As I surf around the web I see a common theme, the idea of fate or God making things happen a certain way – good and bad.  You know, “wow, our daughter was born the ten years to the day that my beloved grandmother died.  They are connected.”  Or  “on the day our daughter was found, we were painting her nursery.  We were preparing for her, while she was moving toward us.”  It feels so cosmic, so right, makes it all feel meant to be.  Hubs and I had an experience like this while waiting for BB, which you can read about in my Feeling Fortunate Post, in which I tell the story of our fortune cookies predicting our match date for BB.  Really.  When I tell people the story, they often tell me they get chills.  This is all very well and good, I suppose… when things are going well.  But what about when the gods and fate aren’t working in your favor?  What then? 

I’ve been lucky enough not to have much of this tossed at me, but I know others who have and I’ve gotten angry on their behalf, so I can imagine if it was more personal.  I work with people who have sustained serious traumatic brain injuries (TBIs).  Once someone told me the story of a loved one who had sustained a TBI, but through the “power of prayer” had been fully healed.  I remember feeling fury at this and oddly wondering why, as an atheist, it bothered me so much.  All I could think of was my clients and their families, many very religious families (I know this), who would also have prayed.  The implication seemed, their power was weak?  They didn’t pray enough or right?  God didn’t care about their loved one very much?  Maybe they weren’t the right religion.  Or maybe it was something else?  Who am I to know the mind of God?  How do my clients and their families make sense of their tragedies?  Many believe they are “here for a reason,” damaged, but saved.  It’s interesting how everyone’s rationale is different, depending on the outcome.  The danger, I guess, is in tossing these things around, claiming personal connections to the gods, the fates, when others, well, they are left out… not special.  That was what irritated me, not that I believed that one family was truly chosen by God for healing through the power of prayer and others dumped, despite their asking.  Because, I know more about the medical issues of TBI, how some are just more serious than others, some will heal fully, some will be very disabled, some will die.  No, what irritated me was the belief in being chosen. I suspect they weren’t thinking of all who weren’t chosen (no, they aren’t mean people) and if they did, the thinking I usually hear is, “God had a different path for them.”  Then shouldn’t the first family be just as happy for a less than perfect outcome?  Then why pray at all?  Why ask?  Isn’t it all God’s blessing to get what we get?  Isn’t the sickness as blessed as the cure?

I think of this when reading blogs by adult adoptees who say they are often put in this position when they attempt to tell others, including their loved ones, anything but the rose-colored version of adoption.  Adoptees who do love their adoptive parents, who are happy with their childhood, who do feel they belong in their adoptive families.  But, who recognize another side of adoption, a sinister side that sometimes hurts people.  All they want to do is point it out.  When they do, they are accused of being “angry adoptees.”  Some will say, “why don’t you talk about the positive side of adoption?” and many try, but they also say that it’s being done.  The puppy dog and daisy side is all over the internet, the media, society… and it’s true.  When we are approached as a family, because we were obviously formed through adoption, we are told… no, BB is told, she is lucky.  We respond that we are the lucky ones and I reinforce this message to BB daily.  But it is constant.  Adoptees are lucky.  Why?  Because of what they get… a better life, life outside an orphanage, life in a richer country, life with better education… many assumptions made, some may be true, but assumptions just the same.  I’ve never heard anyone follow the adoptee’s history further back to the loss.  She lost her parents.  She lost her country.  She lost her culture.  She lost her language.  This we do know.  The gains, they are assumptions.  Isn’t it strange that we make assumptions about the gains, but pretend the losses never existed?  Yet, when anyone else speaks about loss of this magnitude, it is considered greatly and we mourn with them.  We try to make it cosmic, “it was meant to be.”  It was God’s plan that you came to us.  But what does this say about the losers?  Do the fates mean for poor parents to lose their children?  Does God mean for parents in China, governed by the One Child Policy, to lose wanted children?  If the gods or fates meant for these children to be with us, why not bring them to us in ways that so many didn’t have to be hurt?  And if I pray for myself to win, might I also be praying for someone else to lose (someone like a child, something like a football game)?

So, for me, I don’t deal in blessings and prayers.  I believe my life is just what it is, some of it in my control, some of it not.  Some of it I handle well, some of it I don’t.  Although I happen to enjoy our fortune cookie that predicted our match day story, I don’t believe there was any Divine Intervention.  It’s just a cool story.  Life is full of them… and we move forward with our own plans.


5 Responses

  1. Two great minds ;-).

    You really put into clear words what I’ve been pondering recently.

  2. If fate conspires for some, then it conspires against others. Some of us rise and fall with fate’s great wheel. Some of us know fate is not so cruel.

  3. I don’t presume to know the whys of life but I am overjoyed that you have BB and I have gotten to meet her and be in her life. Being around her restores something in me.

  4. i think it’s semantics, sometimes. for those people who prayed for healing, that was their own comfort, their own way of feeling comforted by an answer. had that answer not come in the way they had prayed for, my hope is that they might have then prayed for strength to face whatever lies ahead for them, to have the courage to face the challenges of caring for a child/loved one (whatever the case) who is permanently or severely limited or alternately -abled. like you said, they were not malicious in their prayer, discounting the prayers of others families.

    i got on my knees in my darkest hour and literally asked God to stop it. to stop him from leaving, to stop the downward spiral of our marriage. i was STRICKEN and sobbing and beyond grief. a woman came to me 2 weeks later who hadn’t seen me in years and asked to pray over me (i cringed, not my thing) but i was so out of it i let her. at the end of it, she leaned down and whispered in my ear: “God is going to turn all of your tears into joy. your greatest joy is coming”.. how did she know i had even had anything to shed tears over? and i knew! we would not divorce!! prayer answered!!

    7 months later, it was final, and my mother had passed,and the adoption was never completed. i entered my darkest hours… and those hours lasted years. and in them, i realized from our greatest suffering God has the power to bring us closer to ourselves (if you believe in God) or WE have the power to get closer to ourselves and to God… and that from our greatest tragedies, GOOD can come from them.

    but at NO time was God orchestrating my life, planning each step, or writing the lines in the chapters: “now he will leave, and she will be in even more pain”. NO. HE CHOSE TO LEAVE. we have free will. God is not some freaking micro manager of our lives!

    and so, when it comes to adoption, nor did he “plan” for my child to be abandoned. LUDICROUS. my child was not “meant” to be with me- but FROM her greatest tragedy- (perhaps)- losing her first parents, came the best possible solution… (second best would have been to be adopted IN china by Chinese parents, 3rd best by parents of Chinese descent, then me). i know my place and i am deeply humbled by it. and i am honored and privileged to have the chance to parent such an amazing kid. i wouldn’t trade it for anything, save the ability to give her back everything that was taken from her by the will of man: govt policies, inability to access needed medical care, etc etc the list goes on.

    the God i know is not a God that punishes nor a God that “meddles”, but rather one that constantly calls us to be better versions of who we are… we answer, or we don’t.

  5. I highly recommend the book Brightsided by Barbara Ehrenreich (had to look that spelling up!) – it addresses this very topic, most personally from the perspective of her own experience with cancer, but also its pervasiveness throughout society – that the flip side of “The Secret” and everything that preaches that if you want something badly enough, pray hard enough, it will come, is that it tells those who don’t have a happy ending that it is their fault. Really an excellent, funny, and incisive book. No connection, just enjoyed it. YMMV.

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