Adoption is a funny thing. On one hand, it’s beautiful. It’s a small gospel-shaped window through which we can view our own adoption by God. It reminds us that we are not our own but belong to God. Yet on the other hand, adoption exists because sin has disrupted the order of creation. Infertility, broken families, children growing up without their biological mothers, fathers, or both are all circumstances that are less than ideal — it is a diminished form of the way things are supposed to be. Perhaps adoption can best be described by comparing it to the cross: Just as the gospel comes at the price of the cross, adoption comes at the price of suffering. Yet it is laced in a redemptive beauty, reminding us that we have been bought at a price.
Finding My Son is Eric Odell-Hein’s memoir of the journey that led to the adoption of his son. Like many incidents in the life arena, Odell-Hein’s story of adoption is not confined to a brief sequence of searching for a child to adopt, making some difficult decisions, and then finally signing the papers to complete that transaction. In fact, his story of adoption begins upstream from his own birth, and includes, in his immediate family’s history, an adoption, a medically recommended abortion, and an unplanned pregnancy, all of which likely influenced Odell-Hein’s adoption journey.
Finding My Son captivated me on the first page — and then pulled me even more deeply into the story, reinforcing a central theme of the book that every adoption is unique. Beneath the shared gloss that “a couple adopted a child” is a distinct untold struggle of trying to have children and of riding an emotionally taxing roller coaster of oscillating hope and disappointment.
Odell-Hein welcomes us as vicarious travelers on his adoption journey. He shows us the vulnerability and the honesty that were his necessities. He details the many processes that were part of the overall process of adoption — like deciding what race or ethnicity he’d want his child to be, and preparing his home for an inspection visit. Rather than simply saying “adoption can be hard,” Odell-Hein shows us the tediousness, the pain, the wrestling, the hope, the patience, and ultimately the joy that characterized his journey.
I heartily recommend Finding My Son to anyone — those who have adopted, those who are considering adoption, those who have been adopted (which includes all Christians), even those who have never given adoption much of a thought. The book provides a concise, yet detailed, picture of what the adoption process looks like. Its clear writing and easy-to-follow narrative create a necessary space to grow in empathy, not just for the author, but also for others who have their own unique adoption story. It can even bring us closer to God, our heavenly — and adoptive — father.
Finding My Son: A Father’s Adoption Journey by Eric Odell-Hein. Published by Redemption Press, 2018. Available from Amazon.com.