Young People Ask . . .
Why Did I Have to Be an Adopted Child?
“It’s like living with a permanent disability. It’s an ailment of the heart that can’t be fixed.”—Robert.
THAT is how one man, who was given up for adoption at birth, describes his life. He continues: “Practically every day of your life, your heart yearns to know answers to questions like, Who is my real family? Where are they living? Why did they abandon me?”
Chantial, whose father was adopted, laments that she does not know who her biological grandparents are. She says: “I feel cheated because of not having the association of my uncles, aunts, and cousins.” Not all adopted children feel this way. But some do. Why?
A Cause of Anger
Learning that one has been separated from one’s biological family can send a child into an emotional tailspin. Catrina, who was adopted at an early age, says: “I had a problem with rage because I didn’t understand why my birth mother gave me up. I felt that my mother was abandoning me because I was ugly and unlovable. If she would only give me a chance, I knew I could make her proud of me. Every thought of my birth mother only increased my level of anger.”
Catrina’s relationship with her adoptive parents likewise came under great stress. “I felt that my adoptive parents took me away from my real mother,” she says. “So I took my anger out on them.” Yes, anger is sometimes a reaction to having been put up for adoption.
Such anger can be dangerous. Sometimes, as Catrina’s case suggests, you might tend to vent your anger in the wrong ways or take it out on the wrong people. The Bible counsels: “Let anger alone and leave rage.” (Psalm 37:8) How is that possible? Well, God’s Word also says: “The insight of a man certainly slows down his anger.” (Proverbs 19:11) Insight into your own situation may help to ease your anger. How so?
Correcting False Assumptions
Insight can help you to examine the assumptions that fuel your anger. For example, if you were adopted, do you assume that your biological parents must have given you away because there was something wrong with you? That was how Catrina felt. But is that always the case? It may be impossible to determine what motivated your parents, but there are good reasons to avoid such a negative assumption. After all, why do parents usually give children up for adoption? Often, they feel that they have no other choice.
Consider the example of Moses. The Bible account in Exodus chapter 2 tells us that when the Egyptian Pharaoh decreed genocide against male Israelite babies, Jochebed kept her infant son, Moses, hidden for three months. Finally, hiding was no longer possible, but she could not bear to see her child executed. So “when she was no longer able to conceal him, she then took for him an ark of papyrus and coated it with bitumen and pitch and put the child in it and put it among the reeds by the bank of the river Nile.”—Exodus 2:3.
Abandoning her child in this manner was no doubt a very difficult thing for her to do. But what choice did she have? Her love for her son prompted her to do what she thought was best for him. Interestingly, her daughter stood guard nearby and remained until she saw that her baby brother was safely picked up. She may well have done so at the request of her anxious mother.
Of course, not all cases of adoption are prompted by such clear-cut emergencies, but motives are often similar. Robert says: “I was conceived out of wedlock. Raising me would have put a heavy burden on my mother’s household, since there were other children in the family. She may have reasoned that it was in my best interests to give me up for adoption.”
Granted, there are many reasons why children are given to other families to raise. But as these examples illustrate, it is not necessarily because the mother hates her baby or sees some defect in her child. In many cases, the mother sincerely believes that the child will be better off if raised by another family.
The Value of Being Loved
Gaining insight may help you further when you think about why you were adopted. Consider again Moses’ example. In time, “the daughter of Pharaoh picked him up and brought him up as her own son.” (Acts 7:21) What motivated Pharaoh’s daughter to extend her protection to a child she knew to be one of the condemned Hebrews? “Here the boy was weeping,” the Bible says. “At that she felt compassion for him.” (Exodus 2:6) Yes, Moses’ adoption was the result, not of his being hated or rejected, but of his being loved.
Many adopted children come to realize that their biological parents did not simply abandon them—although that happens all too often these days—but presented them to some agency that would ensure that they would be cared for properly. And their subsequent adoption occurred because someone loved them enough to undertake their care. Might something similar be said of you? Focusing on the love you have received and valuing it can help to ease any pain you may feel.
Furthermore, you may receive love from others besides your adoptive family. If you are part of the Christian congregation, you can enjoy the benefits of having many spiritual mothers, fathers, sisters, and brothers who love you. (Mark 10:29-30) Christian elders can “prove to be like a hiding place from the wind and a place of concealment from the rainstorm, like streams of water in a waterless country, like the shadow of a heavy crag in an exhausted land.” (Isaiah 32:2) Do not hesitate to seek out mature fellow Christians and confide in them. Let them know what is on your mind and in your heart.
Robert feels that it is important to develop strong ties within the Christian congregation. “The emptiness I feel is still there,” he acknowledges. “However, the love of my spiritual family pushes it off into a little corner of my heart.”
You Can Succeed
So resist false and negative thinking. That includes the notion that success in life might somehow elude you because you were adopted. Such negative thoughts can prove very discouraging! (Proverbs 24:10) Besides, they have no basis in fact.
Remember, Moses made the most of the opportunities afforded him. The Bible says: “Consequently Moses was instructed in all the wisdom of the Egyptians. In fact, he was powerful in his words and deeds.” (Acts 7:22) More important, Moses took in spiritual instruction—so much so that his heavenly Father, Jehovah, was entirely real to him. (Hebrews 11:27) Did he succeed in life?
Well, Moses later became leader of a mighty nation of perhaps three million or more. He became a prophet, judge, commander, historian, mediator of the Law covenant, and writer of the first five books of the Bible. In addition, he is generally credited with writing the book of Job and Psalm 90. Yes, Moses lived a very successful life. Many adopted children similarly succeed, and so can you.
Robert successfully raised two children and is currently serving as an elder in the Christian congregation. Looking back over his years as an adopted child, he says: “I have learned not to keep dwelling on what I can’t fix but to be grateful for the blessings I have.”
If you are presently living in a foster home or have been adopted into a family, negative thoughts might assail you at times. But try to replace them with positive ones. Philippians 4:8, 9 promises that “the God of peace will be with you” if you “continue considering” things that are pleasing to God. What, though, are some further practical steps you can take to succeed while living with your adoptive family? A future article in this series will address that question.
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Your being adopted is evidence that someone loved you enough to take you in and care for you