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In Honor of Adoption Awareness Month

November 12, 2019

The Sacrament of Adoption – by Jeannine Peters, a Woman of Malvern

Jn 19: 26-27

When Jesus saw his mother* and the disciple there whom he loved, he said to his mother, “Woman, behold, your son.” Then he said to the disciple, “Behold, your mother.” And from that hour the disciple took her into his home.

I looked down at her little tear stained face. Another night of hard times, another night of spilling her hurts all over the place in anger, confusion, and frustration. I don’t know how to fix it, how to make everything okay for her, how to get her to understand how deeply loved she is. “I think you love Belle more than you love me“, she said with eyes filled with pain and fear that the answer might be true. “That’s a hard thought to live with,” I said. Her eyes watched my face carefully. “Is that what you think adoption means, less than?” I asked. She nodded slowly, eyes filling with tears of loss and abandonment. “No, my love, adoption does not mean less than,” I said. Her look needed me to tell her more. Only by the grace of God was I able to explain to her the reality of our own adoption as sons and daughters of a good and loving Father, not in some neat little packaged way that dismissed the deep pain of her life, but in a way that showed the depth of the sacrificial love of Our Lord. In a certain sense, adoption brought about the most powerful and meaningful event in human history – the passion, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. He willingly stretched out his love on a cross to ensure our belonging in God’s family for no other reason than we are loved and we are His.

According to the Catechism of the Catholic Church, a sacrament is a visible sign instituted by Christ that signifies divine grace, signifies an invisible reality. In other words, it does what it says it does. The family created through adoption is no less an icon, a window, into the trinitarian love of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, than a biological family. And it is the sign of the hope and redemption of our humanity. It says that we belong to one another in the family of God, not by bloodline but by salvific love.   

But adoption is born out of pain and loss: the pain of the birth parents, the pain of the adopting couple, and the pain of the person adopted. It is a dying to one’s present circumstances and allowing oneself to be poured out in love for the sake of another. It’s only fitting that we should see it instituted by Christ at the foot of the Cross where we all go seeking solace for the brokenness of life, watching and waiting to see what God will do next. And never expecting that He would give us to each other. My daughter’s birthmother has given no less than her very self to me and my husband. As adoptive parents, we have given no less than our very selves to our daughter. And our daughter has surrendered no less than her very vulnerable self into our hands and hearts. All without attachment, without conditions, except with a love and trust that stretches our hearts wide and binds us together as one family in Christ.

“No, my love, adoption is not less than. Adoption means that you are loved beyond all costs because you are precious, because you are you, and because you belong.” 




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