But one of my concerns is that even when we're careful, our children won't get the distinction, especially when they're young. And then when they are old enough for that level of abstract thought, we've already red-threaded them into silence. After all, if it was all "meant to be," doesn't it remove the ability to be sad or angry or confused or ambivalent, to express any less-than-happy emotion? You were meant to be mine, God chose you for our family, there's a special reason you're in our family, your adoption is part of God's plan -- all of these strike me as ways to make adoption inarguably positive -- and when it's inarguably positive, no dissenting views are allowed! A child may internalize that view, and then feel unable to work through the dissonance it causes when they also have feelings of pain and loss. And they may feel they can't talk about that dissonance with their parents, making it even more difficult to work through it.
I think many parents see the "God's plan" theme as comforting, giving children a sense of belonging, of certainty that they are where they belong -- in their forever families. I get that. But I've also heard from many adult adoptees that the God's will/destiny/karma/red thread justification is painful, not comforting (see, for example, here and here ("One doesn't have to say God spent a lot of time getting rid of one set of parents just so another could benefit.")and here ("Saying that adoption is God’s plan is like saying that amputation is God’s plan.")). Of course, not all adoptees are alike, so this reaction is not universal. Sherrie Eldridge, of Twenty Things Adopted Kids Wish Their Adoptive Parents Knew, has a new adoption book (published January 2009) out that is completely God focused: Questions Adoptees Are Asking. The title of the book made it seem right up my alley, but turned out not to be! There's a poem at the front called "The Beautiful Braid of Adoption," that says that God created the beautiful braid called adoption, and then describes the adoptive family as "chosen to nurture that God-given gift passed on from the birth family." That gets another "ick" from me! (And I'm kind of tickled at the idea of APs who've HATED Sherrie Eldridge because they didn't want to acknowledge the pain and loss of adoption suddenly LOVING her because she talks about adoption as God's plan!)
In a comment to a post about adoption as God's plan at Third Mom's blog, I said:
We "credit" God with adoptions in ways we simply wouldn't tolerate in another context. Imagine someone telling a widow, "God [fate, karma, etc.] intended your husband to die and for your children to lose their father so that you could meet this NEW man and marry him, and so he can father these children now." I think the widow and her children would have every reason to punch that someone in the face. But tell an adoptee that, and they're supposed to be overwhelmed by the love of God?! I don't think so.
So to sum up my problems with the karmic argument -- it has great potential to mask the pain and loss of both birth families and adoptees, to silence the expression of that pain and loss, and actually distance children from the God who would allow such pain and loss. I understand those who see God's hand or fate or destiny or karma or purim in all things, who see this as just another why-do-bad-things-happen-to-good-people problem that adopted kids will just have to deal with. I'm not trying to change anyone's mind on the issue. This is just a head's up to enter the issue with eyes wide open.