A few years ago, the day before Mother’s Day, a woman innocently asked me about my plans for celebrating the woman who brought me into the world. If only I could have given her a simple answer. But for me, and many like me who are adopted, such inquiries often bring forth a mix of emotions—joy, sadness, gratitude, and loss—that can be difficult to articulate.
You see, holidays like Mother’s Day and Father’s Day, while honoring the sacred bonds of family, can trigger complex emotions for adoptees. We’re reminded of the absence of our biological parents and, simultaneously, the loving presence of those who chose to make us part of their families. It’s a blend of loss and gain, sorrow and joy.
So, how can we as adoptees gracefully navigate these emotionally charged holidays? And how can the church community provide a sensitive, supportive space for this mixed bag of feelings?
The Sacred Space of Grief
It’s important to remember that adoption, while filled with love and beauty, is also born out of loss. As adoptees, we’ve faced the distressing experience of losing our biological parents. Holidays like Mother’s Day and Father’s Day tend to bring these emotions to the surface.
Yet, it’s not only okay but healthy and healing to allow ourselves to grieve during these times. Lament can exist hand in hand with celebration. This godly sorrow, distinct from worldly despair, is a form of grieving with hope, confident that our Heavenly Father sees our pain.
The words of the psalmist ring true for us, “But you, God, see the trouble of the afflicted; you consider their grief and take it in hand. The victims commit themselves to you; you are the helper of the fatherless” (Ps. 10:14, NIV). We can bring our losses to our Father, trusting in His compassion and love.
Rejoicing in Blessings
While we may grieve the circumstances that led to our adoptions, Mother’s Day and Father’s Day also serve as reminders of the profound blessings we’ve received. These are days for us to celebrate the selfless love of our adoptive parents and to revel in God’s goodness.
“Sing to God, sing in praise of his name, extol him who rides on the clouds; rejoice before him—his name is the LORD. A father to the fatherless, . . . God sets the lonely in families,” (Ps. 68:4–6, NIV).
These holidays offer us a chance to celebrate our families, who chose us out of love, and to reflect on God’s grace in placing us in loving homes.
Hope in the Eternal
The journey of adoption reveals the delicate nature of earthly families while foreshadowing the stability and permanence of our eternal family in Christ. Our future with Christ offers solace when we’re grappling with the frailties of earthly families.
Our Heavenly Father reassures us, “Though my father and my mother forsake me, the LORD will receive me,” (Ps. 27:10, NIV). His promise rings even louder, “Can a mother forget the baby at her breast and have no compassion on the child she has borne? Though she may forget, I will not forget you!” (Isa. 49:15, NIV).
The Role of the Church
On occasions like Mother’s Day and Father’s Day, it’s crucial for the church community to remember that not all family situations are identical. Some, like adoptees, may struggle to share in the pure joy typically associated with these celebrations.
How can we then, as a church, better support those wrestling with such complex feelings? Recognize adoptees and others who may find these holidays challenging, and offer prayerful support. Anticipate the needs of these individuals in your church and be ready to lend an empathetic ear or comforting word.
So, if someone were to ask me today about my plans for Mother’s Day or Father’s Day, my answer would be a testament to my journey: “I’ll spend some time praying for my biological mother, allowing myself to grieve her absence. For my adoptive mother, I’ll be expressing my love and gratitude, celebrating her unyielding presence in my life.”