Adoption Insight from an Adoptee & a Giveaway

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.

If I haven’t already, I’d love to send you a welcome packet! Just click on the sign-up button up top!

The Ups and Downs of Adoption: A Love Letter to a Boy Who is No Longer Ours

Yesterday, I sat down to write a blog post. I only managed a few lines before someone delivered the kind of news that gives your chest a nice, hearty wallop.

I wasn’t sure if I wanted to share any of this online, but I’d already announced the good news about our referral early in September. An update would eventually be necessary. Plus, I’m a writer. Which means the best way for me to process anything is…..revelation of all revelations….through writing.

Here are the lines I had written…

We all want to believe that our anguish can turn into joy.

That our tears are never wasted.

That God has a plan.

Not just a plan with an upper-case P, as in the ultimate plan.

But a plan with a lower-case p, as in a personal plan for each of our lives.

Then the phone rang and I answered it and it was our adoption agency with sad news.

Our little two-year old Congolese boy is no longer ours. 

The story is long and heartbreaking and comes with more questions than answers. 

But despite the sadness, I have to believe it wasn’t a coincidence that these were the words I was typing when that phone call came. 

I have to believe it wasn’t a coincidence that I’d just listened to a message about anguish and joy, a la Beth Moore. How the two are opposite sides of the same coin. And if we trust God with our anguish, it has the potential to birth something precious. 

I one hundred percent believe that God has a plan for us in this.

But most especially and more importantly, I have to believe that God has a plan for that little boy. 

When Brogan was in utero, I wrote him love letters. Words that expressed my hopes for his future, my excitement about all the things we would share as mother and son, and how much that little bean was already loved.

Even though this little guy is no longer ours, I feel like he’s no less deserving of a love letter all his own.

So here it is. The hopes I have for his life, wherever it may take him.

Dear Little Man,

I hope that wherever you are, you would have hands to hold you when you’re sick, hug you when you’re scared, and lips to kiss your hurts.

I hope that somebody teaches you about God’s love. 

I hope that you will not grow up with a hardened heart.

I hope that despite being forgotten and neglected and beat down by this messed up world, you will feel God’s presence in your life and know He will never abandon you. I know your story, little one. He can turn the deepest scars and the worst anguish into joy, if you let Him.

I hope that you grow into a man who loves the Lord with all your heart and soul and mind and strength. 

I hope that you discover your voice and use it to stand against injustice.

I hope that you never let fear or doubt or failure keep you from living life to the fullest.

I hope that you will know freedom and you will know joy and despite it all, you will know laughter and love.

                     All of my mine,

                     A woman who would have been honored to be your mother


We were put on the referral list in mid May.

We’ve been told it takes about six months for a family to receive a referral.

So we most likely have another few months of waiting ahead of us.

But it could happen anytime, really. It’s possible to get a referral tomorrow.

Regardless of when, one day, we will get a phone call followed by an email and that’ll be it….our child. This faceless nameless child we’ve been praying for. 

We’ll have a picture and name and a background. 

Maybe a little girl. Or a little boy.

And all of a sudden, the plight of the orphan will have a face. All of a sudden, the plight of the orphan will feel personal and raw and….real.

Because that will be my little boy or my little girl. And instead of hopping on a plane and flying across the Atlantic and bringing our sweet pea home, we’ll have to wait. 

For another 12 months, give or take. Knowing that the children in these orphanages are perishing. Knowing that the situation is heart-breakingly desperate. 

We’ll have no choice but to wait. While the courts confer. While due diligence is adhered to.

We will wait.

And we will pray.

We’ll pray like we’ve never prayed before. We will lift this precious child–our precious child–to the throne room of God. Begging that He would keep our little one safe until it is time to bring our little one home.

Let’s Talk: How do you handle waiting? What’s the hardest thing you’ve had to wait for?