My adoption story

Part 1

2 Truths and a Lie – my adoption story (part 1 of 3)

Have you ever heard of the game 2 truths and a lie? It’s a mixer game you play at camp or on a church retreat where each person shares 3 statements about themselves  – 2 statements are true and 1 is a lie.  The other people in the group try to guess which statement is the lie.

Now I’m a pro at this game because I have a secret weapon.  The key is having one truth that is really outrageous and sounds like a lie.  My truth in 2 truths and a lie is that “my parents were at the circus when I was born”…and since people assume that my parents probably weren’t carnies, they assume that one must be my lie!

My parents really were at the circus when I was born. I’m sure they were having a great time with my older brother , but I was at the hospital…being born.

The explanation:  I was adopted at birth.

Dad and me

Anytime I share this with people, there are 5 0r 6  questions that generally follow:

  • how old were you when you were adopted?
  •  is your brother adopted?  
  • who named you? 
  • do you know your biological parents?
  • do you want to know them? 
  • when did you find out you were adopted?

Do you have other questions?

I’ll answer these and share some more details in my next post :)


Part 2

Frequently Asked Questions – Adoption edition (part 2 of 3)

So here are my answers to the standard adoption questions I get:

  • how old were you when you were adopted? Everything was arranged before I was actually born, and my parents brought me home when I was just 5 days old.
  •  is your brother adopted?  No, my brother is my parents’ biological child. The adoption agency my parents used had a cool policy that if a sibling was old enough, he could go back with the caseworker and actually carry the child out to the parents.  So my brother, Jeremy, who was six years old when I was born, got to carry  me out and give me to my parents the day they brought me home. Now, I have to tell you that I did not look exactly like a gerber baby at that point.  I had been delivered with forceps, like big tongs that pull you out by your head.  The forceps actually left a slight indentation on one side of my face and temporarily pinched a nerve, which made my mouth hang down on one side so I had a crooked smile.  I also had spiky dark hair…go figure.  But when my brother carried me out in his six year old arms, he presented me to my parents and said, “Isn’t she pretty? Doesn’t she look just like me?!”
  • who named you?  My parents…my [adoptive] parents.
  • do you know your biological parents?  No, but I know the general circumstances of their lives – they were young and unmarried.  When I was adopted 29 years ago, the majority of adoptions were closed adoptions, so the adoptive parents were told very little about the biological parents.
  • do you want to know them?  I’ve not sought out my biological parents and i don’t have plans to, but if I were to meet them, I’d have nothing but gratitude to express to them for their courage and selflessness in giving me a chance to have the life I’ve had.  My mom tells me that when I was about 5 years old, I went through a short time of asking a lot of questions and she would tell me as much as she knew.  She says I told her that my biological mother was probably at the mall or at a party and we should go find her there.
  • when did you find out you were adopted?  I don’t remember a time when I didn’t know, it seemed to me to be totally normal and frankly, ideal, to have been so sought after by my parents.  I used to tease my brother that I was clearly the favorite because I was the expensive child…

I’ll share some reflections on my whole adoption experience next time.


Part 3

Ridiculous Grace: Adoption and the Gospel (part 3 of 3)

For me, being adopted has always been a picture of God’s total sovereign control over all of  the specific details he lovingly orchestrates in our lives.  Over time, I have come to recognize a theme in my life of what I call ridiculous grace.

I’m talking about the times God intervenes in our lives in such  flagrant, extreme ways.  He interrupts the logical order of things, and turns everything upside down in the best way possible.  He took me from being an unplanned pregnancy, to being a pined-after much wanted “chosen child” in a family where I have been inordinately  loved and adored.

And there’s the gospel – things were going along one way, but God intervened, and changed everything, not because of anything I deserved as a crooked faced baby with a dent in my head, but because he’s God and he’s good and he’s sovereign.

And he’s always flashing his grace like a neon sign so that there is never any doubt about who is in control and the love that stands behind all of that sovereignty and power.

I’ve always enjoyed sharing my experience with friends and people around me.  Growing up, a lot of friends didn’t believe me because I looked so much like my parents.  When I would visit my grandparents and their neighbors would say “you look just like a Gabrysch”…I’d quickly respond with “I’m adopted”, like it was a punchline…I thought that was cool and I think I liked the way it kind of threw people off balance.

Growing up in my family and looking more and more like them physically was just kind of a cool “extra” but once again, for me it was the gospel flashing on display.

It’s exactly what God does when he adopts us into his family…it’s a picture of what Christ has done to come and save us and bring us to the father.  And when Christ, our elder brother, presents us to his father he says, “Isn’t she pretty, doesn’t she look just like me?”  And the father who loves and accepts us because of what Christ has done on our behalf,  begins to see to it that that is exactly what happens and we grow in his grace to look just like our elder brother.

A whole new meaning

In the past few years, my experience of adoption has taken on new meaning in a lot of wonderful new  ways.  Watching my brother and sister in law adopt my nephew, Nate, and seeing how he is so clearly a part of our family since before the foundation of the world, I ‘get it’ on a whole new level.  I had the immense privilege of going to the final court appointment when Nate was legally adopted as their child.  That is the ceremony after the first few months when a judge has to pronounce that the adopted child is legally yours.

When the judge was finishing the proceedings, he said “when I drop this gavel, it will be just as if Nate had been born to you”…and I felt like I was in the inner circle with Nate and knew what he would one day know, that that was the truth, and that it had been that way since long before the gavel dropped.

And as I watched my brother with his eyes welling up with tears hold his now legal son, I knew that it is great to be right with the judge, but it is so much greater to be loved by the father.  The one who would stop at nothing to have you.

And again the gospel was flashing.

Beyond a characteristic, toward a calling

In the past few years, this theme of adoption has become a part of my daily professional life.  Having been adopted, I’ve always assumed I had somewhat of a near-miss in that my biological parents may have considered the choice not to continue with the pregnancy, and so I’ve always considered myself naturally and fully pro-life.  But for a long time I generally compartmentalized the abortion issue and thought of it as a sad-but-true reality of the world we live in. When it came to politics, I was fooled into thinking that I was too “enlightened” to be a single issue voter.  I started thinking a lot about the Life issue during the 2008 elections, and as I learned more about 45 million lives lost since Roe vs. Wade, I felt called to not only vote on the issue – but to do much more.

God faithfully provided a job for me at an organization called Heroic Media.  We’re a national organization based here in Austin, and we use mass media messaging on television, radio, the internet and billboards to connect women in crisis with help and hope at pro-life pregnancy resource centers.

As I learned more about the circumstances surrounding so many unplanned pregnancies, I saw the hopeless nature of many of those situations.  I felt called to share with women about hopeful alternatives.

See, I was born out of what I imagine at times felt like a hopeless situation, but because of God’s providence in giving my biological parents the courage to give me life, I have had a life defined by hope.  I want other people to have that, to see the picture of redemption and hope that is played out in all of our lives as we are adopted by God in Christ.

For me, being adopted has been an indescribable gift, and the fact that it helps me win at 2 truths and a lie is a pretty cool fringe benefit.

God has given us an indescribable gift in adopting us as sons and daughters. And I believe you will find that the gift of participating in the earthly version of adoption, is a pretty fantastic fringe benefit.


12 responses to “My adoption story

  1. Pingback: Pray, Act, Support | MarshaGarbage

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  4. What an awesome & beautiful testimony! Thank you for sharing 🙂 I too am adopted, well half-adopted 😉 My mom had me when she was 19, biological father unknown, then got married when I was 8 to the man who would adopt me, give me his name & call me his own. So blessed to be alive & loved!

  5. pameladonica

    Oh my goodness…just read your adoption story this morning. Absolutely beautiful! I have four amazing children…all joined our family through adoption…all unique and special…and all possess some family characteristics. Thank you, Marissa!

  6. Jeff

    I thank God for His grace and guidance in leading your parents to you! Our daughter is also adopted (at age 4.5 years) and people have always commented how much she resembles us. You were greatly blessed by having a loving family in your life from the beginning. Our daughter is from a Russian special-needs orphanage, and arrived in our lives carrying a lot of baggage. God’s love overcame all the problems!

  7. Robin!

    I always got those questions too. I loved being asked and now I love it even more since I am married to a wonderful man that is adopted, we go to a church that has more adopted people in it than non-adopted. My kids say they laugh because they are a few of the non’s. We have not adopted but help those in our church family that do and donate to adoptions.
    I was also a baby who was banged up at birth so bad my parents couldn’t get me for 6 weeks until the bruising went down. My poor birth mother is what my mom used to say. She said “you looked so sickly I often wonder how your birth mom was doing” she was an incredible woman and loved my birth mom (whom she met) until the day she died.
    God is so merciful, he saved me from a grandmother that tried to have me aborted and through every thing she tried He kept me here to tell the tale so to speak. I love your story.
    LOL and no my brothers are not adopted……but my sister is! 🙂

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