Adoption is near and dear to my heart. It’s a journey my husband and I are walking and will continue to walk for the rest of our lives. Which means I’m always looking for insight. I’ve taken online courses, read books and blogs, and talked with other adoptive mamas. But nothing’s quite as insightful as talking to a person who knows what it’s like to be adopted. Today, I’m pleased to have award-winning author and adoptee, Catherine West, on my blog to answer some questions.
Cathy, what’s the best/hardest thing about being adopted?
Hmm. I guess as an adult I would say knowing now that God had each day of my life ordained for me from the moment I was conceived. As a child, I am not sure there was a ‘best’ thing. Being adopted automatically makes you different. Back when I grew up, in the ‘60’s and ‘70’s, being different was not cool. So being adopted was actually a hard thing to process and understand. It was much easier to just pretend I wasn’t.
The hardest thing has been to acknowledge that I was relinquished, and to know that even though my birth mother chose not to keep me, God still loved me and chose my parents for me and chose me for them. Sometimes it’s hard to understand how a person could walk away from their own child, but God speaks to that in Isaiah 49:15 – “Can a mother forget the baby at her breast and have no compassion on the child she has borne? Though she may forget, I will not forget you!”
As a person who was adopted, what’s the one thing you think every adoptive parent should know?
I think they should know that even though that child is ‘theirs’, there is a history. One phrase that really stuck with me when I was searching, and I used it in Hidden in the Heart, is: You existed before you were adopted.
The truth is, the adopted child has a birth mother and a birth father, maybe birth siblings, and certainly an entire genetic history that has nothing to do with their adoptive family. I think there needs to be respect for that. I also think it is natural for the adoptive child to want to know the answers to questions like, “Where did I come from?” “Who do I look like?” “Why didn’t my ‘real’ mother want to keep me?” Just because you give a child a loving home does not mean you can fill the void left by the act of a mother relinquishing their child. Accept that, and when that child has questions, be as open and honest as you can with them.
As a person who was adopted, what’s the one thing you wish the world at large understood about adoption?
Wow, this one is harder! From everything we see in the media, adoption is portrayed as this fairytale. A couple travels to a foreign land, ‘saves’ their child, and brings him or her back to their homeland, wherever that may be, and everything’s coming up roses.
Okay, I’m simplifying, but honestly? It doesn’t work that way. On the one hand, you have people wanting to do this wonderful thing and it IS wonderful, but it costs a ton of money, takes a huge emotional toll and does not always turn out the way it was planned. On the other hand, you’re talking about an entire generation of children who will most likely never know their family history, and may always struggle with feelings of abandonment, displacement and rejection.
I think the decision to adopt, whether it is done international or domestically, needs to be made with much prayer and wise, professional, counsel.
Your newest novel, Hidden in the Heart, deals with adoption. Tell us a little bit about it.
This book was truly written from the heart. It’s about a young woman, Claire Ferguson, who has lost her mother to cancer and then suffered a miscarriage. Claire is adopted and wonders if she possesses some unknown genetic flaw that caused her to miscarry. This propels her into the search for her birth family. Claire’s journey is very loosely based on my own search and reunion journey. Whilst she goes through many things I did not, all her emotions were written from firsthand experience.
Cathy is giving away a FREE copy of her latest novel to one lucky commenter! So make sure to leave a comment to be entered to win! Winner will be announced this Friday!
Let’s Talk: What do you think is a common misunderstanding about adoption? Do you have any questions for Cathy?
Join me over on Cathy’s blog for a chance to win a copy of my debut novel as I talk about adoption from a soon-to-be adoptive mama’s perspective!
My debut novel, Wildflowers from Winter, may not be about adoption, but it does explore a common theme in adoption – beauty and hope arising from those broken, barren seasons in our lives. If this sounds like a novel you’d like to try, you can read the first three chapters for free here.
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