A Time for Family
Christmas is truly a time for family, and as the holiday draws near, we are reminded of three special kinds of families; those who wait, those who mourn, and those who celebrate.
Those Who Wait
At Abrazo, because of our agency’s commitment to children’s needs, we don’t stockpile waiting families, so fortunately, our adopting couples know that their season of waiting to match and/or place is about 12 months, give or take. (However, that’s small consolation to those who have endured years of infertility, who are in the process of waiting, or who have waiting months or years elsewhere before even coming to Abrazo.)
Elizabeth, the wife of Zechariah and mother of John the Baptist, could surely relate. The couple had been barren for decades, the Bible says, and had all but given up hope that they would ever be blessed with a time for family. And yet, they were faithful to their calling, and inexplicably, Elizabeth gave birth– when she was reportedly 88 and her husband was 99 years old.
One of Abrazo’s most patient parents-in-waiting this year was a couple who just happened to be the most mature members of their orientation class this spring. Having married each other later in life, maybe they knew that the best things in life truly were worth waiting for? They were considered by a number of expectant mothers, but nothing seemed to be moving forward for them, and yet, they never complained. They were always gracious and kind and willing to consider a wide variety of case variables, and so it was that in the season known for great miracles, they have received one of their very own, thanks to the grace of a mother who knew it was they (and not she) that could give her baby all that was needed. Their holiday this year will be spent far from home, as their baby is still in NICU, but most surely, it is a time for family so there’s no place else they’d rather be than with their child, and we hope their story inspires all those who wait still.
Those Who Mourn
Another family who came to Abrazo this year exhibited great courage in doing so, because their adoption journey to date had surely been one marked with grief and difficulty. They initially tried doing a private adoption, which resulted in heartbreak when the mother of the baby whom they had already taken into their home elected instead to reclaim her child (something not allowed in Texas adoptions.) They had to mourn the loss of the baby boy they thought was meant to be theirs, before they found the courage to try again, resulting in the placement of a precious daughter whose adoption left her birthfamily necessarily mourning their loss. Along the way to finding their beloved new son in Texas through Abrazo, they also suffered the loss of an unsuccessful pregnancy, and they had to mourn the loss of what might have been in order to achieve the glory of what truly was meant to be.
The Scriptures are full of stories of parents who endured great mourning, although the best known, surely, is that of Mary, mother of Jesus. Already a widow by the time of her Son’s passing, she is referred to in Latin as “Mater Dolorosa” (or “mother of sorrows.”) She surely knew the sorrow of feeling that even her own fertility was out of her control, and she too was required to travel far and stay away from home after becoming a parent, not unlike our adoptive families who must await Interstate Compact approval to go home with their new babies.
And like Mary, whose son went off on his own search for answers in the temple as a youngster, adoptive parents must also endure their own uncertainty and fears when their children go searching for their own answers in life.
Abrazo is mindful of the others who mourn this holiday season; the birthfamilies we have been blessed to know, the forever families in Abrazo’s community who have suffered the deaths of loved ones, the adoptees who long for connection, the hopeful adoptive couples for whom matches have fallen through. This is surely a difficult season for them, yet we lift them in our thoughts and our prayers, we support them in spirit, and we know that in time, like our adoptive family who has endured so much to get where they now are, there is truly a time and purpose for every season in life, and there are brighter days in store for them, if they can but keep the faith and stay focused on their goals.
Those Who Celebrate
Just as there is a time and season for every purpose under Heaven, there are also surely reasons to celebrate adoption, even as we acknowledge the collateral losses that each adoption entails.
This week, Abrazo witnessed the coming together of two families, as a young mom the age of Mary at the time of Jesus’ birth made an incredibly wise and selfless choice for her child’s future. The adoptive couple had started their adoption journey knowing little of what to expect, but they approached the process with an open mind, and although they felt they’d gotten a slower start than others, as it turned out, everything unfolded right on time to lead them to be found by the birthmom who surely needed them most. They couldn’t be more grateful for her and for her parents, and the newborn those families now share could not be more loved by all of them, which surely is something to celebrate.
When Abrazo’s staff walked into the hospital room to do paperwork with them this week, it was the adoptive dad who was holding the baby, and the look on his face said it all. Being an engineer, when they started the adoption process, it had been he who seemed most skeptical, and who asked all the hard questions. Because like a carpenter named Joseph many centuries ago, who was likewise faced with huge responsibilities of figuring out unknown details to provide for his wife and child, he had been too apprehensive to celebrate the journey, until it led to such a time at which celebration was rightfully called for.
The Bible says that Joseph was a man of integrity and righteousness, and says little else about his parenting style, but we do know he lovingly adopted Jesus as his own son and passed down his own trade, teaching Jesus what he knew about carpentry. We imagine Joseph to have been a somewhat serious, quiet man who was faithful and diligent and not given to raucous festivities, but rather, the kind of father who would have celebrated his children’s achievements in the privacy of his own home, smiling fondly at others’ mention of their attributes, and ruffling his kids’ hair proudly with his calloused hands in an understated show of pride.
And that is, truly, the sensitive sort of celebration that goes on in Abrazo’s adoptions. The days that follow placement are a time for family to spend together; both the family that places and the family that adopts, celebrating with joy and pride the child they now will forever share.
Every adoption is borne of loss, which requires us to be mindful of the emotions of others in our celebrating, and yet, any time that mutual love for a child drives parents to do the right thing for the right reasons, it is something to be celebrated, for every child whose needs are met is one less child who goes without.
This Christmas, all of us at Abrazo send out our very best wishes from our Family to yours, and in the year ahead, we wish you health, happiness and a time for family (plus plenty of it.)