While Mother’s Day and Father’s Day aren’t official “church” holidays, they are celebrated on Sundays every year, making it part of the day’s events for many families in church. Whether the holiday is acknowledged as part of the worship service or not, we’re wise to recognize the state of mind and emotion present in adoptive and foster parents and their children on these days.
Any parent who has adopted has endured a lengthy legal process and rejoices because he or she is—at long last—mother or father to a beloved child. No matter how many years have passed since the adoption was finalized, this is a special celebration of the important way our children became part of our families.
Yet Mother’s and Father’s Day may also surface deep pain in the hearts of children, adoptive and foster parents, and those who are no longer parenting those children. Each part of the adoptive triad experiences grief differently; we cannot predict how they will experience these holidays. But it is important to recognize the spectrum of emotions that might exist in our congregations on them and to express sensitivity toward them.
For the child who’s confused about why one mother or father didn’t “love him enough to keep him,” hold space for his questions without judgment or easy answers.
For the mother or father who stands with their child in the deep waters of feeling rejected by birth parents—and, possibly, the neurological and mental health effects of trauma—allow them the fatigue and range of emotions they may be experiencing. Ask how you can support them.
For the mother or father who made an adoption plan for their child, recognize the ambiguity of their grief—they mourn yet their child still lives.
Life on this side of heaven is a co-mingling of pain and joy, as the psalmists often penned. As the body of Christ, may we acknowledge and honor the emotions and experiences of those in our midst—especially perhaps, on a day when they may feel differently than most. In so doing, we point one another to our Father who as adopted us with an unfailing, perfect love.
Kirsten Holmberg is a writer, speaker, and public speaking coach based in the Pacific Northwest. As an adoptive parent since 2004, her understanding of God’s adoption of her into His own family has grown and expanded. She is the author of Advent with the Word: Approaching Christmas Through the Inspired Language of God and He is… therefore i am. Kirsten speaks regularly at church and community events, encouraging others to step closer to Jesus and better know His love for them through His Word. Find her online at www.kirstenholmberg.com.