I Don't Have to Love You

I’ve been pondering over these words the last week, and what they really mean.  I had sent our birth mom, Chloe, a message of encouragement on Facebook and in her response she thanked me for being who I was and for showing her love even when I don’t have to.  Our open relationship and with her and her family is a choice we made after prayerful consideration.  But she unknowingly made me think about her words on a deeper level. No, I don’t have to show her love but instead chose to.  No, I don’t have to send her notes out of the blue, tag her in Ethan’s pictures, or send her flowers each year on Ethan’s birthday.  I don’t have to do any of those things.  And I chose to despite what the world may say or think.  I chose to show her the kind of love that Christ shows us.  Isn’t that what we are all supposed to do?  Yet how many times do we let differences in culture, lifestyles, and outward appearances dictate who we show our love to?  Raise your hand if you are guilty….ding, ding, ding…I sure have been plenty of times! 

’Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?’ Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself. All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.’
— Matthew 22:36-40

How many times have you heard and read this verse?  Even if you have never stepped foot in a church, you have heard this verse or some moral application of it.  But as Christians, we have a greater responsibility, a command – not a suggestion – to love your neighbor as yourself.  This doesn’t mean to love them only when they are lovable, if they look like you, if they act like you.  There are no caveats.  Plain and simple – love – no strings attached.

It’s easy to show love to those who are lovable or those who share our same values, or even look like us.  But love crosses all borders.  God never said loving was easy.  He merely commanded that we do it.  What if Christ hand picked who he wanted to love? What would be the purpose of a Savior who died for our – ALL of our - sins?   He didn’t die for the sins of those who looked like him or was free of all blemishes.  He died for the sins of all who know and love him. Because he is love.

So, where am I really going with this in relation to open adoption?  Well, if you are contemplating an open adoption then you need to realize that you can’t pick and chose being open only if they look like you, dress like you, or even have your lifestyle.  First you pray about it and ensure it is what God wants for your particular situation – it may or may not be for various reasons.  Open adoption is not cookie cutter and is certainly not for all situations. But if it is, then you as adoptive parents have a greater call than just to adopt your child and give them a life they deserve.  You are called to love the birth mom as well.  You are to be a model of Christ.  You may be the only ones that have shown her love unconditionally or “when you don’t have to.” If you have an open adoption, you are to adopt her into your family just as you have your child.  After all, she gave you the greatest gift anyone could through her most selfless of acts.

Most likely you and your birth mom will come from different backgrounds, will dress differently, and will talk differently.  And many people in your sphere of influence will question why you allow an open relationship with the birth mom for these very reasons.  They will wonder why you love her so much and are so open with her when you appear to be so different on the outside and by the world’s standards.  Frankly, they will judge you for it. 

Chloe and I have a uniquely open and close relationship.  We have different backgrounds, dress differently, and not to mention I am 15 years her elder. People stare at us in public trying to figure out the connection and how in the world we fit together.  And several times one of both of us have been told we look like sisters.  But you know what? I love it! It gives me the opportunity to answer those tough questions and to share our wonderful story with others.  It gives me the opportunity to say that I love her just the way the Christ loves me.  It gives me the opportunity to be a light in this dark world and to put my faith into action.  It gives me the opportunity to follow God’s command to love my neighbor as myself.  It gives me the opportunity to ”love when I don’t have to.”

It has been said that adoption is more like a marriage than a birth: two (or more) individuals, each with their own unique mix of needs, patterns, and genetic history, coming together with love, hope, and commitment for a joint future. You become a family not because you share the same genes, but because you share love for each other.
— Joan McNamara