By Guest Blogger, Andie Pellicer
We have been on the road to adoption for a long time. We have had heartbreak and setback after heartbreak and setback, and to be honest, I wouldn’t wish that pain and disappointment on my very worst enemy. Waiting is a labor of love, a risk, and a worthy pursuit. Waiting is also a phenomenal teacher and I have learned many lessons over the last ten years.
When our family started our adoption process, we knew nothing about domestic adoption. We were trying to adopt internationally and we chose the country that we did specifically because we were told that there was a high probability of meeting and keeping in contact with our child’s birth family. It would likely be an auntie, a grandparent, or a sibling, but it was a biological connection we could offer to someone who was being asked to leave their family and country of origin and continue their life with a bunch of Americans. We LOVED that. We anticipated that. I prayed that when we were matched, when we got to the tippy top of the 50-person wait list, that the child we would be paired with had relatives we could hug. I wanted to hold another person in my arms who had loved our child for their whole life and convey that we would love that child, too. It felt important. I dreamed of the moment when I could pledge my loyalty to them as a family, to our shared child, and to their heritage. That moment never came. After waiting for several years, our prior agency told us that we might never get our turn. International adoptions had slowed significantly and we were still so far down the list that by the time our turn came, at least five years would have passed.
We were devastated. Our family mourned the child who would never come. As a mother, I was broken by the missed opportunity to honor another family’s roots. Enter: Domestic adoption. Through a random conversation with a friend, I found out that birth parents actually choose families when they choose not to parent and I was floored. I had no idea that open adoption existed here in the U.S., and when I found that out, I was IN. My family was IN. Hook, line, and sinker, we jumped at the chance to grow our family not by one, but by many. The opportunity to share the love for a child had once again presented itself and I feel deeply honored, protective, and flat out soap-boxy about the birth parent/adoptive parent relationship. I think about the moment when we get our “call,” knowing that someone would see value enough in us to enter into this commitment together. To the future parents of our child: We love you and I write this for you.
As a waiting family, we get all sorts of opinions and comments about our decision to adopt. Some are supportive, others are ignorant but harmless, and still others are down right inappropriate. The ones I will not abide, however, are the ones that do not respect the importance and dignity of birth parents in the adoption relationship. Birth parents are beautiful, magnificent, selfless individuals who are faced with what may be the hardest decision of their life. They are intrinsically valuable and worthy people who are created in the image of a wildly loving God. They are also the undeserving recipients of adoption stereotypes and that absolutely has to stop.
Christians pursue adoption for a thousand reasons, but what I hear cited to me time and time again is James 1:27— “Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.” Listen, I get that the idea of pure and faultless anything is appealing, but looking after orphans and widows does not directly translate to adoption. It was written as a call to compassionate protection of the vulnerable in the world. It was a reminder that God isn’t interested in harshness, empty promises, or unchecked anger, but instead wants us to look to the well-being of those who need to be surrounded by love and support. For too long, the Church has romanticized adoption without thinking about both the unmatched strength and weighty vulnerability that it asks of birth parents. We see the words “orphan” and “widow” and forget that those are stand-in terms for people facing loss and hardships. Trying to decide between parenting, abortion, and adoption is a hardship and with that decision comes loss. Birth parents are facing what may feel like an insurmountable event in their lives. They should be deeply and fiercely cared for by those who claim to follow Jesus and those who take James 1:27 seriously.
Birth parents deserve our respect. They deserve our compassion. They deserve our admiration. As adoptive parents, they deserve for us to protect their stories and to uphold them with love and dignity as important members of our families. That is the beauty of open adoption relationships. It is an expansion of our hearts that can bring opportunities for deeper love, purpose, and commitment to all involved.
If you want to support adoption because you believe it is a biblical concept, I invite you to find creative and meaningful ways to support and embrace birth parents. In my family, we are doing that by praying for our future baby’s first parents every single day. We are doing that by working with an agency that advocates for birth parents. We are doing that by choosing open adoption. We are doing that by refusing to let anyone, and I mean ANYONE, paint our someday baby’s birth parents as anything but generous, brave, beautiful people who will face a hard, hard choice. You want to care for orphans and widows? Care for the birth parents in your life. If you are fortunate enough to know one, be proud of them, and ask God to give you the same strength and grace they show each and every day.
If you are pregnant and need support, here are pregnancy resources:
9 Things to Know About Adoption In Oregon and Washington
You may also like some of these great adoption resources: