Hearts Wide Open

I’ve had a mind to write about real mothers for some time now, which seems to follow logically on my series of entries about mothers as containers. Although real mothers are not defined by biology, I’m going to begin by writing about adoption, for few topics can be as useful (or incendiary) in teaching us about real love. One has only to read the story of Solomon’s decision recorded in 1 Kings 3:27 to see how real love works: a real mother will put her child’s life above her own. The real mother deserves love and loyalty, because these are qualities she has sowed into the life of her child. Since I believe in a just God and a just universe, I don’t see any way that a false mother can ultimately receive sustained love or loyalty from a child to whom she never gave these.

Although I’ve sworn off most adoption blogs, from time to time I follow adoption-related links I find on the blogs of people I respect. This gets me into trouble, as all too often such purposeless meandering takes me straight into the path of an adoption wreck, where I find myself rubbernecking at the carnage like the most gauche sightseer.

Take, for example, a line penned by an adopted adult in protest to an upcoming MTV airing of an adoption-related story:

Make no mistake, abandonment/adoption IS child abuse! As human beings we are all entitled to be loved and welcomed into this world by our mothers (and fathers), and then to be raised by them. [. . .] If you really want to do an adoption story, how about focusing on adult adoptees who are searching for their real families.

Or, this, written by a birth mother I respect, even love (insofar as it’s possible to love a person one merely reads) and whose blog I read regularly:

Adoption is harmful [ . . .] There is everything wrong with separation.

I have written before about why I relinquished. I haven’t really understood why women would now. There are so many options. Society is fairly accepting of single mothers. Abortion is legal and safe.

Leaving, for the time being, the issue of whether it’s better to abort one’s unborn potential child or give it up for adoption, I want to focus first on one of the questions most commonly asked of adopted people and adoptive parents, “What about your [or the] real parents?” This is an interesting question, because it equates biology with authenticity, even though many people raised by their biological parents share no emotional or psychological affinity with them; and many people who were adopted feel as though they were born into their adoptive families. In fact, we all know what we mean when we say, “She’s a real friend,” yet somehow we confuse ourselves when adoption is involved. We no longer know what a real, good, authentic mother or father is.

Why is that?

In spite of our confusion, the question is valid. We have many stories of people who say that they never felt at home in the arms of their adoptive parents, many stories of adopted adults who searched for and found their birth families, and in finding them felt for the first time in their lives that they had found a home, deep down in their innermost beings. I recently read the account of a reunion in which the adopted adult wrote so poignantly about her feelings about being with her birth mother and half sisters that I wept. I don’t doubt her experience for one moment, and I don’t know how any feeling person could, upon reading her sincere account.

What bothers me, though, is the one-sidedness of people’s judgments, of the stories they tell themselves to explain the “why” of these things. All is seldom as it appears or is assumed to be in adoption from any side. I’ve met few people who are adoption involved who are aware, awake, enlightened, open-minded, and brimming with love at the beginning of their adoption journeys; and so I find that many adoption-involved people are unbalanced and have perspective problems. In fact, what I’ve most often encountered in the adoption world are people oozing with gaping wounds-wounds of infertility, of estrangement, of failure and shame; wounds of “I didn’t know / I shoud have known / How could I not have known? / My God, my God, why hast Thou forsaken me?” and wounds of never having a home inside one’s heart or inside the arms of one’s mother. These are wounds of so much substance that it’s no surprise to me that many adoption-involved people never gain much perspective, but instead find it easier to hunker down into a mindset that provides the props that enable them to keep limping along.

But, oh, how I wish we would cast aside our crutches and run the way of love! I certainly do wish that we would open our hearts wide up, and stop restraining ourselves. If only we had more examples of unrestrained love, love with a wide-open throttle, as St. Paul implored:

Our mouth has spoken freely to you, O Corinthians, our heart is opened wide. You are not restrained by us, but you are restrained in your own affections. Now in a like exchange–I speak as to children–open wide to us also.  2 Corinthians 6:11-13 (NASB)

 | Photos by Chinua |

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