The Miracle of Adoption
- October 11, 2020
- Naomi Woo
I will never forget the first time I held her in my arms. Her brows were furrowed as she looked up at me like, “Who in the world are you?”. I remember she had blue footed pajamas on backwards that were too small for her. I kept feeling her squished little toes. And just like that, I had a little sister.
Hannah had burrowed her way into my heart from the first time I saw her tiny thumbnail-size picture. After l-o-n-g months of waiting, we had finally been matched, a magical word to all adoptive families where you get to see “your” baby and make plans to travel to meet them for the first time.
I was 16 when we adopted 13 month-old Hannah into our family. My brother, Jesse, was 14. At the time, I had no idea how very influential this experience would be in my life.
I had the privilege of experiencing the miracle of adoption—love planted deeply and firmly in my heart through no biological tie. Different from friendship, where the affection grows as you get to know the other person. For you see, the adoptee, had done nothing to earn a place in your heart.
Love is a choice, but it is also a miracle. Though our blood shares no familial tie, if you cut my soul open, you will find my sister Hannah. There is no distinction in my mind between my biological brother and my adoptive sister. They are just family. Period.
Ever since this experience of adopting my sister, Hannah, from China, I have wanted to adopt. I just had no idea how my story would unfold.
Fast forward to Christmas of 2018. My new husband and children surround me, as we sit through a family Christmas Eve service. Isaac is on my lap, doodling in my journal. They really could have found a way to make this service more kid-friendly, I mused, as the pastor shared high-level theology on the incarnation. Then he said, “Did you know Jesus was adopted? Mary conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit, and Joseph adopted Jesus.”
Isaac looked up at me, “Is that right?” he said, “that Jesus was adopted?”
“Yes,” I whispered back. “That’s true. Because Jesus’s father was really God, and he wasn’t related to Joseph.”
“Oh,” he answered. And after a pause looked back up at me with expectant eyes, “Are you going to adopt us?”
Tears filled my eyes. “Yes. Do you want me to adopt you?”
“Yeah, I do,” he answered snuggling a little closer.
Though it took longer than expected, we finally managed to complete all the required paperwork and background checks in order to schedule a hearing with the judge on August 24, 2020. It was not without some emotion that we worked through the process. Adoption always involves loss. Sometimes I felt so confused and insecure when a form asked for “mother’s name”. Was it their birth mother, Caroline, they wanted or me? I have always tried to be really careful to never try and replace her and rather to carve out my own relationship and standing with the kids.
The hearing, though done virtually through video conference, was more involved and meaningful than I expected. The judge asked me why I wanted to adopt the kids- because I love them and want to help guide and nurture them however I can. He asked each of the kids why they thought it was a good thing for me to adopt them. “Because she loves us, because my dad needs help parenting, because she wants the best for our family, because she’s kind and she makes us eat vegetables =).”
There are many differences between my family adopting Hannah and me adopting the five Woo kids. Hannah was set adrift in China due to the one-child policy. She knows nothing about her birth parents and very little about where she is from. My kids have a whole history, a loving family, a mother who didn’t choose to leave them. But both stories involve loss…and love.
I recently learned that this is the international symbol of adoption (Michael and the kids bought me a necklace with this symbol to commemorate our special day.)
One side of the triangle represents the birth parents, or birth mother in our case; the other side is for the adoptive parents. And the third side is for the child. The heart binds them together in love. Isn’t that beautiful? Both biological and adoptive parents are vital and important. And the love of God holds us all together.
After the official hearing, we celebrated with cake and ice cream with my family who had come for the occasion. Salem came up and said, “Now you are fully my mom!” And for the evening she kept saying things like, “Fully-my-mama, can I have such and such?” And I would answer, “Yes, you may, fully-my-daughter.”
I did not bear these babies for 9 months. I was not there to watch them say their first words or take their first steps. There is no family or genetic resemblance between us. And yet, they are my kids, planted as deeply in my heart as if we did share the same blood. And when I give birth to this new child in my womb, he or she will nestle beside my five other children, equally dear, miraculously loved.
“Even before he made the world, God loved us and chose us in Christ to be holy and without fault in his eyes. God decided in advance to adopt us into his own family by bringing us to himself through Jesus Christ. This is what he wanted to do, and it gave him great pleasure.” Ephesians 1:4-5 (New Living Translation)