I grew up in a very religious home. We never missed a church service. I taught Sunday school. I briefly considered going into ministry work as a career. Then I got pregnant my freshman year of college. (My story is recounted here. )
Adoption had never been a big part, rather any part, of my life. I had never taken even one moment to think about it in my childhood. As far as I knew, none of my friends were adopted. If they were, it was never discussed. So when my mother mentioned that I place my daughter for adoption, my initial response was repulsion. I remember thinking that only an unloving mother would place her baby for adoption. That was not me. I very much loved my daughter, planned or not.
Repulsion would be my response throughout most of the remainder of my pregnancy. I prayed more during that time than I have ever prayed. It seemed at every turn there was something new to put me at a disadvantage; the boyfriend left, my car got totaled, I lost my job, etc. Surely God was actively forsaking me. I was not favored in His eyes.
My mom continued to push adoption. My dad taunted me on a regular basis about finding a place to live. Their threat had been that I would be homeless once the baby was born and if I decided to raise her as a single mom. Taking into account all the closed doors that were happening in my life, the outright rejection of my family, society’s hatred of single moms at the time, and my belief in “signs and wonders”; it was a perfect storm for The Evangelical Adoption Paradigm to make sense to me.
The Evangelical Adoption Paradigm is a term I have coined and I define it as: The modern Evangelical Church movement that posits that God ordains adoption. That He adopted us as His children and that Christians are in essence carrying out the Gospel message by adopting the children of strangers. More specifically newborns who have poor, single, and young mothers. Adoption can never be anything else but beautiful and an expression of the greatest love. There is no trauma involved when separating mother and child. Any claims to trauma are due to the emotional or spiritual weaknesses of those claiming the trauma. Their voices should be shut down immediately. In fact, God plans for adoptions to happen so there cannot be trauma. He literally plans for one mother to get pregnant, give birth, and for another family to raise the child as their own. God is an active participant in “creating” families this way.
This was the message I began to receive from my parents, pastor, counselors presented to me by my parents, the adoption agency, adoptive families that I was sent to spend time with during my pregnancy, and my Ob/Gyn. Here I was, a teenager who had been caught and shamed because I had sex with my boyfriend. To top it off, I got pregnant and the boyfriend bailed. My parents were respected leaders in the Church. I was an honor student on scholarship. I felt there was an invincible army of adults telling me I was selfish to want to raise my daughter. And who was I? I was just another statistic in all of their eyes. I was told not to become a statistic. Statistics don’t make good mothers. Statistics are selfish for keeping their children in less than ideal situations. Statistics are single-handedly destroying the country. Statistics are the worst option even for their own children.
My daughter was born and I became a birth mom. Not the dreaded single mom statistic, but another kind of statistic that has been a much heavier burden than any mother should bear. In order to survive all of those sorrowful years without my daughter I HAD to believe that God had predestined me to be a birth mom. This was my lot in life. I was a humble vessel and my daughter was going to do amazing things for the Church. I lived by Romans 8:28, “And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.”
I struggled for years. I married someone who treated me the way I believed I should be treated. Then I became a divorcee to boot. I was a hot mess. I drank myself into blackouts more than I could even guesstimate. I even pulled out a revolver one night looking at it in one hand while holding my daughter’s picture in the other. Wondering what story she would be told when she found a grave. Would she even care?
I decided I was the problem. Something was innately wrong with me for not accepting my place as a happy birth mom. In every corner of society, especially Church society, adoption was beautiful, a miracle, the Gospel message in action. Obviously, it was my selfish, sinful nature that was incensed by my daughter’s fairytale adopted life without me. I decided I would study scripture daily. I would be the best Christian I could be. My faith would be strengthened and then I would finally be at a place where I could accept my fate as a birth mom and be proud of it.
For nearly 10 years, I studied scripture daily. I never missed a service. I was involved in small groups, ministries, charities, etc. My faith was stronger than it had ever been. I still battled with my birth mom title, but surely my acceptance of it was on the way. Just a few more years of study and my pride would be broken. Eventually, I would say that I was that brave and selfless birth mom and actually mean it.
Then the bottom fell out.
Enter Paradigm Shift.
My daughter. The one who this was all for. Things began to not add up. I kept having to come up with new ways to make them add up because this whole affair had been predestined by God. Surely, He didn’t make a mistake. The adoptive family that I was told were Christians- my daughter had never been to Church before. Not even once. I began to find out some struggles. Struggles of which I will never tell because they aren’t my story to tell. But all of these new turn of events made me question something I already struggled to believe for almost 2 decades. I spoke to my parents about these new revelations and I was met with “she’s trying to manipulate you.” I was being told that my daughter, with her own adoption struggles, was just trying to manipulate me. Huh?
I began to study scriptures around motherhood, fertility, family, creation, etc. I started this blog to track my journey.
I blogged about scriptures as I studied:
I discovered schemes within the pro-life movement that I had fallen prey to:
I looked outside of my small adoption world and at the adoption world at large:
My conclusion after these 3 years of studying and blogging about it?
God did not plan any of this.
This was not God’s design for my family. For any family.
And there is not ONE scripture to prove otherwise.
My daughter and I have had a reunion in our “open” adoption in recent months. It is going better than I could have ever imagined. It is something that I most likely will never blog about. For some reason, I am very private and protective about the specifics of our relationship. I can’t imagine why?
But our reunion comes with both of our struggles and baggage in this thing called Adoption. We have sworn to never be separated again. I have prostrated myself to her, begged forgiveness, and promised to do all that I can to meet her needs from this time forward. I think we could eventually bridge that deep gulf between us, but it will come with continued grief, regrets, and pain from our years apart. The bridge will be a patchwork of blood, sweat, and tears.
My faith is not what it used to be. I have stepped away to contemplate my worldview.
Perhaps, God is an active participant in our reunion. I no longer feel comfortable claiming any actions of God.
What I do know, is that there is no scripture in the Bible that condones The Evangelical Adoption Paradigm. You could probably say Job 24:9 shuts it down completely, “The fatherless child is snatched from the breast; the infant of the poor is seized for a debt.” Turns out, its just people in positions of power within the Church throwing crap at the wall to see what will stick. Unfortunately, it seems to stick best to those who need it the least; struggling moms and their unborn babies.
So Dear Church, if I was made to be a birth mom, it was by man, and man alone. Not God.