Q: I was adopted as I child. I can't help wondering -- why did my mom give me up? Why would any mom put her child up for adoption? I've been aware of the situation since I was small, and on the whole I'm very happy with my life, but I can't get away from nagging thoughts and doubts about my birth mother; like, didn't she care enough about me to raise me herself? How can I process these feelings?
Jim: It's easy to understand why you're continuing to struggle with these kinds of questions. Almost every adopted child goes through the same experience. You need to understand that under certain circumstances it can be very difficult -- even impossible -- for a woman to bring up a child. Perhaps your birth father was not living at the time. Maybe he had gone away and left your mother alone. In either case, she may not have had enough money to provide for you, or she might have been in ill health.
There might have been any number of reasons why your birth mother chose adoption, and felt it best to be out of the picture. It's especially difficult if there's little or no way to find out anything about her background, heritage or circumstances.
Obviously, we aren't in a position to know the facts. But there is one thing I do know: Your birth mother must have loved you very much -- enough to give you life and make sure you were raised in a loving home where you would be well cared for. She made a courageous choice. Maybe someday you'll find the answers to your questions. But for now, hang on to that.
If you'd like to discuss your feelings at greater length, our counselors would be happy to help. Call 1-800-232-6459 or visit FocusOnTheFamily.com.
Q: My girlfriend and I know we want to be together long-term. But we both grew up in broken homes, and we dread the thought of divorce if things go sour. It seems safer to just live together. We know other couples who seem happy with that approach, so why shouldn't we do the same?
Greg Smalley, Vice President, Family Ministries: It saddens me that so many people think the best way to avoid the pain of divorce is to skip marriage entirely. They say they don't need a wedding ring or a piece of paper to prove they're in love.
Living together outside of marriage is nothing new, so there's plenty of research available to help determine if skipping the wedding really helps couples stay together. As a Christian, I think there are solid moral arguments against cohabitating. But even for those who don't share that worldview, the weight of the evidence shows that the odds are against couples who don't make a formal commitment to one another. Studies also indicate that cohabitating undermines the chances of future marital success.
It's not feelings of love that makes a marriage endure, but commitment. Every relationship will encounter ups and downs, and there may even be times when the two of you don't like each other very much. One study showed that married couples are 10 times more likely to stay together through difficult stretches than those who cohabitate.
Married couples are also happier on average. That's because a thriving commitment helps husbands and wives feel safe with each other, and that enables them to build deeper love and intimacy. As the song says: "Put a ring on it."
If you really want to avoid the pain of divorce, the answer isn't to skip marriage altogether, but to commit to marriage wholeheartedly. That's how you build a relationship that will last.
Jim Daly is a husband and father, an author, and president of Focus on the Family and host of the Focus on the Family radio program. Catch up with him at www.jimdalyblog.com or at www.facebook.com/DalyFocus.
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