your own?” OR to the other extreme. They start selling drugs on the street corner. They hear “How could you CHOOSE this life when you were RESCUED for the very reason of escaping the STREETS?” Maybe they don’t “hear” it but have you ever “thought” it?
Maybe you DID adopt to add a family member to your family or to finally experience parenthood AND the idea of “rescuing” a child or trying to “give them a better life” actually does seem as foreign to you as your adopted child’s native country. But as un-glorified as it may seem, some people DO adopt out of obligation. A naively glorified obligation to assist those who seem to have a need that outweighs the good sense of just leaving those “poor” children right where they are. I mean, why is having a parent so important after all? You’ll never replace their biological mother or father, EVER. If you’re not looking to fulfill your maternal instinct–what’s the point of getting all tangled up in the complexities of adoption? If you have children
of your own, you know just how difficult it is to parent biological children. What makes you think parenting adopted children would be ANY easier?
Don’t THINK. Just DO. And for what? Because somewhere in the back of your mind, you believe that you will be providing that child a better life than they would have had otherwise. Sounds like a rescue mission to me. But suit up. With the whole armor and such. Because the angels won’t be serenading you with heavenly songs from above when everything below seems just a little bit more than you bargained for. Not everyone who adopts, adopts with the intent of “rescuing” that child into a better life. But some do. And at times, when they tout the fact that they’ve “rescued” someone, maybe, just maybe– it’s because they’re trying to find value up against the “cost” of what they’ve done. Maybe they’re trying to reconcile their own losses with a melancholy disposition of an adopted child they thought might have found happiness already. Naive? Yes. A common reality? I think so. None of us are immune to our own human depravity.
Here are some reasons why ALL adoptive parents who adopt with any inkling to “rescue” need grace rather than distant skepticism peppered with criticism:
1) Adopting a child in order to give them a “better life” will eventually force you to define just exactly what a “better life” is. This is an excruciatingly painful process.
2) “Rescuing” a child through adoption will force you to constantly scrutinize their life “here” up against what their life “there” might have been.
3) Most people assume you’re adopting for “some other reason“…they just haven’t quite figured it out yet. Ironically, they will emphatically say it’s “pious” to claim that you’re rescuing a child, yet at the same time, they think it’s o.k. to insinuate point blank that there MUST be SOME benefit in “adding” an extra set of “helping hands” to your family.
4) You will find yourself in a constant battle to treat your biological and adopted children one-in-the-same, when in reality, they’re not. They are NOT the same. I know that over and over again, people appear on talk shows and radically claim that there is no difference between their biological and adopted children. But there is. To me, anyway. And you’re constantly trying to make heads or tails of those differences. Because after all, why would you “rescue” a child just to treat them ANY less than your own?
5) You’re in a panic because you set out to rescue someone else, but now, you’re in sudden need of rescue yourself!