Walking the Tightrope of Identity

I have always known I’m adopted. As a child my parents made it seem like no big deal. My birthday fell on the same day as their wedding anniversary so that fact became part of the story woven together on how they knew I was the girl for them. My older brother is also adopted so it felt like we were “hand-picked” to fulfill my mother’s dream of children and a family. My dad used to love to tell me about the day they got the call to come get me. They weren’t exactly prepared so once they got me from the adoption agency my father drove to a store and rocked me on the huge steering wheel of the car while my mom ran into the store for diapers and supplies. Dad said I cried an ocean of tears and he even collected them in a test tube to keep. I was only 3 months old and had been in a foster home where I was not well cared for. Dad said I was not very clean and I had ear infections, thus the river of tears. I used to love to hear him tell that story. As a child it made me feel special. My mom never made me feel any different. From her point of view I was their little girl and she couldn’t have loved me more if she tried. But regardless of her assurance there was a lingering, nagging part of me that felt different. I didn’t really look like my parents and I searched high and low, once I got older, for my adoption documents to see if I could discover who I really was. The only paperwork I ever found indicated that my name was originally Debra. I’m not sure who gave me that name but my mom changed it to Beverly Sue once I was hers. Her name was Sue so she was making sure I had a tie to her for life.

Adoption is a wonderful thing and I strongly recommend it because people need to belong to one another. Many families have embraced adoption as a way to enlarge their family or just start one. But adoption is also a tricky tightrope that the child will walk throughout life. As an adopted child I find my life has been filled with wondering and questions. Fortunately I have had the opportunity to find my birth mother and discover additional siblings. It feels really rewarding to look into the face of someone and see myself. I look just like my birth mother. I’ve also recently discovered the identity of my birth father, who is deceased. I’ve gotten to meet a couple of uncles and I discovered I have a sister I’ve never met. I don’t know that I ever will. I’m also sure that for the adoptive parents this longing by their child causes a certain amount of uncertainty. So the tightrope is now being walked by both parties.

As followers of Jesus we are told that God grafted us into His family in the same way that parents adopt children. This is supposed to make us feel reassured and extremely well loved. And perhaps for those who have never faced a lifetime of doubts and uncertainties about where they come from, who they look like and why they were given up in the first place this is a joyful news flash. But unless you’ve ever been adopted and faced these questions it’s hard to explain that being adopted, yet again, is not extremely comforting. I have recently given this a lot of thought and I have determined that I don’t believe in the “adopted by God” story line. I’ve thought long and hard about my relationship to Jesus. I’ve come to believe that if God created everyone, making us all children of God, then adoption is not an appropriate scenario for my relationship with God. When we were conceived by the union of our mothers and fathers we were created by that union. So if we are created by God and are, in fact, the children of God, there is no adoption process. We are His. In fact, everyone is God’s child, regardless of their religion. God is not Christian, Jewish, Muslim or any other religion. God has no man-made religion. God is creator and author of all that exists.

I can’t escape the reality that I am a person that was given up at birth and adopted by a whole new family. I applaud the strength it took for my birth mother to put my needs above her own and try to give me a better life. I applaud my parents who wanted a family and decided to include me in theirs. But I was never given away by God, who loves me and calls me His own. So while I’ve walked the tightrope of identity throughout my life, struggling to find out who I am and what my genealogy is tied to, I can find comfort in knowing that I am not the adopted daughter of God. I am the child of the most high God.


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