Advent Blessing for Extraordinary Moms

Last Sunday was our annual Advent Tea, and at my table was a woman who had adopted two children. She had heard me speak on Al Kresta’s program about the Extraordinary Moms Network, and said she’d hoped I was still helping adoptive parents. It seems she was looking for a little support involving some changes her daughters were going through right now.

To be honest, I’ve become a bit gun-shy, and haven’t been writing as extensively about the subject of adoption for a while. For one thing, I recently resigned from the board of the foster/adoption agency because I didn’t agree with their recruiting practices, and was wondering God might be pointing me in another direction.

Over the years I’ve sometimes been denounced or outright attacked by others in adoption circles who disagreed with my position on reunification. (I believe that the adoptive bond should remain protected even in adulthood between parent and child, and that biological parents should be able to prevent the release of identifying information if they do not wish to be contacted by their grown children. I have no objection, however, to releasing this information if the biological parents ARE willing to be contacted, and agree that adoptees of all ages should have mediated access to medical information.)

Judging from comments I’ve received on this, and from the prevalence of open adoption, mine is not the popular opinion. I can live with that. What grew tiresome was the necessity of arguing endlessly with highly vocal and often disrespectful individuals who believe passionately that adopted children have the RIGHT to know their birth families. Always. Without exception. Even in cases of rape and incest, as this “Faith and Family” story shows.

And so, for a time I backed off on writing on the subject of adoption, to collect my thoughts a bit more systematically on the subject. To that end, my Master’s thesis is going to be about adoption as a metaphor for conversion — how the fact that the Scriptures speak of God adopting us as His children (Romans 8:14-15), giving us an inheritance we cannot lose (Galatians 4:4-6). The relationship is a permanent one. Here … read it yourself.

But when the fullness of time had come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to ransom those under the law, so that we might receive adoption. As proof that you are children, 4 God sent the spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying out, “Abba, Father!” So you are no longer a slave but a child, and if a child then also an heir, through God.

Just as biological families reflects in a unique way the life-giving love of the Trinity, so adoptive families uniquely reflect the redemptive love of God. Working together, parents and children, we help one another to grow in the perfection God first created in us, the perfection that was distorted by the sinful influence of our first parents.

So today, Rose Sunday, I wanted to share with any adoptive parents out there who are feeling a bit overwhelmed (the extended family time associated with the holidays can bring out other issues in our children, can’t they?), a bit of encouragement. This is my Advent Blessing to you.

You are doing God’s work. Right now, right where you are. Whether that means drying a tear or baking a cookie, creating memories that will always be a part of your child’s story.

Being an adoptive parent doesn’t mean being a perfect parent. If that were true, none of us would be qualified to take any child into our homes.

Being an adoptive parent also doesn’t mean being a second-best parent. You have no reason to apologize for your decision to adopt. Not now, not ever. Your child may never thank you for the sacrifices you’ve made — and in the years to come, their drive to find their birth parents may make you wonder if you’d done everything you could to give them a secure sense of love and identity.

Don’t worry. You have done your very best, and your children have reaped the benefits. Your reward in heaven will be great, for Jesus says, “Whosoever welcomes a child in my name, welcomes me.”

Just as the Blessed Mother had to relinquish her precious Son when he became a man, so the time will come when we have to let go, too. Sooner or later, our children — all children — must make their way in the world, guided by the things we have taught them.

But for now, yours is the unmistakeable privilege of forming your child. Forming him not in your own image, but in the image of the Father who loves us all. One day, sometimes one minute, at a time.

May all the blessings of this holy season fall upon you and your home, today and every day.

Don’t forget … You are an Extraordinary Mom!

St. Martha of Bethany: Happy Feasting!

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Would you like to hear Heidi’s talk on “Kresta in the Afternoon” from the feast of St. Martha? Just click on this link! 

St. Martha of Bethany has always held a special fascination for me — especially since I came across this beautiful image created by the Carmelite Sisters of Reno, who make some of the most beautiful greeting cards I’ve ever seen.  (If you are in the market for notecards, please head over to their website and purchase a few — this one was just eighty cents!)

This afternoon at 3:20 EST, Al Kresta has invited me to come over to the studio and talk about St. Martha, whose feast day we celebrate today. Most people know St. Martha as the sister of Lazarus who was unhappy because her sister wouldn’t help her with the housework. But there is really much more to her than that . . .

Have you ever wondered why — in a culture that saw women primarily as wives and mothers, why two unmarried sisters were living with their little brother without husbands or children. Ever wondered why Jesus befriended them, and was such a regular fixture in their home?  Tune in this afternoon, and I’ll talk about it!

So many people feel detached from God, either through the circumstances of their lives or because of their own perceived sense of failure. When we try to “sedate” that feeling with business, or rigidity, or a need to control, we don’t really get to the root of the problem: a desire to avoid further pain, and to feel loved and accepted at a fundamental level.

Just “knowing” is not enough — the Scriptures show that Martha knew that Jesus was “the Christ, the Son of God,” (John 11:5) a confession for which Peter received a great commendation from Jesus in Matthew 16:

[Jesus] said to them, “But who do you say that I am?”
Simon Peter said in reply, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”
Jesus said to him in reply, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah.
For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my heavenly Father. …”

St. Martha’s confession of faith bore its own kind of fruit, prompting Jesus to raise her brother from the dead — the only time in Scripture in which the Lord acknowledges that person had died (and is not just “sleeping”). According to tradition, Lazarus and his sisters later moved to Cyprus, where Lazarus was appointed by Paul the first bishop of Kittim. This same tradition holds that Lazarus received his palium from the hands of the Lord’s mother.