Friday, August 21, 2009

The Story of My Adoption

I had the privilege of speaking at Dartmouth's weekly ecumenical chapel service in April. My sermon is finally available online, and I thought I would share it here. The theme for the term was love, and I spoke about the first sign of God's love in my personal life - specifically, my adoption at birth. The sermon was titled "Never Unloved: An Adoption Story." You can read it all at the Dartmouth website. Here's an excerpt:

They say you have to be crazy to see a shrink, and since I have no problem admitting I'm crazy, I have no problem admitting that I saw a shrink all through high school. He once asked me if I ever felt abandoned because of my adoption. My answer was the complete opposite of what he expected to hear: Of course not! If anything, my adoption makes me feel more loved and more wanted. Adoptions, unlike births, don't happen by accident. This Houston couple-and my damn Yankee father would surely hate to be described as part of a Houston couple-went out of their way to find a child, and I was that child. My birthmother, who we'll call "Wendy," was no different. She didn't abandon me; she painfully yet purposefully chose to give me a better life. Everything I have ever experienced, from Cub Scouts to Dartmouth, is the result of these gifts from God: Wendy's wisdom and maturity, and the Empsalls' love and patience...

[My younger brother] Chris and I straddled a cultural line: I was born in 1987, when most adoptions were still closed, and he in 1990, when most were open. We actually traveled to Austin to meet his birthmom before he was even born.

This bothered my parents. They called Marywood to say, "This isn't fair. How come we get to meet Chris' birth mother, but not Nathan's?" And here it is again, God's love and guiding hand: Wendy called Marywood with an identical request that very same day.

In preparation for the meeting, my parents told me who it was we were going to meet. Shortly after that conversation, Marywood called again to say, "Wendy is really nervous. Could you perhaps tell Nathan she's someone else - an aunt, an old college friend, something like that?" It was too late for that, but Wendy's nervousness washed away the moment she walked into the room. I'm told I leaped up off the couch, ran over to her, and said, "I know who you are! You're my birth mommy! I was in your tummy, but not where the food goes!"

1 comment:

Anonymous said...


What a wonderful story. All of us live in a world that's composed of a strange mixture of love and hate. I'm glad you chose love. That's more important than any measure of the erudite arguments we all like to get involved in.