Dear Counselor

Question from Rebecca Garver:

I am happily married. I have four children. My life is busy, but it’s happy … mine. I know I’ve shared a lot on how I grew up, all the homes I experienced, good and bad. One of my foster families are just … really incredible. I still have contact with them and love them dearly, and I know they feel the same. I’ve been thinking about asking them if they can adopt me. Now, I’m sure to the world this may seem strange or odd … but to me it would mean permanent … belonging. They’ve given me no indication that I didn’t belong already, but I wonder about making it permanent. I guess my question is whether or not this seems like a natural, reasonable thing to ask for … or if I should just leave it alone. I know that they love me regardless, they’ve proven that already. I am not of their flesh, but they love me as if I were … and this would be exclusively for me … not that it wouldn’t bless all of us, because I think it would … I don’t know, I was just curious how this could be perceived.

Dear Rebecca,

I’m thinking of the wonderful story The Wizard of Oz. Of course our dear characters the lion, the scarecrow, and the tin man all had something they desperately wanted because of a sense of missing something vital. For the lion it was courage, yet he proves in the story he has courage, he just doesn’t believe it. For the scarecrow it’s a brain, though we see he is brilliant in the things that matter, and as you know the tin man needs a heart, yet he has so much heart he won’t step on the bugs on the road because he’s sure he is heartless. Each of them have, in spades, what they think they lack.

But…what I appreciate is that you know you do not lack love. You are rich in family. You have made sure of it. That experience growing up, tough as it was, taught you what mattered. And while you state clearly that you know you are rich in love and family, adoption, or the discussion of it at least, could take the strength and the victory you found together way back there to the here and now in a celebratory way. You could have washed up on the beach of bitterness, but you did not. That took some intentional partnership between a daughter and her parents, some intentional swimming for a better shore. And you wish to put the icing on the cake by binding yourself to them legally in the role of daughter.

If you do this to fill the ache of the past I would say you have already filled the ache by the woman, the wife, and mother you have become. It is evident. You do not lack love and you are LOVEABLE.

If you do this to celebrate what they gave, to acknowledge it, the seed-corn they put in your hand that you have taken and along with your dear husband planted, watered, cultivated into a grand family, I say go for it and respect it.

So talk to them about it. I think that’s where the question can get settled.

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