My kids look like me.
I know, most people can say the same thing. But, for us, it’s always a topic of conversation because it comes as a shock that my children were adopted. Yet, for whatever miraculous coincidence, my children favor both my husband and me. I like to joke that it’s what happens when you feed them long enough. They just sort of become mini versions of you. Truthfully, they probably favor us more in their mannerisms than their looks—like how my son mimics my husband’s squinty smiles or how my oldest daughter opens her mouth and my words and phrases tumble out. We have friends who’ve adopted transracially, and yet their sweet sons and daughters still pick up their parents’ little quirks.
Our children “match” us, though, and people always shake their heads in disbelief that they didn’t come from my womb. Then like, clockwork, they say the phrase I hate: “Well, they’re so lucky to have you,” and internally, I cringe. Because, while well-meaning and kind, these people have no idea that they’ve gotten it all wrong.
My kids didn’t get lucky—I did.
Adoption doesn’t happen without loss. No adoption would exist if sin and sickness were not a part of the broken world in which we live. No child becomes available to be adopted without some sort of trauma or loss or heartbreak involved.
My kids didn’t get lucky when they were born into difficult situations that mean that their biological mothers and fathers were unable to raise them. Luck wasn’t a part of that teen pregnancy or incarceration or drug use. Luck isn’t a factor in any of the myriad of reasons a child comes into protective custody or why a birth parent feels compelled to make an adoption plan.
My children won’t feel lucky when they begin to process the complexity of their identity, or when they try to comprehend that they were neither unwanted or unloved, just innocent kids in the midst of difficult situations. We didn’t swoop in to save them. We came along and changed everything they knew. They didn’t see us and instantly find comfort. In fact, they lost the familiar voices and sounds, foods, blankets, and schedules to which they were accustomed. Our arms were different arms hugging and holding them. Sure, we can and do celebrate their adoptions and encourage them to view themselves as chosen and cherished. Yet, we also must acknowledge the pain, questions, and loss that, at least in part, defines who they are.
They won’t feel lucky when they are asked questions about their “real” mom or dad, or when they inadvertently hear an adoption joke on the school playground. They won’t feel lucky to have unanswered questions on medical history forms as adults.
We’re the ones who are lucky. We were the ones who, due to nothing but grace and a little hard work, get to call them our own. We’re the lucky ones because out of all the people on this planet, somehow, God blessed us with the opportunity to be their parents—a role and responsibility not to be taken lightly. The fact that my husband and I are the ones they reach for when they fall and the ones who get to enjoy the late night snuggles and early morning giggles is nothing short of a miracle. How is it that the love that emits from my son’s big blue eyes is meant for me? Why did I get to be the one my daughter wants when she doesn’t feel well? All the joys of mothering these kids belong to me.
The truth is that my kids’ tragedies are my gain. Without the losses they’ve endured, I wouldn’t have the honor of motherhood. So, to say they’re lucky feels pithy and pretentious. I know the “they’re so lucky” comments aren’t made with hurtful intentions; no, quite the opposite—they’re meant to be complimentary. But, we didn’t adopt for compliments. We didn’t adopt to be called good people or to earn praise. We adopted in obedience to God—to answer His call and build our family through His design. And it is in that obedience that we received His blessings.
Next time you see us, please don’t tell us how lucky our children are. Instead, acknowledge how blessed we are. Remember that we are the lucky ones.
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