Adoption: Purpose in the Problem

Adoption: Purpose in the Problem

Most readers don’t automatically think of the word “problem” when contemplating adoption. On the contrary, the majority of people I speak with about my work as an adoption counselor tend to lean towards the warm and fuzzy…telling me what “great work” I’m doing or how they admire people who adopt. While these statements are backed by a degree of truth and good intentions, they do not take into consideration this idea of adoption being a problem. Bear with me for a moment while I attempt to explain myself further…

Many years ago, I worked with an adoptive family who should really be the poster child for all things good and admirable in our world. They truly epitomized what some may refer to as a “calling” to be adoptive parents. They heartily said yes to a pregnant woman who had had zero prenatal care throughout her pregnancy, was routinely homeless and was also a heroin addict. (She did manage to stay clean during her pregnancy, however.) This family exuded compassion, strength and genuine hospitality throughout the entire match and placement process. Even as their adopted daughter grew older and her birthmother remained aloof, they continuously prayed for her, said kind things about her to their daughter and never once passed judgement on her lifestyle. In their minds, this birthmother gave them the greatest gift of all: the gift of being parents.

During one particularly memorable post-placement visit with this family, I remember asking the adoptive parents about their unusual perspective. Their explanation was simple: There was a woman who was pregnant. Her baby needed permanent, stable parents. They were a couple who had experienced difficulty conceiving and possessed a large capacity to give and love. They saw this situation as a problem that presented an opportunity for all involved. In other words, everyone’s pain and loss were actually the portal for healing and joy. A birthmother’s sacrifice to remain clean just long enough to give birth was the window through which a beautiful little girl came into the world. A couple’s infertility was the gateway through which adoption became possible. I have always loved this couple’s perspective on adoption because it recognized the grief involved, while choosing to believe that very grief was the mechanism for birthing their greatest blessing.

Life is certainly fraught with hardship and I will be the first to admit I do not always understand why; however, when it comes to adoption, at least, perhaps we could all benefit from this family’s lesson of hope and joy in the midst of what could have been their biggest problem. (By the way, this couple went on to adopt two more children—three total—who had special needs.)

S. Groff


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