I once believed that adoption was my weakness. I no longer think this true. Adoption has become my strength.
There was a time in my life when I thought of myself as fragile. I had been internationally adopted out of foster care, as a child. I viewed myself as broken. After all, I questioned, what parent would leave behind a child that was whole? There must be a kind of brokenness about me. I was convinced that the shattered pieces of me were the driving force behind my parents’ decision to walk away. I had done something wrong. I must have committed some sin that mom and dad could not forgive.
That’s a heavy burden for a little one to carry on her shoulders. Yet, I did. I carried it; this feeling of brokenness followed me everywhere. Many adoptees describe this feeling as loneliness: a sense of chronic loss and alienation. It’s a sensation of being different and of never quite fitting in.
Adoption is a life-long journey, and a part of that journey often involves navigating the fallout of abandonment. An adult adoptee recently wrote to me that, “You never get over abandonment. You live with it. The scars are always there. You have lost something that can never be returned to you.”
For countless adoptees, these types of feelings get buried until the pain becomes unbearable: a pain that will surface without warning — sometimes sabotaging relationships, dreams and goals. Trust doesn’t come easy. Joy seems like a distant fairytale. Sadness takes root, settling within the deepest parts of self.
I understand this struggle, intimately. I know, all too well, this companion called sadness. Yet, as I have grown in my faith — I have been awakened to a truth that was not shared with me as a younger person: we were created for joy. Each and every one of us was made for joyful living. This does not mean that we won’t face difficult times in our lives, or that people won’t let us down. No. It means that living inside the walls of sadness is not a natural state of being. It means that weakness is a lie fed to us in order to silence the inherent voice of joy.
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