Christine Rhyner

Christine's blogs

Being Tested
Wednesday, September 11, 2013 by Christine

From out of our thoughts spring our actions.  Love is not merely a feeling but requires action.  Healing from injustices requires active participation.  So does fully experiencing joy and freedom in our special God-given roles as parents to adopted children.  As does reparation and maintenance of relationships with those we care about.

Diffusing anger in interactions with those we don't care for or even know is also an action.  So is promoting the means by which we became families so that others will know how wonderful and important it is for orphans worldwide.  And action is definitely required to protect our children from damaging situations that call into question their right to dignity, respect and belonging.

A vast amount of people lack awareness of how what they say concerns or harms those families created in this special way.

Many parents who adopt discover that they must exercise infinite patience and fight against anxiety on their journey.  Yet no one quite explains to them that becoming a parent to a child from another country requires a testing of one's faith, character and in many instances, ability to forgive that won't be required in the same way for biological families.

Though many adoption agencies are run with integrity by caring individuals who work hard at uniting children with parents, they simply can't address the all-encompassing aspects of international adoption.

That's because even though they understand how overwhelmed you feel by legal and procedural preparations to bring home baby, and they take your emotions into consideration, it isn't within the realm of their duties to prepare you for your new role and responsibilities.  They get the baby into your arms.  After that you're on your own.

If your trip to an adoption agency took a route that happened to cross that of a fertility clinic, you know that these facilities can treat your body but not your soul.  As you exit through their doors for the last time, their work is done.  But your painful process of integrating an infertile self with a once hopeful mother to be has just begun.  Clinics and doctors can't and don't really ready you for the despair and self-condemnation that threaten to engulf you.  They don't reach out to you on your couch where you lay and brood.

Many suggest to the more than fifty percent of their patients that won't have babies through fertility treatments to look into adoption.  My doctor did.  But he could not assist me in the emotional transition necessary from deciding I wanted to be a mother more than I longed to carry a child and give birth.

If you belong to a good church, you are grateful to those who have reached out to you, comforting and praying for you and your spouse while you've waited on God to answer your prayers.  Having God's people surround you in your time of need is invaluable.

Yet there is an overlooked truism to infertility that a strong need for support can last years.  As you wait, cry, pray and your faith takes a beating, you worry about wearing your friends out.  You may think you sound like a broken record in your conversations with them.  At times you pull back from them or vice versa, and find yourself wondering if any will truly stick it out with you during your intensely long night of suffering.

While the function of the church is to help you strengthen your faith in God, it's also a place where you'll likely get more than a little practice at honing forgiveness skills.

One reason for this is the nature of our close, interdependent relationships in church.  These connections satisfy deep human needs for support, fellowship, and acceptance and like mindedness, yet they also provide plenty of opportunity for learning how to resolve conflict.  We have a tendency to expect so much from those who have committed their lives to loving others in the church with the love of Christ.  We can fail to accept these as flawed, sinful individuals like us.

The truth is it takes exceptional people to steadfastly walk with you through enduring hardship.  If you find a few consider yourself greatly blessed.  It's also true that there are many wonderful churches out there that will counsel and encourage you and offer great suggestions on how to pray about and deal with your desire for a baby.

Of those who feel safe enough to look to the church during infertility, not many will be prepared for certain ramifications of doing so.

Unanticipated scenarios like finding yourself at odds with your church regarding fertility, acceptability of fertility interventions, inability to conceive or adoption may play themselves out.  Positions held concerning these matters vary from church to church.  And it is unlikely that your church can offer solid, Biblical counsel to help you make decisions about ever increasing medical technologies available, from Artificial Insemination to ovary transplants.

Being able to identify with other authors on infertility, even in small ways, has felt like a soothing balm or provided me a laugh at my own insecurities or fears.  But I also have come to the conclusion that there exists no one source weaving together all the many threads that fill the tapestry of international adoption.

It would have been of incalculable benefit to myself to find an informative, understanding source that not only began well before I boarded a plane to carry me to a foreign country, but continued on for some time after I returned home.  In between, it would have displayed a work of art to me had it included the strongest and brightest threads running through it of not just faith, but also forgiveness.

Faith is a prerequisite to international adoption.  Faith that your adoption agency will pull everything together to make it happen.  Faith that another country's government and official's will do their part.  Faith that the child whose picture or video you've received is meant to be yours.  Faith that the pilot won't crash the plane.

Some of the authors whose stories I've read spoke of faith in God; others of faith in themselves or destiny.  But none of them made mention of another essential prerequisite to adoption--forgiveness.  Other sources for adoption information simply do not tell you that you have to forgive anyone for anything, for what reasons or how to accomplish this.

That is why I have written a book about this very topic.  I hope for it to be released in the near future and that it will benefit many of you who also find yourselves on this flight of hope.

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