So I'm at the Y this morning, in the little back room where I normally do my strengthening exercises for my physical therapy program. (I'm doing better! So grateful the chronic pain is subsiding.) The room is somewhat divided by a large, free-standing petition wall, and on the other side of the wall is the personal training studio. And as I'm laying on my mat doing my silly looking leg lifts, I can't help but hear a group of 3-4 women hee-hawing in the personal training studio next door.
"Oh, I hate Dr. Oz! My mother-in-law listens to every word that man says like it's the Bible!" one woman blurted out, which was quickly met by a cacophony of voices. Somehow the conversation then led into a lively recap and analyzation of last night's episode of The Bachelor. (which I actually enjoyed hearing because, I'll admit, I've recently been sucked into the ridiculousness of that show...go ahead, roll your eyes.)
I grab the exercise ball next to me and begin another set of reps. And my ear perks up when I hear one of the women say, "I don't know, I think I'd like to adopt one day. I think it'd be really neat."
I wasn't expecting to hear the ladies' unanimous reaction to that statement.
"Oh, I don't think I would ever adopt," one quickly spouted off.
"Do you know what kind of emotional problems those kids have?" the next gal said.
"I know a family that adopted and the girl has severe, like, OFF-THE-CHARTS bipolar and now they're having to pay for all this girl's healthcare," another shared.
You could almost hear them all shuddering at the thought. Adoption....
(Poor gal who was just sharing her heart, only to get knocked down by everyone surrounding her.)
Suddenly the conversation was lost when the super-fit diva working out next to me began panting so incredibly loud(!!) from all of her exertion in her whatever-you'd-call-them exercises. Another lady was perched on her exercise ball, facing the wall and doing crunches, which then made loud rubber-ball-against-a-wall noises. Shhh! I was thinking. Don't you know I want to hear this conversation? Such a voyeur, I am.
At the end of Panting Lady's next set of jumps, squats, and leaps, the women were still swapping stories about adoptions gone wrong.
"...and it was her ADOPTED sister, not her biological one, that..." blah blah blah. One woman then wrapped up the conversation with a concluding statement about how, "You know? It's just better to have your own biological children than to adopt because you just know what they'll be like."
Really? Do you?
Is that what these women would tell a mother of a biological child fighting leukemia or cancer? Did they know what they were signing up for when they conceived? Do biological children not also struggle with severe bipolar and emotional issues? Is adoption to blame for every struggle in a child?
At the end of the day, does biological vs. adopted really matter?
Though I was more than finished with my exercises, I went back to my leg lifts, deep in thought.
Now, I'm not naive, and I don't want to paint a picture of adoption that is only rose-colored. I've written many times about how the adoption triangle is born out of deep pain on all sides, and how it (similar to the Gospel) can bring redemption out of the ruins. Every adoption is different, though. Different circumstances, different expectations, different cultures and countries and ages, and different kinds of people involved. Some times there will be an amazing bond, and others there won't.
But isn't the same true with biological families, too?
What I wish those women could've acknowledged is that "biological" child does NOT equal challenge-less and misery-free. (maybe that's what's good about adoption-- perhaps you're more prepared for there to be challenges??)
Often we hear the crazy stories about adoption that seem more intense and heartbreaking than many of us can imagine or think we ourselves could handle. And they scare us. Those stories reveal the deep crevices in our hearts where the desire to be safe and to be comfortable reigns above all else. And if being safe or comfortable is the god we worship, adopting a child (or even having one biologically, for crying out loud!) would never be an option. Too risky. Too uncomfortable.
I'm so thankful Jesus didn't think that way when he went to the cross. He could've looked at all of us hopeless, messed-up, fatherless kids and said, "No way." He was greatly afraid, actually. He even asked His Father if there was any other way these children could be rescued apart from his suffering. But his love compelled him on. To redeem his little ones and adopt them as His sons and daughters.
Adoption isn't comfortable, just as having biological children certainly doesn't call for a life of comfort, either. Raising children is HARD. WORK., no matter who's tummy they come from, right? (though adoption does pose some additional issues that biological parents don't have to intentionally address)
But just because something is hard doesn't mean we need to shy away from it.
Just because something is uncomfortable doesn't mean we should walk away.
When love compelled the Savior to rescue His children, it can certainly do the same to us in adopting our own.
I wish those women hadn't placed so much distinction upon how a person got into the family. "That was the adopted sister," they had to specify. Now, we don't walk around proclaiming our children as "the vaginal birth child" or "the cesarean birth child," so in some sense, does it matter how they GOT there? The point is that they're THERE now! And that makes them FAMILY. The label doesn't matter.
I have days where I'm overwhelmed by my children's differences and all the challenges they place upon us as a family. But my friends with biological kids have their days, too. My kids won't have issues just because they're adopted- they're going to have issues regardless, because they're KIDS.
But somehow, the Lord gives each of us the grace to handle the specific challenges that He brings into our families to grow us, to strengthen us, and to extend His purposes if we receive them as such.