Thoughts on Adoption as a Sacred Exchange

Jamie Lee Curtis once described adoption as "a sacred exchange." As a birth mom, I couldn't agree more with that description. Here's why.

Lindsey Olsen February 19, 2018
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As an adoptive mother of two, Jamie Lee Curtis – yes, that Jamie Lee Curtis – said, “We look at adoption as a very sacred exchange. It was not done lightly on either side. I would dedicate my life to this child.”

This profound quote hits home for many people touched by adoption. I believe it to be one of the best for three reasons.

1. Adoption is sacred. 

If you have a part in adoption, whether you are religious or not, I’m sure we can all agree adoption is sacred. In many cases, it is an act of selflessness on all fronts. Nothing about adoption is without sacrifice. It requires the acknowledgement that there is something greater, something important about these children. It takes one party admitting they need help getting their child to that better place, and a party willing to try to get them there.

As someone who is deeply religious, I can attest that this is true. I firmly believe, I even dare to say I know, that adoption is of a higher power. I know I was lead to the right agency, at the right time, to find the right family, to do what was right for my child. This is not to say parenting is not also sacred, but that was not my part. That is how it is sacred to my son’s parents. It’s how they expanded their family. There isn’t anything anyone could say that could sway me from knowing divine intervention ensured this child was placed where he needed to be. I see every day how everything fell into place, and know I could not have gotten him there on my own.

2. Adoption is not a spur-of-the-moment choice.

The choice to adopt and the choice to place may seem like opposite ends of the adoption spectrum. However, they are rooted in the same belief: I will do everything in my power to make sure this child has a better life. One side places to achieve this, while the other side gives of themselves to bring it to pass. Neither placing or parenting an adopted child is an easy. Both go against so much of what the average person thinks of as natural instinct.

Think about the person you love and covet the most; someone you don’t think you could live without. Anyone. What makes you cherish them so much? Consider the immense joy they bring you! Recall the best memories of them you can conjure. Sit in that feeling for a moment. Now, imagine them at their happiest. Can you see their smile? Hear their laughter? Is it tangible? Now imagine them at their deepest, darkest times of despair. Does it hurt to even think of them in that state?

Now comes the hard part: think of what it would feel like if you had every positive feeling towards them as you do now, but you felt you might cause them unhappiness. That you might be the reason they don’t laugh as much. That you’re the one who takes away their smile. That is what it feels like to be a birth mother; you feel like you couldn’t possibly experience joy without them, but you might be the one keeping joy from them. It’s a crushing paradox that is hard to comprehend unless you’ve experienced something like it.

But as you think about that person’s happiness again, think of it being the result of someone else. That there is another person who wants so passionately to give of their love, that they make your loved one smile that smile you think is so bright. They make them laugh like a song you could play on repeat forever. You would do anything to make sure they had that happiness, even if it cost you your own.

Lastly, think of that person who makes them happy. They do anything to make sure that song never stops playing and their bright smile never stops shining, but they see you. They see you standing in the background, on your knees, in tears. They see the pain on your face and they can feel your anguish as you look on. They don’t like that you’re hurting, they’re tormented knowing they can’t take it away because they want so badly to make sure your loved one, their loved one, is happy. That’s the struggle of being the parent of an adopted child. It’s not easy. For anyone. But it’s done because the shared love one will be happy, and ultimately, that what both of you want.

3. It is all for the children. 

No matter how hard it is, no matter how much pain it causes, the well-being and happiness of the child is what trumps everything. We, the birth parents and adoptive parents of these children, dedicate our all to those we love and covet the most. We will give our lives to give them the best we can. All the heartache is worth it. Every little bit of it.

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Lindsey Olsen

Lindsey Olsen is a birth mother from sunny California, where she currently lives with her husband Steve (also referred to as Bud). She loves singing, going for walks in warm weather, looking out the passenger side window on long road trips, and eating. . .everything. Her favorite things are her family, her faith, her cowboy boots, and food. She has aspirations of becoming a marriage and family counselor so she can help other birth mothers find confidence, comfort, and beauty in their identities as the amazing women they are.

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