Religious-minded people often praise adoption as some kind of uncomplicated good thing. Conservatives are convinced it rescues babies from abortion. (This is highly debatable to say the very least.) Progressives often assume it rescues them from unliveably terrible lives elsewhere. But the fact is, whatever else adoption may be, it is always, always, about grief. It can also about great joy, but it is always, without exception, about grief.Go read the whole thing! You won't be sorry, though you might want a handful of tissues before you go. . . .
I had wanted to ceremonialize the joy, the love, the moment of making a family across blood -- family with child and family with mother -- but what sneaked in was the other truth about adoption -- the truth that it is not a joy to a mother when she cannot raise her own child. And our daughter’s mother couldn’t and can’t raise her child alone. For reasons that are not mine to share, she simply could never be a mother independent of a great deal of help -- the kind of help adoption alone could offer her in her particular circumstances, in our particular society. But that doesn’t matter. It doesn’t matter one whit whether she could or couldn’t do it herself. All that matters is that on a very real level -- open adoption or not -- she lost her baby the day she signed the adoption papers. And if she had not wailed primally about it before the baptism several months later, I am glad our family -- extended to the church congregation that day -- was able to give her a safe place to let that grief be heard.
Celebrating Mothers' Day: Reflections
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