Thursday, March 31, 2011

The book so far

I mentioned in my last post that I finally started reading the book Adopted for Life, and really struggled with a few paragraphs in the first chapter. Overall I was interested in what he had to say and appreciated where he was going, but when I got to those couple of chapters I felt my defenses go up.

In the first, he said something about only adopting if you are "called" to adopt, because no child wants to be adopted by a family who felt it was their duty they had to do. And, yes, I agree on some level - it is not a second-best solution. But I also cringed at the tone behind his description of being "called" because I feel different than how he described it. Perhaps I am just not there yet, I don't know. But I have been growing in my understanding of adoption and how it could be a part of our lives, and that God may "call" us by aligning our desires for a family with the fact that we may not have biological children - thus he is leading us to adopt. Maybe it just goes back to my motivation to adopt is different because I want to have a family first and foremost, not rescue an orphan. And I again questioned myself - is that wrong?

I kept reading, and came to a section where he told the reader who he was writing this book for: the couple looking to add to their family through adoption, the grandparents hoping to learn about the children's adoption plans, etc. Then he specifically emphasizes the husband who is facing infertility but is resiting because he wants children of "his own." And the wife who is anxiously waiting for two lines on the pregnancy test, but has a stack of adoption agency packets tucked away as a "last resort." And something about the tone of his writing made me feel judged. This led to the melt down on Sunday where I cried with my husband. Thankfully it led to a good conversation between us, and I do think I am insecure about the role adoption will play in our I am overly sensitive. I don't think the book, at this point, was saying anything I disagreed with or was trying to discourage me.

I picked up the book again last night and read more. The next chapter delved more deeply into the theology of adoption, what it means for God to call us his adopted children, and how this metaphor of adoption can be acted out through physical adoption. I had heard sermons and read a couple articles like this before, so none of this was particularly new to me, but I did thoroughly enjoy how seamlessly the spiritual metaphor connects to physical adoption - it is the Gospel lived out. It is beautiful.

However, the following chapter is for the infertile couple....and the friends, families, and pastors of infertile couples. Although I found it somewhat hard to believe, the author and his wife did experience infertility. Of course, every person and couple is different in how they grieve and the directions they move in, but, overall, I found his advice in this section to be very simplistic in addressing the complex emotions and grief of infertile couples. He says he disagrees with the philosophy that it is insensitive to ask these couples to consider adoption, or to point out the sin of "genetic idolatry" as couples wrestle with infertility. In fact, the chapter begins by him describing a couple who comes to him for pastoral counseling in regards to infertility treatments, and his first question is, "Why don't you consider adoption?"

I agree that there is much sin in each of our hearts...and that infertility is not an excuse to let sin reign in our hearts. I have, indeed, struggled with bitterness, jealousy, coveting, despair, and I'm sure many other sins within my infertility journey. And if one of these took hold of my heart and began to flourish there, I would want somebody to "call me out" and point me to the path of hope and joy that is forgiveness in Christ. But I also believe God has been faithful to continue revealing these things to me and moulding me, and often times those sinful thoughts, words, actions, or motivations are intricately linked to complex emotions. The author's advice here to the friends and family of infertile couples strikes me as overly simplistic and dangerous - that it will give license to them to look down on couples who do pursue fertility treatments rather than adopt, and to "call them out" on sin without showing enough compassion to their pain.

He then went on to state his opinion that infertility treatments - especially IVF - are wrong. Ok, maybe wrong is a strong word for what he says, but he certainly doesn't agree with them. Before pursuing fertility treatments, I specifically read four Christian books/ articles that addressed the topic, and came away with three differing opinions: they are wrong, they can be done in a conservative manner (the path we chose), or they fine (I obviously simplified all of these arguments). So I know not all Christians agree with our choices, and that is ok. It is one of those areas that we have to pray about, educate ourselves, and make our decisions - but, clearly, people come to different conclusions within that. And I am ok with this author making his own conclusions, but, honestly, I did not see why they needed to be in this book about adoption. I know this sections was for the infertile couple, so I guess he wanted to throw his lengthy opinion about treatments/ IVF in there to persuade them to adoption rather than treatments...but I didn't like it in here.

Honestly, this whole part of the book really upset me. Of course, I wonder if I am defensive because I am wrong - isn't being defensive often because I am justifying myself and unwilling to see my sin? Am I here? Am I committing "genetic idolatry?" Perhaps one day I will look back and see that the author is more right in this section than I give him credit for, and that I was more wrong than I think....but, today, I just felt angry at his words. And I know so many people who have read this book. I think it is quite a popular book in Christian circles right now, and I hate that this is the ONE view of fertility treatments that most of them will ever read - because they wanted to read a book about adoption, they also got an opinion on fertility treatments thrown at them. And the ONE view of how to talk to an infertile couple about adoption. I feel like I can look back on conversations with people who I know have read the book, and as we talked about my infertility they were probably hearing me through the lens of this book...which makes me embarrassed. My best friend from across the country is literally leaving in a couple weeks to get her adopted son from R.wanda, and she and her husband just read this book....and, honestly, I felt like the way she listened and talked to me two weeks ago was different than before. This was before I had read it, but I had a conscious thought after our conversation that I felt more unsettled rather than encouraged after talking to her. Maybe it was just an off conversation, but I can't help but think she was influenced by this chapter. Now I feel scared to talk to anybody who has read this book, that they are all looking for ways to point me down the right path of adoption.

Again, maybe I am wrong. Maybe my heart is hard. Maybe I will look back and feel "shame" at my thoughts and decisions in this season of life like the author does about himself while they were struggling with infertility. But I know and trust God will be faithful to continue the work he has begin in me - in my salvation and in the area of adoption.

My husband and I have had a few good conversations come out of my riled up rants, and I am thankful that we are on the same page. He wisely pointed out that, based on what I described, the author seems to be trying to put infertility and adoption in a "one size fits all" box that just doesn't work. He also reminded me about when we were engaged and started reading the book As For Me and My House. Like Adopted for Life, this one was very highly rated and popular. However, as we read it, we felt like it just didn't sit right with us at it described the difficulties ahead in marriage. We agreed with the ideas expressed, but the way they were written seemed to take away our joy and excitement of being engaged and replaced it with a little fear and trepidation about what was to come in marriage. We got about a quarter through the book when DH announced rather abruptly that he didn't think we should read it anymore. It wasn't that we didn't like the book or disagreed with it (which is a little different than Adopted for Life for me at this point...), but it just didn't suit us where we were at. We agreed that there will be rough times in our marriage ahead, and that we would remember the book so that we could turn to it as a resource. So we we stopped. This morning DH asked me if maybe this book was like that, and if I should stop reading it right now? I think I am going to keep going, though. This is THE adoption book among Christians, and I think I need to know what is says. And just because one chapter doesn't sit right with me, I think I can still learn and grow from the others. As one commenter wisely suggested, I will try to keep reading it with a grain of salt.

Oh, and I'm also not going to read it before bed anymore because it made me too upset to be able to fall asleep afterwards. Bah. Sorry this is so long - it's proof of how riled up it made me!


Mommy-In-Waiting said...

I'm sorry, the book seems to very bias from my opinion. Only you and your DH know what is right for you. Either way your child, whether your own or adopted, is going to be very loved and very much wanted. Just do what you feel is right and I wish you both all the best=)

Jeanie said...

I am a Christian and have not heard of this book but, from what you say here, I will be sure to never pick it up!! I would have the exact same struggles with it that you do. Since you still want to read it, maybe you could balance it out with another book that is more sympathetic to your point of view? I have enjoyed "Adopting after Infertility" by Patricia Johnson. She definitely acknowledges the hardship of infertility. Just know that you are not alone in not being ready to move on yet!

Leah said...

I don't think you are wrong in feeling how you do, and I don't think you feel the way you do because you see some truth in it.

I love that you don't see adoption as "rescuing" a child. Personally, I cringe when people go at it to "rescue" a child. And as you know I am an adoptive mama, and let me tell you, there was no rescuing involved. I am the one blessed through this. Seriously and truly. I adopted to start a family. That was the ONLY reason. And I feel no shame in that. The desire was placed in my heart by God to be a Mom. And you know what, it wasn't happening biologically. Yet I still wanted to be a Mom.

Also, I think the whole called to adopt thing applies more for international adoption. Of course, this is just my opinion. Most people who go through a domestic infant adoption aren't doing so because of a calling. . . they are doing it to have a child. And there is absolutely no shame in that at all.

I love that you give this all so much thought. Everything you do is done with so much desire to be true to Christianity, and I love that about you. God knows your heart, and from what I've seen of your heart, it's beautiful and pure. And who doesn't sin? Especially when dealing with hardships in our lives.

Thinking of you Hillary, and hoping you come to peace.

Amy said...

I don't really comment on your blog, but I read. First, I would just ignore and look past his comments on infertility treatments. It is just his opinion. I tend to think if God had an issue with fertility drugs than why does he bless so many families with children through them?

We have adopted and I also hate the idea that we are rescuing a child. That just wasn't the case for us at all. Our son actually fulfilled the deepest desire of our hearts - to become parents! I think if you want to "rescue" or help orphans there are plenty of ways to do that without adopting them. I think you MUST want to add a child to your family in order to adopt and have it be succesful.

Anyway, I would keep reading and hopefully you will find something encouraging in his words.

Anonymous said...

I'm a mom to bio children and a child who was adopted. IMHO, wanting a family is the ONLY good reason to adopt a child. If someone wants to "rescue" an orphan, they should write a check! I didn't "rescue" my daughter (I find that concept very offensive). I'm priviledged to be her mom. I think you will be an amazing mom, no matter how it comes about. And kuddos to you for taking the time for such thoughtful consideration of adoption and for allowing yourself to grieve the possible loss of a genetic connection to you child.

andreajennine said...

Hm, I obviously didn't get as far in the book as you did, because I don't remember that chapter at all (and I'm sure it would have stood out to me for similar reasons!). That's disappointing to hear. Please keep sharing your thoughts as you read!

Meg said...

I get frustrated when the Christian community does accept/embrace a book (like the one you're describing)that is written in shallow or judgmental ways.

The author is obviously a sorry counselor if the first question he would ask a grieving infertile couple is "Why don't you consider adoption." Who does that?!?!?

I think you're smart to realize that it's best to step back and not take any of his advice to heart. At least you can educate yourself about what the Christian community is reading and be ready when a hurting infertile who feels judged by this author's accusations comes to you with tears. You'll know how to convey hope instead of shame.

Praying for you.

Anonymous said...

First, I think Amy's conclusion that "if God had an issue with fertility drugs than why does he bless so many families with children through them" is somewhat faulty. If we are to use this logic, then we can theoretically say that God condones illegitimate children... since he "blesses" couples and individuals outside of marriage with children. Just wanted to point that out. I am not against fertility treatments, but I think that just because something works out does not mean it is God ordained.

That said, I feel for you in this journey. My husband and I both have infertility issues, so I know some of that pain and that oh-so strong desire to conceive. We're still waiting for our children.

I do think that Moore might come across as harsh to those struggling with infertility, but I believe that he is only trying to emphasize the change he had in his own heart about adoption. He feels strongly about the cause, and like any person with a mission, he is trying to stop people from walking down the road he took before something changed him.

I hope your family grows, if it is in God's will for your life; whether it is through the miracle of conception, or whether it is through the miracle of adoption... I would say that I would pray for you, but chances are I will forget before the day is over, and I don't like using the term "I'll pray for you" as a trite expression.

Jessica R said...

Dearest Hillary. I definitely don't want to over-simplify the issue, because I know it's complex, but after reading your blog for over a year now, I do want to add something. I think that you aren't giving yourself nearly enough credit. Your heart isn't "hard" - your head is not in the wrong place. You consider everything so carefully and go to God for His guidance in everything - please, please give yourself credit for that. I read what you write about your doubt of your own faith and whether you have a "call" to adopt, and I think to myself how incredible and inspirational your faith and your strength are. So what if your reasons for considering adoption don't perfectly align with this author's? Just because he's a bestseller doesn't mean he's right (see: Stephen Haw.king, Richard Daw.kins). I know we don't know each other, but I do feel that I've come to know a piece of you by reading this blog, and I have absolutely no doubts whatsoever that you will be the most loving, wonderful, caring, and considerate mother, whether to a baby you carry or a baby you choose. You're amazing and I don't think that you should doubt yourself because of what this guy wrote. Build your family however you feel you can. Any child in the world would be incredibly blessed to have you as a Mom.

Joyce said...

I can see why you want to finish the book, but I think it'd definitely be a hard one for me to get through based on your review of it so far!

And personally, I think that stuff about "rescuing orphans" is completely backwards. If we do end up adopting, I don't think I'll feel like I "rescued" my baby - more like the other way around! And I don't think there's anything wrong with that. It's annoying that such a widely distributed book would push that sort of thinking...

It's also extremely annoying that he would TELL people to suggest adoption! Ugh!

I feel like one of the most difficult things about this process is that you almost have to become the world's teacher. Suddenly it becomes your job to educate every ignorant, well-meaning person in your life. This guy is certainly not helping...and don't let this guy get you questioning yourself. If you and your husband do decide that adoption is right for you, you will be AMAZING parents. You guys seem like such sincere, thoughtful, faithful people that I know you will adopt for all the right reasons - whatever they might be.

NLY said...

I think it's important to point out that he is also writing it from a man's perspective. My DH struggles with adoption. He wants a bio child so much he is not willing to consider other ways to start a family. He won't even consider adoption. He truly wants a "genetic heir" (his terms). Although I totally hear you and probably would feel the same way myself reading this book because I struggle with many of the same things you do (I haven't read it) I'm just thinking that it is a guys perspective on IF, which I have found to be so much more black and white, more inside the lines type of processing than what we go through as women. Maybe this is a better book for men who are struggling with adoption?

Missy said...

I also had problems with that book. He has a very limited idea of what it means to be a Christian. You should try reading Inconceivable. It is written by a pastor's wife who could not conceive. Ultimately they adopted, but it is about finding peace in infertility.

Anonymous said...

To Anonymous...

Just a random thought about praying. God doesn't expect for us to just pray after dinner is done and we're climbing into bed...actually you could have prayed for Hillary right at that moment you were writing her a comment. I thought that was a bit harsh.

I do hope in my heart that when people say "I will pray for you" that they mean it with the best intentions and actually do pray.

Just a reminder that you can pray over anyone or anything at ANY time of the day :)

Good luck Hillary and I will pray for you...I have prayed for you before and will continue to pray for you BY NAME. I understand your struggle all too well.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous Anna responding to Anonymous:

I did not mean for my comment about praying to sound harsh. What I meant was praying as a long-term investment... the phrase "I will pray for you," in my mind means more than a simple little prayer; it means a lifestyle in which you remember someone in prayer. I don't believe that prayer should be something that we do only after or before eating or sleeping... and I'm sorry that's how you took my comment.

In my own life I have had people tell me that they would pray for me/us, only to meet me a month down the road and stare blankly at me wondering who I am and why I seem to know them.

So my intention was to let Hillary know that I have been touched by her story, that I feel for her, that I wish her the best...