Tuesday, May 07, 2013

of reunions, clarification, and closure

Maybe you noticed, I am all in a tither about adoption stuff lately.

No?  Oh. Okay, forget I said anything.

I shared the story of my little sister, Tina, reuniting with her daughter last summer. The beauty and restoration found in their story defies my ability to describe beauty and restoration. Their story is only 20 years young, I believe there will be so much more to tell.

Later this summer, my sister and my niece will travel to Haiti together and I will be allowed the honor and privilege of meeting my 20 year old niece for the very first time. (Glass cage of emotion!) My wound-up-tight anticipation surrounding this quickly approaching day is akin to  child-like excitement multiplied by one hundred bags of Pop-Rocks.

My niece was raised by a wonderful and caring family. She had all the benefits and gifts that love and family offer. We honor her adoption and respect her adoptive parents. We also thank God that they did not stand in the way of a reunion between my sister and her first born child. This is Tina's closure; the very beginning of it.

I received an email this week. It called on me to clarify that sometimes adoption is messy and hairy and difficult circumstances lead to the need for adoption. Additionally, first/birth moms cannot easily be "honored" and the stories cannot be told. I was asked to be careful about my call for truth in those circumstances. I was confused because I did not recall writing anything of the sort. I don't assume that every birth family connection can be kept and held close.  I recognize that evil, sin, mental illness, and unimaginable horrors caused by all three can make sharing the entire story a very difficult, if not impossible, thing to do.

I do think know many, many more first families could be honored and trusted with photos and contact. I do know adoptive parents sometimes dishonor first families by withholding information. I do know that adoptive families occasionally decide things are evil that are really just cultural and that their lack of understanding of culture manifests itself in fearful responses. I do know that we fear what we do not understand. But is it an ALL or NOTHING situation?  No. Of course not. I did not write or even imply that all stories can be shared openly with young children or even adolescent children. I don't presuppose that I know what is best for your child.  I know that for my child, open, active, and lively discussion about adoption - about the pain, sorrow, loss, joy, and complexities of it all - is healthy and necessary.

I do think truth is important. Mature young adults deserve to be told their entire story if they wish to know it. Secrets cause darkness and whether inadvertently or by design, secrets result in much pain, resentment, and harm.

I had another kind lady write to say that I am going to discourage people from adopting by talking about the unethical practices going on in International Adoption. She said people will be afraid because of what I am sharing. My offical response to that is this: To oppose evil we must have an ongoing dedication to reality and to truth at all costs. Darkness cannot claim what Light does not surrender.  Not talking about the issues has never been the answer. Nobody will convince me otherwise. I did not say, "Never adopt - never consider it".  I did say, Be cautious, do a ton of research, care deeply about the rights of first families, avoid unethical practices, don't believe websites and fancy Jesus-speak.

I have so much more to say, but I sense that my emotions are running far too high to be writing very much on the topic right now.  I sense that I need to be in a better place before I process these concerns and struggles on the interweb. I've had a front row seat to some pretty terrible stuff lately and I confess it is messing with my ability to be objective. Until I find my peace and my words, please consider the needs of most adoptees to know their heritage, to know their biology, to attempt to find peace with where they came from and who they are.

I believe that we are all children of the Most High God; that we are all "adopted" in our own right... But I know first hand that religious platitudes don't answer the deepest questions of our souls. God loves us, He calls us to Himself as His beloved children, but our imperfect and broken humanness (for which He sent His Son to die) sometimes needs to search for our place in The Story in ways that are far more complicated than a children's Bible song or any religious mantra.

I am expressing things that make some folks feel defensive, I recognize that.  I am sorry that is the case but I believe that in order to be truthful with myself I need to be wrestling with a lot of these things and trying to live honestly in the difficult tension of this truth: Adoption can be redemptive and beautiful AND adoption can be painful and destructive. To claim it is all glory and all beauty is incredibly insensitive to those that have lost much.

Juxtaposition City. That's where I live.
Join me.

~      ~      ~    
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Links to previous posts on the topic:
1- First, Do No Harm
2- Isaac's Family, at Love is What You Do