Beautiful Intersections with Adoption
An Interview with America World Adoptive Mom and Author, Abbie Sprünger
Journal entry, September 2015—Woke anxious, wrestling with what if’s. “What if we don’t connect with her picture, or know whether we’re a match…?”
January 2016—Some days I remember You’re a perfect Father, with perfect timing, at work on every square inch of planet Earth. But most I don’t. Most I feel hurried and worried. I just want her home, Lord.
To start, tell us a little about yourself.
I suppose, first, I’m an unsteady saint, radically loved by Jesus in all my warts and worries. Thereafter, I’m wife to Micah, and “Mom” to our four children, including Aaliya, who we brought home from India six years ago (her “Gotcha Day” was actually June 2nd). We’re the caretakers of Wesley Gardens Retreat in Savannah, GA. These summer days, you’ll likely find me on the bleachers of a baseball field, changing a diaper, or at our local pool. Or when downtime arises, naps, tea, and books are a few of my favorite things.
We hear you recently wrote a children’s book.
I did! It’s been an honor over the years to write multiple books, but What Is Beautiful? has been my favorite. With whimsical illustrations and hopefully clear communication, it unpacks what it means to “be-you-to-the-full,” concluding that that unveils God’s true beauty in us.
What is your understanding of true beauty?
Most days, we forget how beautiful we are and, worse, internalize the opposite. We forget that we’re sculpted by the Hands who created beauty. At its core, though, I would say beauty resides within each one of us. It may take some searching to find it, and grace to remember it, but it’s completely accessible every hour of every day. True beauty flows from beauty’s Maker, God. And the image of God is stamped onto us at the moment of conception, so learning the beauty of Him, and therefore the beauty of Him as told through each of us, His beloveds, is one of the most crucial journeys we can embark upon.
How can moms best help their daughters grasp this?
Thank you for asking this, because moms play an enormous role in shaping our daughter’s definitions of beauty—usually the most enormous role. More than anything we ever say, our daughters will be influenced most by what they see of how we view ourselves and the world around us. Beauty runs deep in our stories, and our perceptions herein are one of the most influential parts of us. So if a mother doesn’t know her own beauty, seldom will her daughter (without a lot of soul work). My best advice, then, no matter what age, is to keep peeling back one’s distorted views of beauty, and leaning deeper into God’s views of it. Knowing who we are in Him, as chosen & beloved & full of beauty, is one of the greatest gifts we can reflect to our daughters.
Tell us about raising a daughter with HIV.
As many of you know, for India, one must adopt a child “of special needs.” That can range from simple to severe. When Micah and I first went down the list, we checked about 1/3 “Yes, we’re open to a child in this bracket,” 1/3 “No,” and 1/3 “Maybe.” HIV+ was a maybe. Neither of us knew much about it, aside from horrific AIDS images years back.
AW kindly said our whizzed-through list needed more work; we were to have a max of two “maybes,” and all other special needs required a clear “yes” or “no.” Research & conversations quickly led us to realize how manageable HIV can be in our developed context. India is not so, of course; countless babies will be left on clinic porches, or in trash bins today, given their “positive” diagnosis and a birth mom knowing her child stands no chance at life otherwise.
As of six years later, Aaliya is the healthiest of our four children immunity-wise (maybe due to living in an orphanage for 1.5 years?). You wouldn’t know from her smile, or pink bike racing down our driveway, that a deadly virus encamps within. Every day, however, over 400 babies are still born with the virus, which for countless reasons, need not be so. Nor does it need to be a death sentence. To continue changing that narrative, I’ve chosen to give $1 of every What Is Beautiful? sale toward fighting HIV.
I guess I would just say that God is rarely as hard on us as we are on ourselves. So be gracious to yourself, and invite others into that grace, too. Understanding and living out our adoption as image-bearers of our beautiful God is a lifelong journey. It can’t happen overnight and takes on different shapes through different seasons. But at the beginning, middle, and end of every day, He calls you “fearfully and wonderfully made,” “precious in His eyes, and honored, and He loves you.”