“For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the Spirit of sonship (adoption). And by him we cry, ‘Abba, Father.” (Romans 8:15)
Two years ago, my wife and I adopted our daughter. I can only imagine what it must be like to be a foster child awaiting that forever family to come along, a group of people you have longed for, and a place to have a new start on life, leaving the past behind and the troubles you endured behind as well. While I watched the excitement build on my daughter’s face, as we began to find out the final adoption paperwork was in the works, it was hard to understand the entirety of how she felt other than the obvious sense of relief and finality. Knowing where she has come from, there was a great sense of relief and calm that came over her as she realized she was now in her forever home with people who love and care for her.
Deciding to adopt was not an easy process. My wife and I lost track of the number of people who tried to convince us to pursue another approach. “Adopted kids come from such rough backgrounds and thus will be nothing but trouble” was the typical mantra that was sent our direction more often than not. Despite the push to choose an alternate direction, my wife and continued to pursue what we felt strongly God was leading us to do, namely to reach out to a child in need and to welcome that kiddo into our family as our own.
Anyone who has gone through the lengthy adoption process can attest it is not for the impatient nor faint of heart. Understandably, there is much rigor and a mountain of paperwork to complete on the part of the potential adoptive family. Adoption agencies as well as the state and federal government want to ensure the child is being placed with a family that is suitable for that child and in an environment that can properly address the particular needs of the child. For instance, some children might have educational development delays or physical handicaps that take the special care of a family who is able to meet those issues. Our daughter had a few educational hiccups in her early childhood due to the neglect of her biological parents. Due to that issue, we had to demonstrate our ability to address those needs and to ensure academic growth. We also had to ensure that counseling services were in place to continue moving our daughter forward emotionally from the trauma she experienced in her early childhood. All this took time, money, and sticking with what God was leading us to do.
Such things might serve to scare many people away from adopting a child. There is the inherent fear of not being able to care for a child with special needs or helping a child work through emotional setbacks. Many feel they are not a child psychologist or believe they could not financially afford such a journey. Quite frankly, there are certainly some who should not go on this journey of adoption. It is definitely not for everyone. With that said, if God is leading you to adopt, let me share a four points to consider.
Four Important Points about Adoption
First, seek out a quality adoption agency. Your adoption agency point of contact will be your lifeline throughout this process. There are a number of options to choose from. We utilized the services of Lutheran Child and Family Services. If they have a branch in your area, we highly recommend them. It is often helpful to ask those in your church or circle of friends who have adopted children, as to what adoption agency or service they used. Word of mouth and personal experience are helpful barometers.
Second, prepare yourself for a lengthy journey. We adopted a child from another state. One would have thought we were trying to adopt a child from another country given all the additional paperwork and red tape. There are many adoption options such as overseas, within your state, inter-state, and family just to name a few. Each option carries with it varying costs, timelines, and requirements. It will behoove you to first decide which path to take and when you proceed down that path. Part of the length will come from the inherent excitement that builds, especially when you have been selected for a child and you begin visitation. The final month until placement seems like an eternity. Remain patient, knowing that glorious day when that child joins your family will soon arrive. Anxiety will not speed the process up. Trust me…we tried.
Third, the honeymoon will be over rather quickly. Remember when you first got married how everything was sweet and happy go lucky? At least until you forgot to put down the toilet seat. The same thing goes for when the child you waited for so long finally joins your home. The honeymoon may seem like it will last forever, but be forewarned – it will not. These are children with often horrible pasts, kids coming from heartbreaking situations. Those issues will continue to rear their ugly heads. Your adoption agency and the training you receive before your child joins your family will help a great deal; however, you are never fully prepared for what will likely happen. You will need to demonstrate a great deal of patience, firm yet loving parenting skills, and a high dose of time spent in prayer and connecting with people who have been there and done that. Surround yourself with a group of people who can mentor you and take advantage of post-placement services your adoption agency can either provide or connect you with. Furthermore, by all means spend much time in prayer. God will get you through the difficult times and believe me, there will be many.
Fourth, never forget God reached out and adopted us into His family. As noted in 1 Peter 2:9, as adopted sons, we are a “chosen people, the King’s cohanim, a holy nation, a people for God to possess! Why? In order for you to declare the praises of the One who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.” What a glorious thing to grasp! We are part of the family of God. God is our Father.
As a father, I am still contemplating what that means, what my role is, and how to be the best father I can to my daughter. As an imperfect human, I know I will make my share of mistakes which likely will far outweigh my victories. Part of maturing in the role of a father is recognizing those failures and potential pitfalls and leaning on my heavenly Father to help me raise my daughter in the fear and admonition of the Lord. God our heavenly Father has no imperfections or failures. He is the perfect model of what a father should look like and our example as earthly fathers of what to be like with our children. When those hard times come as an adoptive parent, lean on your heavenly Father.
A Few Final Thoughts…
If you are at all feeling led to adopt, I highly encourage you to speak to an adoption agency or at least to talk with people in your church or whom you know that have adopted. This is not something to embark upon without much prayer and research. If you are being led by God to adopt, by all means do so. There are many children languishing in foster care and in orphanages in our country and around the world. We are called by God to reach out to these children in need. If you are not being called by God to adopt, you can definitely play a part in someone else’s journey. Individuals or churches can help out financially given the exorbitant costs often associated with adoptions, especially of children overseas. Take up collections of clothes, diapers, toys and anything else to help future adoptive parents. By all means if nothing else, pray for those going on this journey.
Adopting our daughter was one of the best decisions we ever made. There have been many rough patches along the way, but through those times we have grown closer to our daughter and we are seeing her grow up to be a wonderful teenage girl, full of love for God and others.