All three of our children came into our family through adoption. One Sunday, when Rachel, my youngest of three kids was just a couple weeks old, we sang Oceans during worship. I’d never really attached to the song like so many other Christians that I know did. But that morning, the song fell on me fresh.
“Spirit lead me where my trust is without borders / Let me walk upon the waters / Wherever You would call me / Take me deeper than my feet could ever wander / And my faith will be made stronger / In the presence of my Savior.”
I couldn’t get the phrase “trust without borders” out of my head. I love when God does that. I love knowing He can take words I’ve heard hundreds of times before and make them sound brand new.
Trust without borders.
That’s what I want, in all areas of my life. But I had been thinking about my relationship with Rachel’s birth mom, Stacy. I was no stranger to open adoption, however the post-birth interaction with Stacy was different than our other two experiences. My emotions about the grief intertwined with joy in adoption spill over more easily now.
In those weeks right after Rachel’s birth, I wanted to mother my baby’s birth mom after she confided in me via text and trusted me the details of her life. We got together for the first time since the birth, for about an hour, at a local coffee shop not long before Rachel’s first Thanksgiving.
In those days while we were waiting to finalize Rachel’s adoption, Stacy and her boyfriend were having trouble. Emotions and drug use compounded already dire circumstances. Without going into details of various situations, for their privacy, and because I don’t know the whole story, the boyfriend ended up in jail for about a year and Stacy later unexpectedly lost custody of her two kids.
I love these people and I was heartbroken for them. I directed her to counseling and prayed for them all. I wanted to buy her groceries, help her find a job, and encourage her to do what she needed to do to regain custody of her two kids. With my third baby in my arms, I didn’t know what that meant for my relationship with Stacy.
Stacy told me how those first months after the delivery were difficult for reasons related to adoption, in addition to all her other circumstances:
“The first couple of months were very hard and I didn’t know how to get past it. I was scared Rachel would feel like I abandoned her, but what helped me was knowing this was part of God’s plan and He brought all of us together for a reason. I missed her, but I knew it was the best option for everyone and that’s what was most important.”
We were brought together, and I wanted to be there for her. Prayers may not seem tangible, but they’re gifts. Giving her money or groceries or a ride somewhere is easy compared to navigating an actual relationship. I’m open to having a relationship with her even though I have absolutely no idea what that will look like. I’m guessing it’s always going to look different from season to season and from any other relationship I have.
I believe this is where God called me, so I need to go there. And I can only go there with God. My human self wants a plan and details for the future. But when I trust the One who orchestrated this relationship, my faith becomes stronger and deeper, and going into the unknown becomes possible.
I’m the kind of girl who wants every relationship I’ve ever had to remain. I want to be friends forever with everyone. As I’m growing up, I realize that isn’t how every relationship should be. Adoption magnifies that with its unique relationships, but it also opens the door to a ministry of being able to help someone in a way not otherwise possible.
This may have been our third adoption, but I saw this generosity in adoption in a new light.
Our adoptions are open in the sense that the birth moms know our names and have our contact information. I send updates about the kids and I’m Facebook friends with two of them. But after the babies were born and final papers signed, we all settled back into our lives. The conversations between us are fewer now and we don’t make plans to show up at appointments together anymore.
Stacy wanted monthly visits after Rachel was born, which was fine with me. In Rachel’s first year, we saw each other five times and then again when Rachel was about eighteen months old.
In a booth at Subway, I watched them together when Rachel was eighteen months old. I saw a beautiful, striking physical resemblance as Rachel shared Stacy’s Doritos. Their circumstances and life situations are vastly different, but their eyes, nose, and smile are the same. Even though people are always amazed at how my family physically fits together, I’m grateful to see evidence of their connection, regardless of what happens with our relationship as Rachel, who is now 2 ½ years old, grows up.
My continued relationship with Stacy brings to mind Psalm 68:6 which says, “God places the lonely in families …” I realize how true that is. Yes, God has placed our three children who needed families in our family. But he also put these birth moms in our lives. They may not do everyday life with us, but they’re prayed for regularly and remembered gratefully.
Because of adoption, they have someone else on their side in life.
Obviously, all adoptions are different. Another family’s story may not look like ours, but they all involve generosity. For as similar as our kids’ adoption stories are, the relationships we have with their birth moms are the biggest difference.
My oldest, Cate, who is 11, has met her birth mom and will likely see her again in coming years. Rachel has been held by her birth mom more than either of my other two, but at this point, that’s not something she will remember. Then in the middle is my tender-hearted boy, Ben, who is 8. He doesn’t ask questions about adoption like his big sister does — maybe that is God protecting Ben’s heart. While I have a relationship with his birth mom, Leigh—he doesn’t at this point.
With anything, the future is unknown, and adoption is no exception. We have open relationships with all three birth moms, but what those relationships look like now vary and that’s likely to be the case down the road. These are the kinds of differences that are hard to explain because there are no black-and-white answers regarding human emotions.
But one answer remains true: God chose these three to be in our family. He chose Greg and me to parent them on this earth. And He has adopted us all into His kingdom — which is far greater than anything we can cling to on this earth.
As we sang Oceans and I held my third-born baby, I realized I too often try to tie my faith up in a box with a pretty bow. My relationship with Stacy is just one example. I’ve been there, hesitating, in a million other ways in marriage, motherhood, my daily life, our mission trip to Guatemala, and so many moments between.
Faith isn’t always tidy. Sometimes it spills all over the place, bringing us to God in a new way. Our faith takes us places that are messy, but God goes with us, bringing beauty from those ashes.
Kristin Hill Taylor believes in seeking God as the author of every story and loves swapping these stories with friends on her porch. She lives in Murray, Kentucky, with her husband and three kids. She writes regularly at kristinhilltaylor.com and shares her favorite stories of becoming a family of five in her book Peace in the Process: How Adoption Built My Faith & My Family.
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