I’m a Christian.
I’m an adoptee.
Adoption was not.
God’s plan for me.
I originally posted these thoughts on instagram, but was reminded that these words were helpful. Needed. So I’m sharing them here, free from the leash of a social media algorithm. If you’ve found this helpful, please share.
…has often been that adoption is God’s plan or that it is meant to be. The logic flows from the belief that
For example, if I love my adoptive family or love the life I have now or can see God using my adoption story for the healing and wholeness of others…
Then my adoption must have been God’s plan from the beginning!
And with that belief, a whole host of troubling logic can follow:
Does God desire our suffering?
We’ll say, “Of course not…”
…and then start the mental gymnastics to justify the brokenness and trauma that makes adoption possible to begin with.
The answers we come up with to maintain that adoption is God’s plan and yet, family separation is not, tend to cause more confusion. Christian answers to this tend to fall flat, especially for the adoptee who realizes they cannot pray their pain away. We cannot pray our trauma away.
How could God have wanted me to experience this lifelong trauma?
How could God have been OK with my first family’s suffering and pain?
When we try to validate this view of adoption, we skew our view of God.
gives us a better view of adoption.
What we believe about God shapes what we believe about ourselves and the circumstances we are in.
We can believe that God has a good and pleasing will for us and yet God also allows us to make choices (freewill) that differ from or conflict with His will.
Theologians call it God’s Perfect Will vs God’s Permissive Will.
Perfect will is what God desires; e.g. our salvation and collective restoration.
Permissive will is what God permits; e.g. human choices and consequences.
Family separation and adoption is a result of human choices; e.g. the mom’s decision to relinquish or an orphanage’s policy of adopting out a child even though they know their family is alive.
Often these human choices are made within the context of larger, man-made issues; e.g. poverty, war, religious stigma or social pressure, etc.
Family separation and then adoption might be something God allows to happen, i.e. its God’s permissive will. That doesn’t mean God pre-ordained any of it.
If something good comes from family separation and adoption, that is only evidence that God can always create beauty out of brokenness; not that God planned or desired brokenness.
Sometimes adoption has positive outcomes for an adoptee; they grow up in a loving home and have access to opportunities they wouldn’t have otherwise.
Sometimes adoption has tragic outcomes for an adoptee; they grow up in an abusive home with less love and support than they would’ve had otherwise.
These disparate outcomes are proof that adoption stems from human choices.
This is also why we cannot say (child) adoption is gospel; because if the gospel is not good news to everyone then it is good news to no one.
Adoption is a result of human choices, not God’s plan. We need to be careful not to put God’s name on OUR choices, as if they were God’s perfect will, just because there are some positive outcomes sometimes. This is taking God’s name in vain.
The Bible shows God carrying out a plan for the restoration of all creation through Christ. God is able to take what we meant for evil and use it for good, incorporating our hurtful or just unhealthy choices into the timeline without altering the outcome; that is God’s perfect will.
God’s perfect will is restoring our relationship with God and with one another and with the earth. It is wrongs being righted, broken things being mended and lies being exposed so that truth can restore us, heal us and make us whole.
God’s perfect will is that we will care for the orphan & widow, the poor & the foreigner, in such a way that families never need be separated, but will have their needs met, so that they, too, can be restored, healed and whole.
I’m a Christian. I’m an adoptee. I don’t believe adoption was God’s plan for me.
Adoption was a human attempt to make the best out of a difficult situation.
The results are mixed and ultimately, there is a great deal of pain.
That pain was not on purpose. That pain does not need to have a purpose.
I do not need to put a spiritual spin on that pain to believe God is good or to give God credit for the good things that have happened in my life.
God does not rebrand my pain, but gives me Christ, who is able to enter into it with me. Christ knows abandonment and rejection and displacement.
God also gives me purpose in my pain, to help me heal as I help others; which, again, is not evidence that my adoption was God’s perfect will but that my restoration is.