My 3 yr old daughter took this pic of me

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Should I adopt?

Adoption isn't something that is thought about much. If you are married or not married, have kids or don't have kids, your life is the way it is and you go about your day to day tasks and then do it all again the next day. And the next. You work, run errands, prepare meals, eat, sleep, clean your house, spend time with friends and family and then do it all over again. Life is good. Life isn't that complicated. Ok, well sometimes it is, but have you really thought about adoption?

As a Christian, I believe that everyone should be involved with adoption in one way or another. That sounds crazy and ridiculous, I know, but hear me out. The Bible says in James 1:27 "Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world." I'm pretty sure that the word "visit" in that verse doesn't just mean go over for coffee. There are so many ways to impact the lives of widows and orphans and bringing a child into your home to be a part of your family is only one of them. 

Here are some ways you can be involved:

  1. If you know an adoptive or foster family, ask them how you can help. Ask them to be specific with their needs or let them know what things you would be able to offer. (More on this in another post.)
  2. Sponser a child. Or children.
  3. Go on a short or long term missions trip.
  4. Seek out the widows and single moms in your city and commit to being a support for them. 
  5. Volunteer at a women's shelter.
  6. Pray.
  7. Get your church involved with orphan ministry.
  8. Offer regular respite to a foster/adoptive family.
  9. Donate $ to orphan ministries.
  10. Donate $ to a family that is adopting internationally or privately. 
  11. Host a fundraiser for a family adopting internationally or privately.
This list is NOT exhaustive by any means, but you can see that there are a lot of things that you can do that will make a huge difference. So what should you do? 

Some things that you should know if you are thinking about adopting/fostering.....

In my last post Our Foster/Adoption Story Part 1 I said some things in the first paragraph that, at the time, I truly believed, but later have discovered are not true. I thought we would "save" this child and they would become a part of our wonderful family, that they would complete our family. I thought that it would be challenging, but not that hard. I had thoughts like, "Well, this child's parents were not properly caring for their child and since they couldn't get it together, their child is now my child and that family is not a part of our family." That is so not the case. You are not fostering/adopting a child by themselves. You are taking a family. A history. A culture. And whatever comes with that.

In some cases, it is not appropriate to have contact with the family, but if it is appropriate - it is best for your child. They need to know who they are and you can't erase that. If you do, it may tell that child that they are from something bad (and maybe they are, but that doesn't make them bad and we don't want to send them that message). Find the good and focus on it. 

With our first placements, we were reluctant to embrace the family because we didn't know better. We thought we would "replace" that family. That causes confusion for kids because that family is a huge part of who they are and if you don't try to embrace it, it is like you are not fully embracing that child. With our second placement, Little Flower, we noticed a huge difference in the way she felt and responded when we started embracing her family. Her eyes lit up. She relaxed and wasn't uptight about going on visits. She saw in our eyes that everything was ok. We even put up pictures of her birth sisters and parents in our home and talk about them often. She is much happier and less confused. Her family is just bigger now and she has more people that love her. Kids need to know who they are and where they are from.

Imagine, for a second, that you have lost your child for whatever reason. Your child is in another home with another family. Your child. Would you want that family to erase you from your child's mind? How would that make you feel towards that family? How would it make you feel if they instead focused on the good things about you and taught your child to love you and remember you? How would that change how you felt about your child being in that home? 

Adoption is not easy. It is wonderful and beautiful, but not easy. Every child who is adopted has experienced great loss. You are not saving them. Yes, you are giving them love and the best life you can, but it is traumatic for a child to be removed from their birth family. It is incredibly sad. Yes, they are safe now and being loved and fed and cared for, and that part is good, but they have experienced profound loss. They are not "lucky".

When a child is placed with/adopted by you, especially an older child (2+ years), you will most likely have a honeymoon phase. It is so great. You can't believe how perfect this child is for your family and how well your birth kids get along with this new child! It's like God hand-picked this child for you! So perfect! Enjoy this phase because the next one is not so fun. After a few months (for us it was 3 months) things get tough. And they may stay that way for several weeks, months, or even years. You may have thoughts like, "Have we made a mistake? Maybe we weren't supposed to adopt this child. I really can't even stand this kid!" These are actually extremely common thoughts. You will probably feel like you are alone in this and that you are a horrible person for even thinking this way! 

But you are not alone. When this phase hits, you need to be ready. Take all the training you can get your hands on. Understand any disabilities or delays your child may have and know how to help your child. Ask as many questions of professionals that you can. Set up regular respite (if you can get one or two people to regularly commit, that is better for the child). Get enough sleep. Eat well. Get your child any professional help they may need. You may need to talk to a therapist yourself and that's ok! Surround yourself with people who understand and know what you are going through. You will get through this!

Adoption can be hard on your marriage. It can add a lot of stress and if your marriage is not strong, you could be in trouble down the road. Adoption doesn't end once the child comes home, it is only the beginning. If you are going to adopt, you both need to be on the same page. Make sure that this is something that you both want to do so that down the road, when things get tough, you aren't hearing, "Well, this was your idea....I told you so......this isn't my problem". You need to support each other. 

And the last thing I'm going to mention in this post is don't forget your birth kids. An adopted child tends to get a lot of attention (especially if they are a different race) and your birth kids can kind of get left behind. Be intentional in your relationships with all your kids. Cut them some slack and help them adjust to the new child in the home. Take them on one-on-one dates as often as you can - even if it's just alone time with mom or dad in another area of the house. They need your support, too. 

These are things that you will want to discuss and look further into if you are considering adoption or foster care. I know some of that may sound scary or that you may be thinking, like I did, "That won't happen to us", but I want you to be realistic and learn from the people who have gone this road before you. I also want you to know how amazing and fulfilling and wonderful adoption is. Anything incredible is worth working hard for. This will change your life. I can honestly tell you that I have no regrets and if I could change anything, it would be that I had made myself more informed at the beginning in order to be a better parent and advocate for these kids from the start.



1 comment:

  1. Such great points! So much good information here. I think these are important points for people to consider before adoption. I also agree that there are other ways to become involved in adoption other than actually adopting.