I had a conversation last night with a friend of mine who is a foster mom, and after our chat, I couldn’t sleep. I want to talk about something that may be hard to talk about, but it has irked me for some time. There is so much I could say about this, but today I’m focusing on people of faith, specifically Christians, and the flippant use of God’s name associated with adoption. Maybe this is something you struggle with too? Maybe it’s just me. I’m okay with that.
As an adoption professional and a follower of Christ, I am in a lot of circles that spiritualize everything in foster care and adoption. They “PTL” (praise the Lord) this and “God’s plan” that. And here’s what I think every time someone does that…GET HIS NAME OUT OF YOUR MOUTH!!!
Why? Because I feel like they either don’t understand foster care/adoption, or they don’t know God.
Here’s the thing. Adoption is born out of great loss. As a birthmom, I know this well, and when I hear the bandaid of “God’s plan” go over the wound of childhood trauma, well it makes me sick. Where is the space for this child’s loss if we are covering it with our ‘spiritual’ makeup? Why do we feel the need to dress up and ugly situation? How do we honor the deeply ingrained need for love and belonging if we don’t recognize the depravity involved for these people? And HOW can we PTL and think that will sit right with anyone involved?
I wonder if our (people of faith) need to make these hard stories in line with God is rooted in our need to make God okay inside our own mind.
I mean, what would it mean if God was both good and allowed this kind of evil (childhood abuse, neglect, abandonment, trauma, etc.) to co-exist? How can I have great faith if I can’t explain everything He does? And when I can’t, I better have a pre-rehearsed, pre-loaded, disconnecting phrase like “Let go and let God” or a trite Jeremiah 29:11 up my sleeve to splash the pot with. Is that not what we are doing when we disregard the brokenness of the situation–gambling with God’s identity?
I don’t think that Jesus, who experienced trauma and did not praise God for it but asked that it not happen to Him, cried out “Why have you abandoned me?” in the midst of it, would agree with our flippant (dare I say blasphemous) use of His name in regard to the blatant, heart-breaking loss that these children experience throughout their lives. I think it grieves Him greatly. I think He would weep with them.
I wonder if we can do the same? I wonder, what would happen if the next time you encounter a child separated from their first parents you just listened? I wonder, what would happen if you sat with a caregiver at the end of her rope and didn’t offer her anything but your presence and your ear? I wonder if you would experience the heart of God in a new way, broken for this world? Can God really break our hearts for what breaks His, if we are busy covering up what we fear are His errors by misusing His name?
When we consider how we can care for widows and orphans and “orphans” (a.k.a. people whose first parents are still alive but get deemed orphans for the publicity of someone looking to make money or make themselves look better than they really are), I think we should begin with the knowledge that this loss for these lives is heartbreaking. I think we should holster our faith-words-weapons and hold hands. I hope that we can be brave enough to mourn with those who mourn and sit with those who give care and listen to those who grow up and speak and teach us how to love better.
Let’s come alongside this community in a way that breeds life and connection. Where words are insufficient, love never fails. Choose love.
Image: Mark Rothko, No. 61 (Rust and Blue), 1953, oil on canvas