I know it's always good to care for children who do not have their biological parents [James 1:27]. However, I've struggled a bit with how right it is for us to accept a child to raise while their parents are still living. I do realize most of these children are being saved from the atrocity of an abortion. However, I feel there is a fine line between a person who finds themselves in a situation they did not ask for and someone who made (sometimes habitually) decisions to engage in activities that lead to children knowing full well they lack the resources to care for those children.
Again, responding to what I've read in 'Dear Birthmother' by Kathleen Silber and Phylis Speedlin, I read over and over that the birthparents simply want something 'better' for their children. They want their child raised in a comfortable home with a loving mother and father. Who doesn't want that? But here's my issue...please read this excerpt:
"I realize he's your son now. We all have played such a vital part in his beginning. I gave him life and then I gave him to you. You will shape that life and make him into a fine young man. I am so glad he has you. I am so glad you're there for him. I couldn't have found two better people to be his parents if I had done the choosing myself. After he was born, I started believing that God does work in mysterious ways. He gave me the son I had always dreamed of. Then He made it possible for me to give my baby a family. Something I wanted so much for him to have. And He gave you the child you wanted so much. I'd like to think God planned this from the very beginning."
Now, God certainly can use anything to work out His plan. Based on almost every account recorded in the Bible, He enjoys using the broken, weak, small, and lost to do incredible things; it brings the glory to Him. However, I have a problem with thinking giving a child to be adopted is ever 'really' "His plan from the beginning". (if you really wanna split hairs, God’s plan from the beginning was shot in the foot as soon as Eve had herself a little snack, but I digress…)
I don't fret about this for my sake, but for the birth-parents. How much should I really encourage/enable them to give me their child when I feel like I 'should' be encouraging them to create an environment that would enable them to keep and care for their own child? I know these women spend, ideally, months in counseling before the birth of their child to determine if adoption really is the best option. I have to have faith that they understand what they are doing.
I'm having a hard time articulating exactly what's in my heart, so stick with me...How can I tell, and is it really for me to know, if someone is giving their baby away because they would otherwise abort the pregnancy, or if they just don't feel they can afford a baby or give them a 'stable' life? How do they know God didn't give them that baby to do something amazing in their life? Perhaps making the selfless decision to give their baby to someone who desperately wants one IS the something amazing?
The only biblical example I can think of is Moses' birth. First, his mother selflessly sends him off in his basket, trusting God to spare his life. Then, when he is found, Pharaoh's daughter sends for Moses' own mother to look out for him until he was weaned, probably two or three years! Now, every example from the Old Testament has to remain in the context of God bringing His plan of salvation to the world, so not sure I should read too much into that example. However, I know the practice of wet-nursing was fairly common for hundreds of years. Also, thinking about people who employ nannies to essentially raise their children...Plus the idea of boarding schools...are you not sending your child to be cared for by another? Are these concepts really so different from an open adoption? It may very well be that I'm putting way too much into this...Proverbs 22:6 says 'start children off on the way they should go, and even when they are old they will not turn from it'. Whichever way a child comes into my life, 'starting them off on the way they should go' is really my only job and concern. Right? I hope so.
Here's another gem that kept me up for most of a night...again a quote from the book previously mentioned:
"The realities of adoptive parenthood”
1. Adoption is a lifetime experience.
2. Adoptive parents will never totally parent their child; and adoptees will never be totally parented by their adoptive parents.
3. Birthparents remain a part of the adoptee's life.
Number 1 – sure, I got that.
Number 2 – say what now?...you wanna bet? (feel free to picture the best 'momma-bear' face you can imagine right now)
The book goes on to explain in this way:
“There are no first or second-best parents in this human experience. There are only adoptive parents who can never give their biological heritage or genetic future to their child and birthparents who cannot raise a child born to them. Both sets of parents in reality experience an incompleteness and loss. The child, in turn, can never be parented by one set of parents. He needs the adoptive set to provide the nurturing and shaping part of parenthood. He needs the biological set to provide genetic past and future.”
One may say, well the nurturing and shaping is really the ‘most important part’…ok, then how come people spend HOURS on Ancestry.com? Because we want to know where we came from! It IS important! So, before my over-defensive response completely ruined my entire night of sleep, I recalled one phrase from orientation, “we’re not talking about co-parenting”. I have to keep telling myself this when I begin to feel defensive. We are not co-parents, but the birthmother/parents will ALWAYS be a part of my child’s life whether through their presence or their absence. Period.