The Nagging Question

question_mark_signWhat follows is a reflection on adoption that I wrote in an older blog (March 3, 2006):

Previously, I thought that members of the Board of Ordained Ministry (for the United Methodist Church here in the Western NC Conference) were the only people who could ask the same question of me to the point of ad nausem. I was wrong. This post is in a sense, a complaint and a comment. Summer and I are atypical, in more ways than one (insert your own Summer and Chris joke or story “here”) in that we are choosing to form our family by adopting internationally, specifically from Vietnam. With that in mind, the nagging question that I find myself responding to is “why do you want to adopt?” I guess I find it nagging because my response to this question seems to be searching for more words than “just because.” No disrespect to those who have experienced the challenges of infertility…I cannot begin to imagine your circumstances. Yet, I come to adoption as a first choice, not a last resort. Yet, I envy those who can tell their story of trying for years to have their own kids (noting, that the word “own” is problematic). I have no such story…yet, I offer this account of why I want to adopt.

My own father didn’t want me. There is no real way around this fact. No amount of spin-doctoring can change it or make it look better. Now, before folks psychoanalyze the previous statements…I am not transferring anything to my potential and future child. I am not trying to fill some void in my own experience. There is no such void, my mother and sister and well…my family…more than fill any supposed void. To even say there is a void would be an insult to their years of love (and the number of years grow…well annually). Going back to my opening comments in this paragraph, I am not entertaining the notion that I in some way know what it is like to be an orphan…again, I am very much with family in this world. However, in my teen and college years I did wrestle with the question of “whose am I?” In other words, I had to deal with questions of identity and to whom did I belong? This particular came to a head when considering matters of faith. If God is my Father (appreciating that God is greater than gender…certainly much can be said of God as mother…life-giver…etc.) how do I reconcile that with my experience with father (note the lowercase, Heavenly in comparison with earthly). This is where I first came to my understanding of adoption (and relatedly why I want to adopt…my answer to that nagging question).

Adoption I came to see is the first and only understanding of parenting that we as Christians know. This is not to disparage biology, I myself am a product of biology! (As are all children.) God doesn’t think less or depreciate biology, this is evident in the incarnation of Christ (born of Mary…see what I am saying). Yet, if we are the children of God…we are children by adoption. Our heavenly Father extends an invitation to be apart of his family. We are welcomed as we are…our faults…our strengths…our all. Adoption, therefore, is not an unusual way of forming a family. For me, as a person of faith, it is as natural as any other option. Adoption, is a way of thinking theologically. (As a sidenote, I am not always this heady, trust me, this is just a comment, a rant…whatever…that I needed to get out first…so I can move on to further reflections.)