This past Sunday we attended an evening church service and heard the most awesome sermon, called "It May Not Be Your Fault, But It Is Your Problem". I am not going to recount his sermon on my blog. You can listen to it (or other sermons) at this link : Sermon
The reason I am bringing this up on my blog, is that this is one of the best adoption sermons I have ever heard. I don't believe this pastor intended to target the adoption community, but it is a sermon Jerome and I have preached over and over again to our children. In fact, when we arrived home Jerome asked the children if anyone had ever heard that sermon and there were several knowing nods.
As I am sure any parent knows, we do not sit down with prepared "sermons" in hand to recite to our children, but there are overriding themes that we have continually returned to discuss. Bitterness and acceptance and forgiveness being a few. Let me give you a taste of what I mean.
"Why do I have to work so hard and not my birth mom?"
My daughter asked that question somewhere around 4 or 5 years of age while we were headed to a therapy appointment to deal with Reactive Attachment Disorder. Pretty insightful for a preschooler. It is certainly not her fault that she was neglected to the point of rejecting all physical touch and eye contact. It is not her fault that she arrived at my house with a twisted belly from hunger. It is not her fault that she was full of lice. We do not know what else happened to her in that birth home, but she was wary of men and informed my husband early on (at 2!) that "I know where you sleep." As if my husband should be on his best behavior since she was watching.
None of these things are her fault, but they have most certainly been her problem. We have had many conversations about her worthiness. She has always been worth love and care. She had to learn how to make eye contact, and how to accept appropriate physical touch. Most heartbreaking of all, she had to learn to smile and laugh. Have you ever met a two year old who could not smile and never laughed? She had to learn to trust that we would always feed her and never leave her. I called her my "mariposa" -- the Spanish word for butterfly. I would tell her she was in a cocoon now, and it would hurt to break out, but one day she would fly free like a butterfly.
Part of flying free is forgiving her birth mom and accepting what is true of her childhood, including being adopted into a family that had, at that time, no experience of traumitized children. We did a lot of things wrong (and still do), but we loved with all we had and never left our post. No, none of these things were her fault, but they have been her problem to overcome.
"My Adoption Was a Mistake"
I have two children that were adopted from Africa. It has been hard for one to deal with the idea of being adopted. Something must have been a mistake -- if another family member knew they would have taken her in instead. Something's wrong. Part of what was wrong was cultural. In her culture of origin, talking things out, explaining, airing feelings -- these are just not done. So she and her brother were taken to a foster home, voluntary relinquished for adoption to the United States and she was not told much at all. Nine months later, she was on a plane to our house. She has had various ideas that maybe we bought her, or somehow we cheated someway to get her. It got to a point that I took out all of her legal adoption papers and showed her that our dossier and matching acceptance were all signed after her relinquishment. She was not relinquished because we were waiting. She was waiting and we took her. The most difficult moment was showing her the signatures of various birth family members that were informed and agreed to her adoption. She was sure that they didn't know and would have rescued her if ....
It is not her fault that she had a difficult relationship with her birth mom. It is not her fault that she was born in an impoverised, war-ridden country. It is not her fault that there was no father for her or her brother to help provide, but her half-siblings did have one. It is not her fault that she left behind her beloved half-brother and a baby half-sister. No not her fault at all, but certainly her problem.
Again, we are forced to deal with what is, to face the truth head on in all of its ugliness. To know it, to accept it, and to finally move on to forgiveness. If this is not done, the awful abyss is bitterness. Oh, how she has danced on the edge of this pit.
I have six adopted children and these are only sketches of two. They all have a story, they all have "big stuff" that is not their fault and it is all their problem. However, the awesome thing about Jesus is that he wants all of our problems. That's awesome, but what is amazing is what he does with them when our fingers are finally pried off the problem we cling too. He transforms, redeems and uses that problem for the glory of God.
I tell all of my children that I don't know why things happened, but I know what they should do with it now. They have to go right through the pain of it, and allow God to redeem it. In John chapter 9, there is an account of a man born blind. Not only was he born blind, but people where wondering whether his blindness was caused by his sin, or his parents sin. He was always under suspicion; as apparently were his parents. He didn't do anything to make himself blind, but it was certainly a problem he had to live with and deal with everyday. However, when Jesus came, we learn that "... the works of God should be made manifest in him." (John 9:3). His problem was cured -- he was no longer blind, and the glory of God was revealed and the man received his salvation and worshipped (verse 38).
I would never desire that my children should have to live through the horrors that they have already lived through, but I will always desire that the "works of God should be made manifest" in their lives. In most cases, the works of God -- the glory of God -- shines through the brightest in our darkest places. So I, and my children, are left with this; there was darkness, but glory, glory, there is a light brighter than any darkness that will come when they accept their problems, forgive their offenders and worship.