Meant to Be: Adoption and Magical Thinking

 August 27, 2012

With my trip to El Salvador and then Disney I’ve been away from blog world for a while.  (Well let’s face it I’ve been away for a long while before that too.)  It seems while I was out an article in the NYT Motherlode Blog created quite a buzz in the adoption blog-o-sphere.

In the article there is an interesting albeit small survey by a doctoral student at Northwestern University, who interviewed 38 adoptive parents most of whom told her that their children had been brought to them by “destiny”.

The three word phrase bantered about (perhaps a phrase I have used myself) was “meant to be” as in, our adopted child was meant to be part of our family.
The author of the article categorizes this type of thinking as “magical thinking” (in fact he categorizes any religious belief that includes belief in the supernatural to be “magical”). In doing so he insinuates a certain degree of incompetence and ignorance and as a Christian it feels patronizing if not fully insulting. But I don’t want to get stuck there. Instead I want to consider the assignment of destiny and fate to adoption.

It is an interesting concept, because if my daughters were meant to be in our family then it stands to reason that the converse it also true… they were meant to be separated from their birth family.

Meant to be a family or
delusional rationalization of coincidence?
And yet, I think I would be hard pressed to find many loving adoptive parents who would proclaim their child was meant to be;  separated, born to a mother unable to parent, unwanted, abandoned, orphaned, abused, hungry, poverty stricken, neglected or born with a disability that prompted relinquishment.

So is any child truly meant to be adopted?

I think if we can somehow step away from the emotional connection we have with our children (which is nearly impossible since after all we are madly in love with our kids) we can, even in a Godly context, acknowledge that the road to our children was largely paved by circumstance, coincidence and a great many factors outside our control.

And I think most AP’s would conclude that our children were not fated by God or any other supernatural force to suffer the loss of their original family.  That part of their lives was an unlucky heartbreaking clash of circumstances.  No magical anything, just pain and misfortune.

And yet I have expressed the destiny sentiment myself… not because I believe there is a spiteful God inflicting pain on some while rewarding others, not because I think the stars aligned in my favor or because Karma was returned for my good deeds.  It is because of the crushing emotional tie I feel to my adopted children.  A connection that using poetic terms FEELS like destiny, fate, meant to be.   
For me it is simply an expression of the strength of my connection to them: one that is impossible to imagine any other way.  My three girls were somehow placed in my care and recognizing the randomness and sheer chaos of the circumstances that formed our family it is hard to fathom that we ended up together at all.  

To me it certainly FEELS as if we were meant to be.

And there IS something magical about that.
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