A few years ago I spoke at a banquet held by a Christian adoption agency. The banquet wasn’t for the adoptive parents, but rather for the birth-moms. Most of them were young. One girl was a popular student and had high hopes of being the Homecoming Queen her senior year of high school. Instead, she gave birth to her daughter that year. Two of the others girls were only fourteen years of age. I asked one of them to share her story with me. It was short and to the point.
“Well,” she began, “I didn’t know that you could become pregnant the first time, but obviously you can. I slept with my boyfriend in the backseat of his car one night and ended up pregnant.” She told me while staring at the floor. Then, looking up at me she added, “And let me tell you…it’s not all that!” I replied with what I though was good advice.
“Honey, it’s not all that until you’ve been married several years and you figure out what all that is and does.” Most people laugh when I share my reply, but let me explain. I wanted to give her hope for the future. I figured eventually she would find true love and get married. I didn’t want her to dread the holy act of lovemaking instituted by God for the husband and wife. It really is a beautiful thing.
After the banquet, the birth-moms got into their pajamas for a slumber party, so I put on my pajamas too and joined them. The agency had contacted the adoptive parents and asked that they put together a photo album of the adopted child as a gift for the birth-mom. It was at the slumber party that they presented the birth-moms with these gifts. Before each one opened their present, they told their story through tears of grief, shame, and guilt. The agency workers were use to tears. I was not. I cried right along with them until snot hung from my nose. I wanted to hold them and hug them until their necks fell off. They were too young to carry such pain.
As I lay in bed that night, I wondered, how did these wonderful girls get into this situation? Did their parents have a clue as to what was going on in their lives? Sure, I saw God’s hand working through the mistakes of these girls’ to bring sweet little blessings into the lives of couples who otherwise would have never known the joys of parenthood. On the other hand, these girls, although they were at peace about placing their child, carry inside them a grief that was never meant to be.
I felt terror creep into my heart as I considered the possibilities of it happening to one of my own children. It could. It could happen to yours. What can we do to stop it? Love them more, spend more time with them? Be sure to communicate how special they are to us? Yes. You and I needed to do all of that.
Wise parents realize that children are a gift from God and communicate that to their own. (Psalm 127-3) Eve is a good example of this. After giving birth to her son, Cain, Eve said, “I have gotten a man from the Lord” (Genies 4:1). “I have gotten” means “to acquire.” The word she uses for Lord in this statement means YHWH, or one who can be relied upon. Eve knew that God was the source in which her son came. In the bible, children are represented as blessings from God. They are not our achievement but a gift of God’s divine grace and blessing, and Eve understood this.
No matter how much you and I love our children, if we don’t take the time to listen or be involved in what interests our children, then, in a sense, we’re saying you are a burden instead of a blessing. Children need our time and attention. It’s how they spell love. Trust me. The years pass all too quickly. I’m reminded everyday how little time I have left with my children. I want to make the most of it for their benefit and mine.
As parents, we can build lasting loving relationships with our children by becoming interested in what they are interested in. Whether your child likes, music, drawing, sports or tinkering with cars, wise parents will learn as much as possible about the subject. Once you and I begin to show interest in what they like, we’ll find them more willing to tell us about their day instead of offering us the usual, “It was fine.”
As you and I become intentional about building relationships with our children, then they will begin sharing more than their interests and hobbies. They will share their hopes, dreams, fears, hurts and joys—all the things you so desperately want to know.