Thanks for sticking with me as I continue to review this book. I hope someone out there in bloglandia is enjoying this. Drop me a comment to let me know!
Frankly, I’ve really enjoyed writing these posts. Information this good needs to be absorbed twice!
Part one. Part two.
Chapter Four – “Don’t You Want Your Own Kids? How to Know If You – or Someone You Love – Should Consider Adoption”
I read this chapter while riding home from the zoo one day shortly after Christmas. I’m grateful that it was dark outside by then because I do believe I sobbed through this entire chapter. It’s in this chapter that Moore gives the backstory to his and his wife’s journey to adoption. Their first pregnancy resulted in miscarriage: “Our baby was, in his icily clinical wording, a ‘blighted ovum” (page 86). Just like our Basil.
He recounts his emotional turmoil after this loss. They had purchased a cute little hat for baby, and he wanted to be rid of it – wanted to stuff their pain.
Time passed and, sadly, they lost two more babies to miscarriage. Just like us (no wonder I was sobbing, eh?). He shares a fear that I’m sure many couples experience when dealing with infertility or miscarriage:
I feared we were staring into an abyss of being an elderly couple all alone, like some of the people we’d known as children. Those older, childless couples didn’t really know how to speak to children, so they’d talk about the weather and how their tomato plants were doing; they started scrapbooks with pictures of their cats. I hated cats. But was that our future? (Page 86)
He recognizes that there are countless of us who are or have been or, God forbid, might one day be in his shoes. Maybe you’re hiding the fact (or not) that you really just don’t want to even have to think about adoption because you want to become a parent to a biological child.
On the other hand, maybe this isn’t you at all. Maybe you are blissfully unaware of this kind of pain because it’s not a part of your story. But you might know someone who relates to this and you wonder what to say to them. Or, finally, maybe you have dozens of biological children and still feel called to adopt.
Moore recognizes that by sharing his forthcoming opinions, he’s setting himself up to be disagreed with, and he’s okay with that. He’s simply sharing some words that he wishes someone had shared with him and his wife in their dark days of recurrent pregnancy loss.
The first group of people he speaks to are those who are or might be infertile. He acknowledges that the grief you feel is normal and even holy. Children are a blessing, and “barrenness is part of the curse” (page 89).
I quite literally sobbed as I read his next reassurances, balm to my tender soul:
I can’t explain what the infertility means for you, but I can tell you that God is not punishing you. How do I know? If you are in Christ, your punishment was absorbed in the body of a crucified Jesus. There is no more condemnation for you (Rom. 8:1). God is discipling you, shaping you, and he often uses suffering to do so, but he isn’t punishing you. He views you within the body of his Christ, and he loves and delights in you. Whatever is happening in your life, nothing can separate you from the love of God in Christ (Rom. 8:31-39). If neither death nore life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come can sever you from God’s love, can the rhythms and silences of your reproductive organs do so? (Pages 89-90)
He then reminds us of Hannah and how he delights in answering our prayers. No situation is as dire as we feel it to be in the deepest, darkest moments. Hannah was heard.
When it comes to pregnancy, it seems, even more obviously than in other situations, those who ask tend to (eventually) receive, and those who seek tend to find (although perhaps not in the way they first intended). Your prayers are not accidental, after all. If you are walking in step with the Spirit, he intercedes for you, to bring your prayers into conformity with God’s will for your Christ-conformity (Rom. 8:26). This doesn’t mean that your praying for children means you’ll be granted children, but it does mean that if you’re praying for God’s will to be done and you find yourself continually seeking to pray for children, perhaps God is readying you for children. (Page 92)
It was in this section, too, that I felt a warning and conviction. Moore reminds us that this struggle, as most, can tempt us into resigning to bitterness and emotional withdrawal.
If you find yourself mistrusting God’s goodness to you or caving introspectively in on yourself or unable to rejoice with those who rejoice and weep with those who weep, recognize what’s happening – and that it isn’t good. […] The most perilous aspect of this is the fact that very few of your friends will call you on it. (Page 93).
Moore also speaks about the struggles of discernment that a couple dealing with infertility may encounter in the quest for a baby. He touches on IVF and other reproductive technologies. He explores some of the worldviews behind IVF, genetic screening, surrogacy, and sperm donation.
Ultimately, he address the couple dealing with all of this who is reluctant to adopt and the couple where perhaps just one spouse is reluctant. He assures that this does not make you a bad person and says simply that if God is Lord of your heart to ask Him about it. He may send you full-steam ahead, but he may also reveal to you reasons that it may not be wise for you to proceed with an adoption. Cover this issue, like all issues in your life, in prayer. God will guide you.
Another special (to me) section revolved around Moore’s discussion of this blog’s verse: Romans 8:28. “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.” He talks about how some shy away from speaking this Truth in to the life of a suffering believer for fear of minimizing their grief. He reminds us then that there is a poor way of reciting this verse (“Get over it”) and there is a way to speak this as a promise.
He tells of a night that some beloved mentors visited him and his wife. This man who Moore so deeply respected said, “Russell, this thing is terrible. And I don’t know why it’s happening to y’all. But I know God is good. And I know that God will do whatever it takes to conform you into the image of Christ” (page 104). Moore was so deeply impacted by the words of his mentor and friend. And frankly, I am, too.
I could seriously quote this entire section – it was so valuable to me to read, just a few weeks after our third consecutive miscarriage. I know that whatever I write to finish out this section will not do Moore’s words justice. Please, I implore you: if God is using this to speak to you, to comfort you or reassure you, grab a copy of the book and soak it in.
The next group of individuals that Moore addresses regarding the “Should you adopt?” question are those with existing families. Eventually, Moore and his wife did conceive two more sons biologically. With those added blessings, they encountered more negative adoption language. The “Are they brothers?” question returned, as did a host of other questions and comments that essentially divided their boys into two groups and often elevated one “group” above the other.
He recognizes that if this is your situation – desiring to add children to your family through the blessing of adoption – that it might be an easier and yet more complex decision all at the same time.
Complexity may look like a struggle to understand if and how love may be different among your children. One woman described the struggle she had to love her step-children the way she loves her biological children and yet summed it up with this: “It’s not a weak wall […] It’s just that he’s an immensely powerful God” (page 106).
Another reason this decision is complex is that an adoption would not simply affect you and your spouse but also the children that God has already entrusted into your care. He reminds that any significant change impacts a family and encourages you that taking your family through an adoption process gives you wonderful opportunity to share the gospel with each member in your family.
Moore continues on with reassurances and cautions for the family in this situation. Again, he implores that we seek counsel and cover our situations in prayer.
Stay tuned for part four of this review…