universal role

There was a post on another site a while back asking whether anyone, when discussing the adoption of our child, suggested or claimed that it was “meant to be.”

The original question concerned the role of “God” in bringing families together through adoption — i.e., whether there is any comfort to be found in believing that a child’s adoption was part of “God’s plan.”

I realize I might offend here, so I apologize in advance. I am not a religious person, so I’ve never really considered or given much credence to this thought.

I’m not going to explore how I think the fundamental premise of the question is rather dismissive of the adoptee experience, as well as the role of the child’s first parents. Or how any god that would will or enable such suffering — i.e., the separation of a parent from his/her child, of a child from his/her mother and father, or of a parent from any child s/he longed for — is not one in which I choose to believe.

I know some people take real comfort in religion. Honestly, sometimes I envy that sort of faith. But I can’t share it.

Still, the question got me thinking about something that has been said about our adoption.

In my last post, I mentioned how I used to say that we were “lucky” to have met K when we did. Luck isn’t the right word, for so many reasons. I just felt so fortunate. Yet I know that our good fortune meant loss for others. This is the inherent paradox of adoption — the joy and the pain.

In truth, I never wished that on anyone. Even when I so desperately hoped and wished for a child, when I so longed to hold a baby in my arms, when I’d cry myself to sleep wondering if I would ever love a child of my own, I never wished the anguish of separation on any mother or father, or child.

Yet this is how families are formed through adoption.

When we chose to try to build our family through adoption, we knew that if we ended up as parents, it would only be because someone else could not. We could not become parents on our own. Someone would have to choose us as parents for their child. The magnitude (and the uncertainty) of that thought was so overwhelming. Maybe it would happen, maybe it wouldn’t. There was no guarantee that we would become parents.

We knew we could only control so much. We could be honest and ethical. We could be authentic. We could open our hearts or we could put up a defense. We could release our intention into the universe and see what returned. We could say yes to a potential situation or we could say no. But the rest of it, well the rest of it was really out of our hands.

In life, and in adoption, some take comfort in the belief that their God is watching over them, perhaps even guiding them. Some believe it is truly a matter of fate or destiny. Others throw it up to luck, chance or circumstance.

We put our faith in the universe. Only the forces of nature had held such sacred ground in our own hearts and souls. Yet nature had also worked against us for so long, or more likely it was we who struggled against nature. Still, despite the years of infertility, losing our son half way to term, all of it, we did believe that we were “meant” to be parents, somehow. We had to hope that someone in an impossible situation might consider us to become parents to their child, if they were truly unable to themselves. We had to believe in the possibility that such a situation, while impossible for someone else, would be “right” for us, for all of us.

We were hoping to meet someone who wanted the same things we did for a child. We were hoping to meet someone who was free from pressure, who ideally had more options than ambivalence. We were hoping to meet someone with whom we shared some common interests, someone we would want to call family.

And we did. Relatively quickly.

Was it random luck? Fate or destiny? Mere circumstance?

At the time we called it synergy. The timing was such that it was impossible to ignore. Plus it didn’t feel random. In fact, we found each other through various means (i.e., family, friends, professionals, midwives, internet). If K was determined to place, it seems we would have found each other one way or another. We believed, all of us, that some force in the universe allowed us to find each other at this critical crossroads in our lives. Somehow our paths intertwined at that very moment.

So, is that belief any different than believing in “God’s plan” or fate or destiny?

Yes, of course, to me. But how?

As I said in my last post, our daughter’s birth grandmother has shared her belief that “luck” had nothing to do with us finding each other, that the stars were simply “aligned” and that the “universe unfolded” just as it should have.

Does this mean that her daughter, K, never had a choice, that she was “meant” to place her child with us? No. I don’t think that’s what she means at all.

At any point in K’s process, she could have chosen another path. K had support, guidance, resources. Yet once she decided what she wanted for her child, she set on a course to make that happen. K has a way of manifesting reality like I have never seen.

Somehow, she found us.

Somehow, we found each other.

Although we came into each other’s lives at that moment in time, we still knew well that we might not be this child’s parents. That would be K’s choice. She had many along the way.

And that’s where I think the fundamental difference is.

But is it simply predetermination versus free will? I think there is a distinction between suggesting that someone’s God has preordained the conception and placement of a child before s/he is ever born, and the notion that natural forces in the universe (i.e., the stars, moon, tides, energy, etc.) with which we are inexplicably linked may help guide or hinder our actions, perhaps depending on whether we act in accord or discord with those forces.

Then again, maybe I still believe that sometimes random shit just happens.

Wait, bear with me here.

When our son died, I never believed that it was “meant” to be, for any reason. I loathed that whole line of false comfort. I didn’t believe that some God was responsible; I had no God in which to place my faith for healing. I didn’t believe that our son’s soul was simply not ready to join us. I didn’t believe that I was being punished for some past misdeed. No, not everything happens for a reason. The reality is, it was only “meant” to be because it happened. My son died because my body failed him. Why did the conditions arise that led to my womb’s inhospitable habitat? Probably a mixture of biology, chemistry, environment, history and poor medical practice. Was it “God”? No. Was it the stars or fate? I don’t think so.

It was only “meant” to be because it happened.

When we talked with K about the path that led us to adoption, there was no sorrowful regret. There was only what was. When we discussed what led us to each other, we agreed there are no coincidences. We talked about how each decision along the way has far-reaching and often unforeseeable consequences. Every action a reaction. Each of us had made choices along the way that somehow resulted in our paths crossing at that particular moment in time, just as we were in effect searching for each other.

Yet whatever brought us together, be it fate, luck, coincidence, or some universal synergistic force, ultimately K was still the mistress of her plan. It was she who decided that we should become our daughter’s parents, and we who embraced such a tremendous honor.

Becoming parents to our daughter was only “meant” to be because it happened.

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~ by luna on September 4, 2010.

31 Responses to “universal role”

  1. I do believe in God but I also find myself nodding along and agree with everything you’ve said here. I never felt my losses were part of some plan, happening for some greater good or some reason. They just happened. A lot of things happen in this world that I just can’t attribute to the will of some God out there, not if he is a good God. And yet why doesn’t he stop the terrible things? I don’t know, except to say that there is choice, there is action and reaction, there is synergy.

    Thanks for this post, it is really beautiful.

  2. Very interesting. I became Buddhist for a variety of reasons but principally because I thought I could manifest my own good fortune and peace of mind via chanting. I was sick of the idea of people praising/blaming God depending on what happened in their lives. I also didn’t like the resignation of saying “it’s God’s will” to explain away tragedy. And why are some good people “blessed” and good people “not blessed”? To me, the message was uninspiring, unmotivating and excused personal responsibility and accountability. Still, I was told that if I chanted so many hours,drank that concoction, relaxed, went of vacation, blah, blah, blah, that I would conceive and deliver a child. I’d received so many other benefits in my life, I thought why on earth wouldn’t I have my dream come true? Had I harboured a seed of doubt in my heart? I had to ask myself, why were MY prayers not answered? Why does THAT 51 year old/disabled/crack addict have a kid and I do not? Ah, the eternal question! Inevitably, the Buddhist answer is sometimes life isn’t fair. Good enough. That would allow me to move on. Frankly, I had a LOT of doubt and it didn’t really feel real until I got home with him. As you said, there was a great deal of sadness mixed in with happiness.

  3. I LOVE this post. I’ve caught myself thinking or saying before that at times I envy someones faith but I find it so hard to believe that God’s will would be for some to have prayers answered and some to not have prayers answered and so on. It frustrates me often to see some who are so convinced that everything is “God’s Will” that they forget about free will and the fact that they have the ability to make a choice themselves.
    I love reading things that make me look at all the possible things that can influence our choices and our lives.

  4. I’ve read your blog for a long time, and I think I’ve commented once or twice, but when I read this it just resounded so deeply within me. Not because of adoption, but because of your view of religion, faith, events and what is or is not “meant to be.” Thank you for sharing a view that while may not be prevalent had me sitting here nodding alone with you. PS I love each and every one of your pictures of your beautiful baby. She’s adorable.

  5. “There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy.” (This is why I’m agnostic, rather than all-our atheist.)

  6. Luna – you have articulated very clearly what bothers me about the “God/meant to be” type of stupid comforting people give you when life gives you lemons. Really good post!

  7. This is a fantastic post that I’m actually going to link to, I heart it so.

  8. […] I’d rant about it, but my friend Luna says it so much better.  Go read her post. Tags: […]

  9. I DO believe in GOD, my faith is deep and abiding. I too wrestled with my notions of God in the throws of treatment for infertility. Why would God ordain me not to have children, why me, why was I being punished? The problem with religion is that so many people have fantasy notions of God as Savior vs God as Creator. In my walk through darkness and doubt, I came face to face with God as Creator and came to understand free will. My personal encounter with God at a time of great suffering, depression, and darkness was life changing. The God I follow does not cause suffering, infertility, poverty, etc.

  10. As always I enjoy your posts and for you this was your experience, as you see it, through the eyes of someone who does not believe in God and I respect it. Having faith in God is not an easy thing, especially when terrible things are happening in your life, like losing loved ones, new and old, or going through infertility. But to have faith doesn’t mean that your life will be perfect, to me, it means that your life was given a purpose by something larger than yourself. Since I believe in God, to me He has given me that purpose. I believe ultimately it is up to me to find that purpose through living and learning and asking for God’s help along the way. I believe strongly that it was my purpose in life to be the mother to the child that I have, however that came about. It’s difficult to explain, but when it happened to me, I just knew it and I can’t help but acknowledge that as a woman of faith as God at work in my life.

  11. there are so many things i have to say about this post…but i can’t seem to articulate any of my thoughts! i believe in God but resonate with so many of your points. i don’t believe in “meant to be” in the way that most people mean it. and i don’t believe in a God that causes suffering. i believe in a God that redeems and restores. i’d love to chat over a coffee about the many things we have in common!

  12. I agree with everything you wrote 100%.

  13. This is such a beautiful post. I totally agree. Your daughter is so lucky to have a mom who acknowledges all this so unflinchingly.

    This is why I have an enormous problem when embryo donation is referred to as “embryo adoption.” First of all, legally there is no such thing, and organizations who deal with it as if it were are discriminatory and often gouge prospective parents financially. There is no separation and loss as there is with adoption. I was given a gift of a bunch of cells by a woman whose family was complete. They might or might not have become a child or children. I believe anyone with extra embryo has every right to do whatever they wish with them. Donate them to research, have them destroyed, keep them in storage forever, or donate them to someone in the hope that they will finally have their longed for child. I am very lucky that one clump of cells that had been frozen for 4 years, managed to dig in and grow into the sassy baby girl who is asleep beside me as I type this.

  14. A thoughtful, well-written post. I found you through Kalyn’s blog and am glad I did.

  15. […] an adorable fleece for fall. So sweet. We had some interesting conversations, including another one like this, which she initiated. Once again, she said how grateful she is that we didn’t just decide to […]

  16. […] I can only help her grow into the person she will become. I can nurture her innate intelligence, curious nature, and good humor. I can work to instill in her the love, respect, gratitude and compassion I feel as her Mama. I can try to equip her with confidence, independence, and problem-solving tools to help her through. I can explain how she is a citizen of the world, for she is truly a child of the universe. […]

  17. I adore this post!

  18. I believe you have the wrong idea of God. He doesn’t “will” pain and suffering and babies dying, it’s just part of this fallen world and the result of giving us imperfect humans free will. He has obviously been working in your life and in your adoption. Blessings in the new year!

  19. I still remember reading this post when you originally wrote it. It was one of the ones that prompted me to write my own “God and adoption” post, which indirectly led to my “love and adoption” post that I submitted to the Creme.

    “It was only meant to be because it happened.” That sticks for a long time. Thank you for writing this.

  20. Here from the Creme de la Creme.

    You describe so beautifully my own feelings on many of the issues related to family-building, loss, and destiny. I agree with you that both choice and the universe play a role in the major events in our lives. What you said about how “it was only meant to be because it happened” is such a wonderful way to put it. I take it to mean that only the past is fixed. The present and the future can change based on our decisions.

    Thanks for sharing this wonderful post with all of us.

  21. I think the “meant to be” is a two-fold crutch – “meant to be” is an explanation for any unusual series of events that leads to an unexpected (or fortuitous) conclusion. “Not meant to be” is a validation that one is right to give up after beating one’s head against the wall over and over with no discernible results. Either way, I think it’s people’s way of clinging to the idea of meaning in life. But, as someone said above, sometimes random things just happen. So, I try not to use that phrase in relation to anyone other than myself.

    Here from the Creme…

  22. “Meant to be” is only a validation in hindsight. We can take whatever we want from it.
    I envy people who can see it as more.
    Great post.

  23. Great words of wisdom, as always, Luna! : )

  24. I’m here from the Creme. I appreciate your post. I am struggling with my faith (or lack thereof) amongst my struggles with IF and found your post very well written. It is something that I will think about often while I’m on my journey.

  25. […] Universal Role (September). An exploration of faith in response to the idea that families are built in accordance […]

  26. A beautiful post with a profound thought. Thank you for sharing it.

  27. How the heck did I not comment on this when I first read it?

    This I love love love: “It was only “meant” to be because it happened.”

    I like the way you discern between the passive and the active voice behind “meant to be.”

    Brilliant post, Luna.

  28. Lovely post.

  29. From Creme – I believe in GOD – for me he/she/it is a mish-mash of Jesus, Buddha, Mary, Ganesh, Allah – I find a spiritual line of thinking that resonates with me and roll it into my God world view. I am a strong believer in everything happens for a reason – because if this shit is random I just couldn’t take it. I see the connections but I look for them actively. For me that is my truth but the best thing about my mish-mash faith is how spacious it is in acknowledging and knowing that everyone has their own truth and they are all equally true. I think that is why this post resonated with so many people – its the truth. Even if you don’t agree with it – it is still your truth. Thanks for sharing it.

  30. I loved this post. First of all, I appreciate your stance on G-d and his part in the world. I too have a hard time hearing about how He never gives people more than they can handle and things of that nature (if that were true there wouldn’t be suicides). I am not a religious person, but I study Buddhism and believe is it’s teachings about the world – basically that you get out of the world what you give to it and bad things can happen but that is just the way the world is and what matters is how you respond to those things. Anyway, I think you are right, the tragedy you suffered just happened, just as this amazing opportunity just happened. It’s hard for people to think that such significant things can happen without a greater purpose or meaning, but that is how the world works. The world is full of suffering and joy, and all we can control is our reaction to it.

    PS I LOVE your theme! (It’s the same as mine 😉

    Creme de la Creme #125
    Creme de la Creme Iron Clad Commenter Attempt 2010

  31. […] weren’t our “competition” but rather that we would find just the person who was “meant to” (for lack of a better term) find us. Just as we didn’t want to reject openness out of fear, […]

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