The news that adoption records in the United States may be opened in more than a few states reminds me of the profound healing that took place when my own firstborn son came into my life when he was 29 years old. I had given him up for adoption when I was 19 and promised my parents that I would never make any attempt to contact him.
But the adoption records were opened, and my son found me. I got the call from a social worker at a local adoption agency, asking me if I wanted the contact. She'd received a letter and photos from my son.
It wasn't hard to answer the question. For me, the worst part of giving up a child for adoption was living with the fear that I'd ruined someone's life. My only refuge from that fear was praying for him – particularly during the week of his birthday each year. I prayed for his safety, his courage, and his freedom from the sensuality that had misguided me. I prayed that he would know God and find the peace of knowing that he was loved. The week of his 21st birthday, I'd felt a release. God assured me that I could stop worrying – that he was safe and was a man of integrity.
So when the social worker called me eight years later, of course I was eager to meet him. I found a son full of joy and gratitude for his life. One of the main reasons he wanted to contact me was to thank me. He'd become a parent himself, and he'd glimpsed the kind of unselfishness it would take to give up a child for adoption. His maturity and spiritual mindedness were remarkable.
As I introduced the reality of my son to my other two boys and family members, it was amazing to see the wider blessing for each of them. But my youngest son had a hard time dealing with the uncovering of my past. He was 13, and it made him confused and fearful.
Gratefully, he could share his thinking: How could he trust me again when he felt I had deceived him? If things got financially worse for our family, would he be the next to be put up for adoption? These were very real issues for him, and it was difficult to untangle the emotion.
During the worst times, I found myself praying the words of a hymn:
Guide me, O Thou great Jehovah, Pilgrim through this barren land: I am Thine, and Thou art mighty, Hold me with Thy powerful hand. (William Williams, "Christian Science Hymnal," No. 90)
The hymn told me that the best thing I could bring to the situation was a secure sense of belonging to God myself. My spiritual identity was more than a vulnerable teenager, an unwed mother, or a confused adult dealing with fallout of long-ago mistakes. My identity as God's child was worthy of forgiveness, even if my son could never forgive me. Each of us was embraced by the one divine Parent, who knew each of our needs and was supplying them.
We asked some close family friends to pray with us through the darkest, heaviest time. I had to know that the psychological complexity of our relationships was not beyond God's control and blessing. In effect, I had to pray so that my youngest could feel his closeness to God more strongly than he felt disappointed in me.
As we prayed, I had a sure conviction that Christ, the saving law of God, would speak to him in exactly the way he could best understand. The healing came suddenly and completely. He realized his secure place in God's love and in our family. He welcomed the gift of having another brother to love and learn from. The three men are now close and faithful brothers.
Despite the unconventional structure of many families – including my own – and the effect that may have on holiday gatherings, this experience showed me that nobody is outside the one divine family. Admitting God's complete love for each of us individually shows us the way to the complete blessing He has for all of us.