To My Daughter: More Than Just A Pretty Face

Lies have been infiltrating the thoughts of women for centuries now. Some of the lies are: “If I become more successful or make a name for myself I’ll be happy. If my life looked more like hers or if I had that job I’d be happy. If I were married or if I could get pregnant I’d be happy. If I could lose a few pounds I’d be happy.” I’ve sat across from many successful and beautiful women. The world would say, “Their life must be perfect. They have it all: beauty, job, husband, children, etc.” More times than not each of these women have bravely shared with me about their struggles and the lies they fight not to be consumed by. The lies that tell them they aren’t ________ enough- not successful enough, not worthy enough, not pretty enough, not smart enough, not a good enough wife, mother, friend, employee etc.

Satan is the king of the “Lie Factory.” Since the beginning of time (literally), he’s aggressively been trying to lure women into doubting that what God says in His word is true. It all started in the garden. “Did God really say that?” Not all that much has changed. Satan still roams around like a roaring lion plotting to devour little Eves through lies about ourselves, God and others. He wants us to question God’s promises. He wants us to think we aren’t worthy enough for God’s word to hold any value for us. He wants us to be so focused on ourselves and consumed by our insecurities and self-perceived failures that we forget God’s ultimate purpose for our life-to make much of Him.

I believe Satan uses  “the comparison trap” as his biggest ally.  I remember falling into that deadly game dating back to middle school. The scars left on my body from cancer and the health issues I battled as a result made me feel so different from my peers and seemed to be in stark contrast to how I perceived the world to define a woman. And so, all though my teenage years and early college, I permitted others opinion’s of what is beautiful, valuable and worthy to define me. And so when I examined my life, I felt in many ways that I didn’t measure up. Through years of therapy, prayer and being really honest with those closest to me, I experienced freedom from the lies that used to torment me. And as God’s word transformed my mind, I came to realize how God would use all things in my life for my good and to bring glory to His name.

But, I’m not too far removed from that time that I’m not distinctively and overwhelming aware of the societal pressures placed on women. Even though I have experienced freedom, I still feel the pull sometimes towards those worldly standards and the lies that once consumed me. And it is because of my experience and knowledge that raising a daughter in this generation gravely concerns me at times.

Lately, when my 2-year gets up in the morning she has been proclaiming as soon as I walk in the room, “Morning, Mama! Hey, I a princess!” The other day I was cooking dinner and Ruby found a picture of her and her twin brother and brought it to me and pointed to herself, “Hey, I’m pretty!” I smile, as I know she has been listening to every single word we say.

In a world that is telling little girls and women of all ages, “you’re not enough” and “you’ll never measure up,” I want my daughter to know that her value extends way beyond what she sees in the mirror. Do I want my daughter to know she is beautiful? Absolutely. But most importantly, I want my little girl to be confident in the very person God uniquely made her to be. I want so much more for Ruby than self-confidence with her reflection in the mirror. I want her to know she is fearfully and wonderfully made and that God has a wonderful plan for her life.  In an ever-changing world of social media, standards and perfection, I long for her to know that the one thing that never changes, the one thing that remains constant is God’s unconditional love for her. In a world that is telling everyone that their value is found in what social media thinks about them, their appearance, employment or martial status, I want my daughter to not be fooled by this notion.

My prayer is that Ruby would know for certain that beauty isn’t just found in a pretty face. Rather, beauty comes in many forms-extending kindness, love and patience towards others, using the mind to bring about change in this world, being a strong voice for the oppressed and those who can’t speak for themselves, using humor to make others laugh, befriending those who don’t “fit in,” or using talents to bless someone. Instead of focusing all of her time and attention on cultivating outwardly beauty, my prayer is she would invest her time and energy in cultivating a beautiful soul, which can’t be done a part from Christ.

Some of the most beautiful people I’ve met had one trait in common: they cared less about what others think of them and invested their time directing others towards the ultimate source and creator of beauty-God. The National Geographic listed Antelope Island State Park in Syracuse, Utah as home to one of the most beautiful summer sunsets in the world. After a long day of traveling to this glorious spot, would it make any sense to pull out a mirror to look at yourself just as the sun is setting?  No, that would be considered foolishness. As the gorgeous colors were filling up the sky you would stand in awe and you would stare. You would realize the magnitude of beauty that is right before your eyes, as you point to your friends, “Wow! Look at that. Isn’t it the most beautiful sunset you’ve ever seen?”

Many of us have become so consumed by our insecurities and shortcomings that we forget our ultimate calling on this earth-to bring glory to God. We are constantly in the presence of the creator of beauty, the One who spoke the stars and sky into existence, and yet like the person pulling out their mirror during the most beautiful summer sunset, we forget. We forget that our calling on this earth isn’t to make a name for ourselves, but rather to move all attention and honor to Jesus. Do I still struggle with insecurities? Absolutely. But now I know where to fix my eyes-the author and perfector of my faith, Jesus Christ. God has the power to redeem us, transform our thinking and make us more like His Son, through His grace that was poured out for us. We forget because we stop looking at Christ. We forget because we look to other things and only find momentary satisfaction. In a world that is screaming, “Hey, look at me, look at me,” I want my daughter to know where her value comes from and to be able to say with confidence, “No, look at Him. Look at Christ.”

As mothers, this starts with us. If we long for our daughters to be confident that their purpose on this earth goes far beyond trivial things, than we have to lead by example. What is my daughter observing that I place my value in? Is she seeing that I treasure Christ above all else? Is she hearing me speak words of life and truth into our home?  Is she hearing mommy speak well of herself and other women? Or is she seeing a mama who is swayed by opinions and expectations of this world? I know for certain that our daughters are watching. They watching and they are listening. After all, my two-year-old daughter knows she’s a princess. I wonder who she heard that from?

Insecurities & Open Adoption

In the initial stages of the adoption process the thought of having an open adoption with a birth mother evoked some concerns and fear in our mind. At the time, our perception was heavily influenced by the media, our lack of education and a few Lifetime movies. But now having some personal experience in this relationship and as an adoption consultant who walks with families through the process, I understand the benefits of an open adoption to all three parties of the adoption triad.  Recently, I wrote a post debunking 5 myths commonly associated with an open adoption. Myths such as “open adoption is co-parenting” or  “open adoption is only beneficial to the birth family.” Today I will be discussing how our insecurities can play a role in negatively shaping the way we view an open adoption.

Early on in the process, I realized these misconceptions surrounding an open adoption not only stemmed from lack of education, but also my own deep rooted insecurities that had been brewing for many years as we struggled with infertility. I thought that if we had an open line of communication with a birth mother it would make me feel like less of a mother and be a blatant reminder of my infertility and empty womb. Perhaps I also believed the lie that an open adoption would somehow undermine my role as a mother. I quickly discovered a connection between my insecurities and the initial fear I had regarding an open adoption.

Throughout our struggle with infertility, I allowed my barrenness to define me. Many days I felt broken and the odd one out among my friends. There was a time when I equated “being a woman” with a growing bump and a positive pregnancy test. But when the growing bump never came and hundred of negative pregnancy tests later, my definition of “womanhood” didn’t fit. It was a lie. “There has to be more than this,” I said to God one night through tears after throwing another negative pregnancy test straight into the trashcan along with what seemed at the time, my hopes and dreams.

Over the next year the Lord carefully and lovingly removed the false identity I had unknowingly placed on myself. I was reminded through reading the Word, my personal suffering and talking with other friends that my identity is solely and explicitly found in Christ. For those who are a child of God, nothing from this world can take away the fullness that is found in Jesus Christ-not even an empty womb.

I’m grateful I had this “break through” before we started the adoption process, as I continued to carry this truth with me. Even so, reminders of my “old way of thinking” sometimes crept back in. When our home study provider began describing examples of what an open adoption looked like practically bitterness, insecurity and jealously stirred back up again. “I could never do that,” I secretly thought to myself. But, as we received education from our adoption consultant, read blog posts, listened to podcasts and heard stories from birth mothers, adoptees and other adoptive families we came to realize the benefits of an open adoption far outweighed any fears we had. We knew an open adoption wouldn’t be easy, but it would be worth it.

Where and who we find our identity in has a profound effect on the way we interact with others and respond to circumstances. When our identity is found in Christ-we are free to love others and embrace the uncharted waters  we may encounter without fear. Because my identity is rooted in Christ, and not on my role as a parent, I can embrace the beautiful reality that the twins have two mothers, with distinct roles, who love them immensely. Their first mama lovingly carried them for 9 months, brought them into this life and chose adoption for them. Their birth mother made me a mother. She gave them life and I have the privilege of raising them.  She chose us to be their parents because she felt it was in the best interest of her children. Can you imagine that kind of love? A kind of love and strength that it takes to place the baby who you carried in your tummy for 9 months, the baby who you felt kick, the baby you heard cry for the very first time, the baby who has your nose and your eyes, into the arms of another woman who her child will one day call “mama?” That is a self-sacrificing kind of love; a love I want my children to know.

Research indicates that on going communication with birth parents allows adoptees to have a deeper understanding of identity and where they came from, access to important genetic and medical information and a distinct understanding of why adoption was chosen, which can decrease feelings of abandonment and increase feelings of belonging. And so I propose this question: How could we as adoptive parents, knowing this truth, not take the opportunity to have an open adoption with our child’s/children’s birth mother if that option is laid before us? I’ve spoken with adoptive families who wish they had the opportunity to have an open adoption with their child’s birth family. They would give any thing to be able to answer some of their child’s lingering questions about where they came from.

If you were like us, and struggled with the thought of having an open adoption with your child’s birth family, I encourage you to take a few moments and examine yours fears, insecurities and concerns. Birth mothers have given adoptive families a piece of their heart, one that they are entrusting them with forever. There is so much love in that decision. Not only do I want my children to hear about her unconditional love from us , I want them to know her personally. In our mind, the more love the better.

***If you are interested in learning more about adoption and the services we provide at Christian Adoption Consultants, I would love to chat! Feel free to email me at kelly@christianadoptionconsultants.com and check out Christian Adoption Consultants for more information!***