by Jim Tsantles
Jim and Tracey Tsantles live in North Carolina with their 11 children. Having completed nine adoptions in fifteen years, the Lord continues to direct them to the hearts of their birthmothers. They desire personal contact with their children’s birthmothers when the circumstances allow, and their long term desire is to see birthmothers come to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ.
We asked Jim to share some of his insights on a subject that is often intimidating for adoptive parents: writing a letter to their child’s birthmother.
Writing a letter to another person can be a challenge, period. Writing a letter to a woman who gave her child to you through adoption is another thing altogether! What do I write? What words do I use to express my gratitude? How will she feel about what I include or don’t include? It can be an awkward and daunting task. As you gather your thoughts for your first or next letter hopefully our encouragement here can be of help to you.
A love for souls
Pray before writing and while writing! “Lord, what would you have me say to her? If I were receiving this letter what kind of things would I want to read about? Oh Lord, give me a love for her soul!”
You see, the child you’ve adopted and the mother willing to make an adoption plan are both souls that will live eternally! Where they live eternally is the question that should concern every Christian. In the Scriptures, the apostle Paul sets an extraordinary example for us to follow. The dramatic turn he makes from Romans 8 to Romans 9 is soul-rattling.
In chapter eight he takes the reader to the soaring heights of the believer’s freedom from the bondage of sin (“there is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus”) and the beauty of the indwelling Holy Spirit (“crying Abba Father”), and in the next chapter turns to his immense heartache that his fellow Hebrews will be eternally condemned without Christ!
Paul’s love for their souls is clear when he expresses his emotions of “great sorrow and continual grief of heart” and adds that, if possible, he would forsake his own salvation for theirs. It’s unthinkable that this is the same man who oversaw the stoning of Stephen! His hatred and venom was converted to genuine love for others by the great “Lover of Souls.”For my wife and I, the Lord has pressed it heavy upon our hearts that the children we’ve adopted and the birthmothers who’ve given them life are all souls in need of salvation, just as Paul’s former Hebrew heritage was. We understand clearly that we’ve been entrusted by Him to bring His children up in His “nurture and admonition.” But we also desire to minister to their birthmothers.
The picture we have in our minds is the welcome home celebration of the saints in heaven where my son embraces his birthmother and calls her “sister” as they walk together hand in hand with their Heavenly Father! When that day arrives, the question of who gave birth to him and who raised him will be completely lost in the glory of the Almighty!
You see, the call of the Christian is to think and minister Heavenward! So consider your letter writing to a birthmother very much a work of evangelism and our duty to take the Gospel to the hearts of those in need.
Warm & winsome
Practically speaking here’s what these underlying beliefs translate to for us in our letter writing. First, we often use these letters to express a deep love for her soul and for the gospel that can free her. Second, the letters and pictures we send are designed for her to see through the eyes of her child and his or her experiences in our home.
We often write as if it’s the child speaking directly. For our current nine month old it may include fun and silly things like, “I made mommy and daddy belly laugh yesterday because I was making silly noises and blowing bubbles from my mouth!”, or, “They keep trying to sit me up but unfortunately I roll over like a sack of potatoes!”
Finally, we encourage you to make your letters warm and winsome in an effort to be a Gospel witness to your child’s birthmother. Our long term goal, provided it’s healthy for our adopted children, is to have ongoing dialogue with our children’s birthmoms.
As each of our children grow into adulthood we pray that He would fill their hearts with compassion and joy to enter into Christ-centered and God-honoring pursuit of the souls of all within the circle of influence — including their birthmothers!