One of the great, sad tragedies of my mom’s life was the story of how her adoption was hidden from her until weeks before her wedding. Her mother had died shortly after giving birth to my mom, and my mom’s distraught dad couldn’t figure out how he could work and care for a newborn as well as his other child, a 9 y/o son. A distant cousin, unable to bear children of her own, stepped forward, offering to adopt the baby with the proviso that no one tell the little girl until she was 16.
My mom’s birth family pined for her, kept tabs on her, and waited. 16 came and went, and my mom’s adoptive parents chose to keep the secret going. When her birth dad found out my mom was about to be married at age 19, he called weeks before the wedding and asked if he could simply come as a guest to the big event. He’d waited for years in vain, as my mom’s adoptive parents conveniently chose to keep living the lie. The day that her dad called, my mom found out at that moment that her entire childhood (which hadn’t been very great to begin with – another story entirely) was built on lies and deceit.
I understand that back in those days (the 1930’s-1950’s), the sorts of choices all the parties made were not unusual. But they were wrong nonetheless. And the effects of the deceit and the pain of finding out the truth have shaped my own life and parenting in ways I can’t fully comprehend. When Bill and I were foster parenting and considering adoption to grow our own family, I began to realize as I waded through some of the literature about the emotional and spiritual nature of adoption that I myself carried the effects of my mom’s covered-up adoption. Most notably, I see it in some of the fear/anger/abandonment stuff I’ve experienced that seems to resonate directly from the confusion and emotional breakdown my mom experienced when she found out the truth just as she was going through her own major life transition – marriage. I was born less than 2 years later this, and her coping mechanisms were then, and through the rest of my childhood…shall we say, not particularly healthy.
Scripture talks about generational sin, curses and blessings. (E-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you’d like a quick list of some of the verses that discuss this.) Though I believe that Jesus forgives us and frees us from our sin, there are effects and patterns of brokenness that get passed down from one generation to another almost as clearly as hair color and freckles.
What’s amazing and sad is that the choice someone made in 1938 (which, I might add, didn’t happen in a vacuum – but grew out of the choices, curses and blessings of earlier generations) still echoes today. In some new ways, because after the last few weeks I see the potency of these seventy-year old choices still resonating in our lives, I am asking for healing and release for myself, my husband, my kids and my grandson. Jesus promises to set the captives free.