February 4, 2013

The Purpose Driven Adoptee

“Why search? Your identity isn’t about your earthly family. Your true identity is in Christ.”

“Your home is in heaven. What does any of this matter in light of eternity?"

"You're adopted by God. We're all adopted, as Christians. That's who you are, and why you're here."

"Don’t get stuck on all this adoption stuff and searching for your birth family. It’s a distraction from what God has for you in life. He's called you to minister to people, not get wrapped up in this.”

I’ve heard all these things. 
I experienced it back when I was searching, before reunion. 
And I sometimes still get things like this from other Christians, now. 
I know other Christian adoptees hear these type of things from people too, because they've told me.

Apparently it’s okay for anyone out there except for adoptees to grapple with their identity, where they came from, who they’re connected to, and why they’re here. 

I remember when Rick Warren’s book, The Purpose Driven Life was first released. Christians and non-Christians alike were crazy about it and it quickly shot to the best sellers list. I am a supporter of the book myself, and have purchased and given away too many copies to count.  

 Warren’s book identifies many things people struggle with such as, “Who am I?” and “Why was I created?” and “What is my purpose on this earth?” As a pastor for 25 years the questions I’ve gotten the most from confused young people and adults alike are these very questions.  One reason Warren’s book was so popular is because these are issues people universally grapple with, no matter their background.

Adoptees can wrestle with these questions even more because there is so much that is unknown, particularly in a closed adoption.

I'm the type of Christian who welcomes questions. I believe it’s not only perfectly reasonable but necessary for human beings to ask, “Who am I?”, Why am I here?” and “Where do I fit in?”   

Certainly our family is a part of that.

There seems to be a different set of rules for adoptees.
When we ask questions, we often receive patronizing answers.
We’re told to be satisfied with the little we know.

“Let go of the need to know everything. It’s inconsequential compared to what God has for you. Just release control over to the Lord...”

“Don’t dwell on what you don’t know. Rejoice at what you do know. Just be grateful for what God has saved you from, and move on.”

“Accept the things you can’t change.” How about changing the things we just can't accept anymore?

“Move forward. Stop looking back to your past.”   

"Just accept that your identity is in Christ, and that’s where you fit in."

It's very convenient for someone who isn't adopted to exhort an adoptee to do these things.

To a non-adoptee we would never say:   

“Who you are has nothing to do with your family. Just concern yourself with Christ.”

“Your home is in heaven. Stop talking about your family, and move on.”

“Life isn’t about family. It’s all about God.”

“Hey, don’t get stuck concentrating on your family. It’s just a distraction from all God has for you.”

As a Christian or as a pastor I cannot imagine saying this to any of my church members. Family is very important to God. In fact, I often remind our church members that God created the family before He created the church!  How we relate to our family is one of the greatest expressions of the love of Christ. (Or not, if family members treat one another poorly.)   

Asking questions about our identity, connecting with family, and finding our unique God-given call in this world, are all things our heavenly Father wants us to embrace, not dismiss.

It troubles me that all of these deeper questions of life seem to be appropriate for those who aren’t adopted but those who are adopted need to settle for a lot of uncertainty.

Somehow I don’t think that’s what Jesus ever intended. 

Keep asking.
Keep searching.
Keep praying.

God isn’t afraid of our questions about where we came from, how we got here, and our purpose in being here, even though a lot of His people seem to be.