Were you destined to be your child’s parent?

As we were taking the first steps on our adoption journey, I trusted that God would lead us to our child.

I wasn’t sure which country we would find our child in, whether that child would be a girl or a boy, whether she would like pickles or polka or he would like baseball or bugs, but I felt sure there was a child God had chosen for our family.

However—and this is a really big however—I never believed that child would be conceived and born just to become our child. The story is not that simple.

When I saw the title of this blog posted on The New York Times site, I knew I had to read it. As a Catholic, as a Christian, I don’t believe in destiny or magical thinking. I believe that God is the creator of heaven and earth, but I also believe that we humans have free will. The last quote in the piece, however, resonated with me, as a mother recognized how troubling it is to think that the children you adopted were always destined to be yours.

Now, please don’t misunderstand me. I absolutely saw God’s hand throughout our journeys to both of our sons. I believe he held these boys in the palm of his hand from their first moments of life, that he placed them in the care of loving, kind people, and that he ultimately guided them to our family. And I feel that God brought our boys into our family because he has specific missions for them that he feels we can help them accomplish as their parents. And we are so very, very blessed to have that role.

But to suggest that these children were created to be ours makes them sound like possessions we were entitled to, rather than gifts from God. It’s dismissive of their special, personal stories. It’s also disrespectful to the women who gave birth to them and had to make heartbreaking sacrifices. I cannot believe that God would merely use women in China as surrogates to carry and deliver children for adoptive parents in the United States.

And I feel sure that our loving God, whose compassion knows no limits, would never want one of his own beloved children to have to experience the tragic loss of a first family on the way to a forever family.

But tragedy happens.

Life is not perfect.

Exercising free will got human beings evicted from the Garden of Eden long ago.

And so, when Plan A for our sons failed, God was there to create a Plan B.

John and I are not our sons’ Plan A. But—and this is humbling to admit—adopting was not ours. Had God sent us children by birth, we would probably never have met Leo and Daniel. That is so troubling, but I can’t and don’t think about what might have been. After John and I were married, God blessed us with infertility and then opened our hearts to adoption—leading us to these children, our extraordinary sons, who match our family so perfectly and enrich our lives in countless ways.

I don’t call that destiny.

And I don’t really know what magical thinking is.

But was God at work in our sons’ lives from their earliest moments of life? And was he at work in ours as he prepared us for parenthood and guided us to China—twice?

Oh, yes. That I believe. His fingerprints are everywhere.


Catholic Review

Catholic Review

The Catholic Review is the official publication of the Archdiocese of Baltimore.