Yesterday I experienced what can only be described as a holy moment.
I had the opportunity to participate in a dedication service at a local hospital as two families met to complete a long-awaited open adoption process. The birth mother: a teenage girl who has been attending our church for the last few months. The adoptive parents: a young pastor and his wife who were welcoming their second adopted child into their home.
As we stood in the hospital room, it was obvious that it was filled with a range of emotions:
- Intense sadness: two kids were saying goodbye to a baby they created. Regardless of intention, regardless of regret, regardless of possible future scenarios, they were sad. Broken. Hurting. Four new grandparents stood at their side. These weren’t the circumstances they’d imagined for their first grandchild. These weren’t the emotions they’d expected to feel.
- Intense joy: a man and woman were arriving at the day they’d waited for…prayed for…hoped for for months. This was the child they wanted. This was the child they’d pursued. They were as gentle and kind and reserved as you could possibly imagine. They stood to the side, they gave plenty of time for goodbyes, but the anticipation and exhilaration was written all over their faces.
- Intense love: no fewer than a dozen people were crowded into that room: biological parents. Adoptive parents. Representatives from the adoption agency and the home where the birth mother has lived for the last several months. There were many unknowns surrounding that moment, but the baby was surrounded by people who wanted what was best for him.
It was impossible to stand in the midst of that event – to hold an infant not yet 48 hours old – and not have my mind go back to the spiritual nature of adoption. We’ve been helpless like that. We’ve been loved like that. We’ve been pursued like that. We’ve found hope like that.
My new friend Kim – who with her husband Mike has ministered to so many pregnant girls in their home – said it best: “There’s a huge difference between giving up a child and handing over a child.” Handing over still isn’t easy, to be sure. But it’s intentional. It’s sacrificial.
It’s love on display.