Friday, October 22, 2010

The Ultimate Director

Alternate Title:  Why Pee-Wee Herman Was Never Cast as Darth Vader

A couple of years ago when I was with my mom she introduced me to a woman we ran into. My mom and this woman briefly chatted about their families and what was new in their lives and then the friendly exchange was over. My mom turned to me after the woman was out of earshot and quietly told me “She used to date dad when they were in college . . . before he met me.”

WHAT? The thought of my dad dating somebody other than my mom totally weirded me out. Then I got to thinking, What if my dad had married this woman instead of my mom? Would I even exist if that were the case? I suddenly felt strangely resentful towards this virtual stranger. Don’t get me wrong, this woman was nice and lovely and actually had quite an impressive resume- Harvard educated, college professor with numerous publications, etc. but she just wasn’t . . . well, she just wasn’t MY MOM.

This week I came across three different blog posts which resonated with me because they all share a common theme that happens to stir up a lot of thoughts and feelings inside of me, similar to what I described when I met my dad’s former girlfriend. I’ve come to call this theme (or debate, if you will) “agency versus destiny” and I’ve written about it at least once before, in this post. The blog posts I read which got me back on the “agency versus destiny” train of thought are these:

Blog Post #1- A certain birthmother shared the experience of meeting up with two of the adoptive couples whom she considered placing her baby with. The keyword here is “considered”; she didn’t actually end up placing with either of the couples although they were both fantastic families and would have made great parents. Instead, she placed her baby with the family she felt was right.

Blog Post #2- I came across a clip on a friend’s blog who happens to be a big fan of both Michael J. Fox and Eric Stolz of Stolz playing the role of Marty McFly in Back to the Future, before the role was offered to Michael J. Fox. As I watched the footage I kept thinking- “It just doesn’t feel right.” The directors were spot on when they said that it’s not necessarily that Eric Stolz is a poor actor (I happen to love his touching performance in MASK) but rather that Marty McFly just wasn’t the right role for him- it was a role much better suited for Michael J. Fox.

Blog Post #3- Adoptive Momma wrote about finding the “right” child for your family- even if that means saying “no” to other possibilities . . . and not feeling guilty for doing so. I couldn’t help but make the comparison of what people go through when they search for a spouse or boyfriend/girlfriend and try to find Mr. of Mrs. Right. Just because somebody wants to get married, for example, doesn’t mean they should go out and marry the first person that comes along. On the other extreme, they shouldn’t have any unrealistic expectations of perfection, either, because they’re obviously not going to find it. The best solution, in my humble opinion, is to search for someone who they are compatible with and then fully commit themselves to that person.

The same thing goes for adoption: Just because a family is trying to adopt, doesn’t mean they should adopt just any child- but rather their child. In other words, a child or children whom they are compatible with- even if (and this is the hardest part) it means HAVING TO WAIT FOR THE RIGHT TIMING AND THE RIGHT CHILD.

The frustrating part about going through the adoption process (domestically speaking, at least) is that now days a child’s birthparents are the ones who choose which family to place their child with, and rightly so. In other words, my family’s future is totally in the hands of someone other than myself. It’s a very out of control feeling to know that my desire for a child is solely dependent upon another person’s agency.

Why don’t you just adopt an orphan from another country or a child whom is legally free for adoption from the foster care system? Yes, I can hear some of your thoughts through the computer screen. Impressive, eh? As for adopting internationally, cost is the biggest factor and as for adopting a legally free child I have actually searched through photo listings- numerous times- but as of yet I have never found “my” child.

There are so many orphans and children in the foster care system and a few (relatively speaking) women out there with unplanned pregnancies who are looking for a family for their child and there are so many couples and families who are waiting to adopt. It seems so unfair.

It is unfair, but I’ve thought of a solution to both problems. HERE IT IS: Get a really, really big hat and put all of the names of all of the orphans and children in the world that need to be adopted into it. Then get another really big hat and put all the names of the families who would like to adopt in it. Someone randomly draws names out of both hats and Voila! A child is matched with a family! Heck, the same thing could be done for marriages. Everyone who wants to be married would be guaranteed a marriage partner. Genius, right?
As pragmatic as my solution may be I, for one, know that I wouldn’t want my destiny left to random chance. And I certainly wouldn’t want anybody to choose a spouse for me, except for, well . . . ME!

AGENCY is the key factor at play. But besides agency, there can also be another really big factor at play when it comes to something as major as creating families or deciding whom to marry. That factor- IF we choose- is the hand of God.

But what about disrupted adoptions and failed placements- do those situations arise from “destiny” or the will of God? Because those seem like awfully cruel things for everyone involved to go through. I don’t claim to know the answer to that question, but I can tell you this: Birthparents have the right to change their minds just as adoptive couples have the right to choose how, when and whom to adopt.

The big question I have in all of this remains: Will our next child come into our family because God has a hand in things or will the next child to join our family do so as a direct result of someone’s agency- either from a birthmother choosing to place with us or, in the case of foster care, as the result of a parent’s tragic choices which results in having their child taken away?

Am I the only prospective adoptive/foster parent out there who wonders things like that or am I just way too over-analytical?

Whatever the case, this is what I believe (using the Eric Stolz as Marty McFly example I shared at the beginning of this lengthy post):

I think that God is the Ultimate Director. He knows which roles are best suited for which actors. However, I also believe that actors can choose which roles to accept or reject, just as birthparents can choose to place or parent and decide whom to place with and adoptive families can decide which children to adopt.

Pee Wee Herman could have been cast as Darth Vader instead of James Earl Jones, but I’m pretty sure that’s not what George Lucas had in mind and the history of Star Wars would have been drastically altered by such a decision. Perhaps someone other than Julie Andrews could have played the role of Maria von Trapp in The Sound of Music, but really, can you imagine another actress who fits the role as well as she did? And Michael J. Fox didn’t have to say yes to playing the role of Marty McFly, but I’m glad he did because it just seems “right”.

I’m putting our next adoption and my trust in the hands of the Ultimate Director.

After all, He did a great job orchestrating our first miracle.


Scott and Becky said...

Just had to tell you, I have the very same thoughts and feelings. Not sure if it is because this is our second adoption and I can see how God orchestrated the first, but the waiting is ALMOST fun. It is just interesting to see how it will all play out. It is like a really great book, yes you could skip to the end to find out how it happens. But what is the fun in that? Part of the thing that makes adoption so special is the journey.

LeMira said...

I love this post, Mary. Thanks!

jendoop said...

Before I became a foster mom I would have taken a hard approach to this - a child is in need, and you want a child, take them!

Now that I'm in it and don't feel that adoption is right for us with the foster son we have now - I get it. Sometimes it's just not right and you may not be able to put your finger on it, or even if you can, you've got to go with that decision because everyone has to live with it forever. These are not trivial matters.

side note- When we were interviewing to foster, we asked the worker why foster parents who had a child for a long period of time weren't willing to adopt that child. Her response was that some foster parents just aren't ready for that commitment. Now that I'm in that position, or will be soon, I don't like that label. It has nothing to do with our willingness to commit.

Julie said...

I loved this post! It is so very true. We have one bio child and two foster babies. Everyone is always excited when these little babies come into our home. I am too... its kind of contagious. Everyone's thoughts always turn to adoption. However, I am torn at the thought of it. Yes, we want to grow our family and love these little ones... but to adopt them would mean their parents fail. I really hate to hope for these parents to continue making bad choices and losing their agency b/c of their decisions. I am glad to hear another voice in the foster community and Church like yours :)

Richards Family said...

Thank you for sharing these thoughts. As an adoptive mom, and one who is waiting yet again for another child, it is so hard to wait sometimes, yet what you said it exactly right. Our first foster child was not a good fit and it tore me up to ask for a placement change, because in my thinking - why would I give up a child when we are desperate to have children? Yet in the end, I was grateful that we made that decision, because he was not the right fit and as hard as it is to wait, I keep telling myself (especially on days when I don't believe it), that the Lord will send the right child/children to our home, just like he did the first time.

Leah Wentzel said...

Amen :)

kristi said...

Hi! That is so funny that you were there on saturday, I ran into another person today that was there too! Crazy! I love to tell my story, I don't feel like I can be truly grateful to God unless I share it. And I was shaking like a leaf up there, that was my first time doing that :) I'd like to thank you for your story and your thoughts too, that you've put on here. Thank you for trusting the Lord and being such a great example to us all!

Shine said...

Asked that exact question over a gazillion times in the past year. What I'd give for a little knowledge from The Ultimate Director... just a little piece of mind. I don't want to know everything, just enough for some peace. :)