I love adoption. I am passionate about adoption. I am blessed by adoption. I look at my adopted kids and know it is a miracle that "I" get to be their mom.
Yet I have a confession to make, and I am kind of embarrassed to admit it. I often forget that at the expense of my miracle, there was a birthmom who was left empty handed.
When you adopt from the foster system, it's easy to dismiss your child's birthmother as simply 'unfit'. Because after all, that is why their child was taken way. You get to just tell yourself that they didn't 'deserve' to parent your child and leave it at that. Truth be told- it is easy that way. A clean sweep. They are unworthy and you- you went through all of the training, you went through all of the inspections, you were fingerprinted, homestudied, background checked and APPROVED. You have the mounds of paperwork to prove it. With excitement you move forward, dreaming and praying of your new little miracle.
Yet behind the scenes there was a woman who brought your child into this world. A woman who has probably faced more than most of us could ever bear to in this life. A woman, who for whatever reason- yes, made a lot of bad choices. I can't pretend to understand or agree with the decisions that were made. But neither do I believe it's fair for me to judge her when I have no idea what the day to day, minute to minute life was like for her. I have no idea the things she faced, the things she went through- to get to a place where she would choose drugs over your child. To a place where she would physically harm her child. Or to a place where she would just simple walk away. But one thing I do know is that she is a human being- and God loves her- so I need to as well.
This past Friday Addisyn, Kal, Mya, Aleigha and I were blessed by serving along side others from our church at a homeless shelter.
As the men, women and children slowly began to drift through the door of the dining area, I couldn't help but notice that many of them had the same look of hopelessness in their eyes. It seemed as if it was an effort to put one foot in front of the other to even make it through the day. At the end of a long row of tables there was a lady in a bright yellow shirt with writing across the front sitting alone. Trying to do my job as best as I could, I mustered up the courage to say hello. My intentions were to just, you know, go through the motions of getting her a glass of water, throw a smile her way and continue on my way to the next person. Then I would greet them with the same plastic smile in the same way. It seemed safest that way on my part.
Yet, there was something about this woman in the bright yellow shirt that drew me in. I noticed her name tag read Vivian and I noticed a hospital bracelet that said the same. And then I noticed the tears in her eyes, the look of pain etched into her face- a look that spoke volumes. I found myself unable to move away.
Almost as if in slow motion I pulled out the folding chair next to her. Vivian straighten herself, eager to have company. In her right hand she gripped a white paper napkin, almost as if it was her only security. At first eye contact seemed difficult. Yet as we began to talk, I reached out for her hand and she looked me directly in the eye- and deep into my soul. Vivian shared parts of her story with me- parts that caused the pain she carried with her today. For you see, Vivian had three children removed from her care. Three children who had been placed and adopted into another family through the Foster system. Three children she brought into this world and loved with her entire heart. And yet, despite that love, lost, due to mistakes she made along the way. While it was clear to me, and even to Vivian, she was indeed not able to care for her children properly, my heart couldn't help but break. Her life had been an endless cycle of abuse of all kinds, failure, lies, rejection and loss. Yet I knew that Jesus loves her, despite the sin.
Sometimes we don't have to have the answers. Sometimes all we have to do is show up and take the time to care. I cannot change the circumstances of Vivian's life. But what I can do is show her the love of Jesus- just as she is.
I left there that day knowing that God wanted me to see things in a different way than I had before. I left there that day able to forgive.