If you think our family is big with 10 kids, you have only seen the tip of the iceberg. Because with each child that comes to our home, there is another family that is forever linked to us.
Some adoptive parents are often threatened by birthfamilies. Of the many struggles I face, this one is not one of them. From the minute I met the "other" Moms as we fostered our children before adopting them, I was filled with love, compassion and a connectedness that only a few can share. Birthparents hold a part of our children's lives that we do not. They were there the first 9 months and in some cases more. They hold the genetic link that we do not have. They may have other children that are siblings to our kids. I am thankful that I can say to my kids "Wow, when you smile, that reminds me of your birthmom." or "You love to write poetry just like me and just like Jennifer--all three of us share that."
Not all of our adoptions are open. Each adoption has a unique openness level that we have prayerfully considered to be appropriate for the situation. We have several adoptions that are closed and have only a little information regarding birth history that we received at placement. Another adoption is very open and we have shared birthday parties and holidays together...
Today, we visited a very special birthmom to us. She and I share the same birthday, yet I am certainly old enough to be her mother. She is mom to another little boy who is almost 2 years old and is doing beautifully. She is a good mom and working hard to make a future for her and her son. She loves the son we share with all her heart. Circumstances at his birth and first year of life made it difficult to meet his extraordinary medical needs. My heart breaks for her to know that she is separated from her little boy. Yet, I know clearly that God had this plan laid out for Elijah before he was born. We are thankful to have an opportunity to keep the boys connected and to be able to stay connected to extended family as well. Elijah is a sick little boy--the more people to love him in his life, the better.
People often say that it is too confusing to have birth parents involved in their children's lives. And for some, that might be the case (Remember many of our children cognitively stay at a much younger level for longer than most and this gives us some more time for openness.) Certainly, we maintain boundaries and those change depending on the child's age and on the emotional state of the parents. But one thing that is never confusing to a child is to show love and compassion to those in need. I believe that by praying often for birthfamily and by extending grace and forgiveness to those that are brokenhearted and often without hope, we will teach our children that it is not who are parents are but who are God is that gives us hope. We don't put a lot of emphasis on "blood" relatives because frankly, it is not the way we view things. We could not have "made" a baby more than I could fly to the moon. My birthchildren are not mine--they are on loan from God. I didn't create them-God just used the genetics he invented to create a unique child of His. We may be able to "predict" with little certainty what type of temperament, eye color or height might be in our birth children but our birth children are no more "ours" than our adopted children.
One message I strive to convey to the birthparents we have in our life is that we love them without judgement. Let me never worry about that speck in someone else's eye while that plank is stuck in mine--We are all sinners in need of a Saviour. We are not "better" than they are because our sin is not so visible. Only by the grace of God are we able to do this task of raising a big family like ours--we are SO not capable of doing this on our own. It is only through God as He gives us strength each day that we are able to walk this path.
I want our kids to know the same message I need to hear...it does not matter who our earthly parents are. There is no favor with God because we may or may not come from a family who is well respected, godly or homeless and drug addicted. It takes faith to become a friend of Jesus...not who you know or what family you came from. We are all in this together...making our way to the foot of the cross...