Why Humility Is An Essential Component in All Adoptions

When you figure out that humility is essential in all adoptions, some things are easier to accept.

Natalie Brenner October 22, 2016
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We quickly learned that humility is an absolutely essential component in all adoptions. Anytime we chose pride, fear, or entitlement, we found ourselves in a place of anger or deep devastation. We found ourselves feeling as though something was taken from us; the problem with that was: it wasn’t ours to begin with. Every time we chose humility, we found ourselves in a place of selflessness and love. It is easy to love others when you are walking in humility. And if you are not striving to love others through adoption, whether it be the birth family or child, maybe it is time to reevaluate your beliefs surrounding adoption.

Situation after situation of expectant mom and a baby due to be born, we presented with hopeful hearts. We heard “no” on multiple occasions, over a dozen times. “She chose another family,” was more often in our inbox than not. When finishing up our last home study visit, our social worker told us she would be surprised if we were not matched within two months of being active. Surprise: we were not matched that quickly.

Becoming irritated and angry at the process, frustrated at agencies and social workers, disappointment building toward expectant parents who chose other hopeful adoptive families are easy snares to be caught up in. “No” after “no” feels like a rejection of yourself, making you question what is wrong with you and your family. Resentment may build. Your heart may harden as the years pass and you are still waiting for that official “yes.”

It is a freeing thing to remember that expectant moms (and their families) do not owe us anything. They do not owe us their child. Their child is their’s until rights are relinquished.

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Maybe you’ve heard or believe this misconception: “Open adoptions seem unhealthy, weird, and confusing for the child. Will he even know who his mom and dad are? That WE are his mom and dad?”

We said those words and asked those questions a year before we officially began the journey of adoption.

The more we read research articles, the more we heard from adoptees, the more stories of healing and wholeness we uncovered from adoptive and birth families, the greater our understanding became.

We soon recognized how beautiful, good, and beneficial open communication in adoption is, for all involved in the adoption.

We realized how closed minded we were in wanting only a closed adoption. We realized it stemmed from a place of unnecessary fear and jealousy, from false beliefs and entitlement.

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When we were matched with our already-born son through a whirlwind of 24 hours, we did not have the funds (read our incredible adoption story here). We were in a place of desperation, needing the help of everyone we knew and more.

There was no time for pride or fear: we had to ask everyone to help us bring our son home. The village that came together was one of the most beautiful depictions of love I have ever witnessed. We had to ignore our insecurities of asking other people for help, we had to humble the pride that fought to bubble up, and we had to move forward in humility. If we didn’t, we wouldn’t have our son home with us now. There is no way we could have financially made it happen without others.

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Our son is black. We are white. We quickly learned that becoming a transracial family came with another beautiful layer to uncover.

There are major racial tensions in our country and we could have chosen to ignore them, to put up walls of defense and claim that “white privilege” is not a thing. We could have responded in a lot of negative ways. Instead, we found ourselves thinking, “This is not about you. This is about your son and the race he is a part of. You must listen and you must learn if you want to love him wholly and celebrate all that he is.”

When we chose to adopt transracially, we chose a path of forever learning. At the heart of learning is humility, because it is admitting that we don’t know it all. It is confessing that we are not experts, especially when it comes to living in America as a person of color. We are reminded time and time again, that we must listen to the experiences of people of color who have grown up in America because our son will be living that story: a person of color, growing up in America.

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These are just a few quick snippets of our journey. As we chose humility through the journey of our adoption, we were blown away by the peace that resided in our hearts.

When we decided not to allow anger to take precedence in our hearts with every “no,” we then realized how much hope we had for each and every expectant parent/family and child. We soon began meeting expectant moms with the mindset of, “If she does not choose us, we are okay and will be confident that this was not our baby. We will trust that our baby will join us when the time is right. In the meantime, we are able to pray for this baby and this expectant family.”

Yes, it is sad every time you hear “no” and a loss if the expectant mom decides to parent (if your adoption “fails”), but you begin to realize that adoption is about finding families for babies/kids, not kids/babies for families. You come to the peaceful understanding that adoption is not about you.

When it came to communication between us and our son’s birth family, it took humility to realize that birth families are composed of humans too. They are not evil, they are not out to get you, they are not going to hunt you down and “kidnap your child.” Allowing our heads and hearts to process the reality that expectant moms and dads are choosing to sacrifice their own desires and wants of smooching, snuggling, and parenting this precious child so that their child can live a life they are unable to offer. We realized how extremely loving birth families are. We saw their bravery, courage, and selflessness.

As we uncovered that truth, we realized once again: adoption is not about us. So, not only is it honorable to communicate with your child’s birth family as they wish, but it is also beneficial on many levels. If they are trusting you with their child, (in most cases) you can trust them with your email or phone number.

Financially, the fees that accompany adoptions tend to be hefty at best. A lot of families are unable to tackle this on their own and it takes humility to invite a village to surround you. Humility says, “This is not about me, this is about becoming a family for a child and we cannot do it without you.”

Adopting transracially demands humility. If you are not in a place to quiet the entitlements of your race, to humble your beliefs of people of other races, and to listen to people of other races, you should not adopt transracially.

If you feel yourself pushing back to this, maybe ask yourself why? Be gracious with yourself and remember we are all growing, learning, and in different places. You may uncover a deeper understanding of your heart and fears, and find a fuller way to love by moving forward.

Humility is a road to a free heart. It opens up the cage that pride, fear, and entitlement bar your heart and family into. Humility is an essential component in all adoptions because it is a steady and true reminder that adoption is not about you.

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Natalie Brenner

Natalie Brenner is wife to Loren and mom to two under two, living in Portland, Oregon. She is the best-selling author of This Undeserved Life. She likes her wine red, ice cream served by the pint, and conversations vulnerable. Natalie believes in the impossible and hopes to create safe spaces for every fractured soul. She's addicted to honesty and believes grief is the avenue to wholeness. Natalie is a bookworm, a speaker, and a lover of fall. Connect with her at NatalieBrennerWrites.com and join her email community.


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