Adoption can be a scary concept. You have probably heard horror stories of a child that was adopted and through the experience the family or a marriage was destroyed. Most people won’t even consider adopting because they have deep rooted misconceptions:
1. An adoptive child is not the same as a biological child.
As with all misconceptions, there is always an element of truth. I rarely think about the fact that my youngest two (8 years and 6 years) children are adopted and my older two (15 years and 13 years) are biological. They all call me daddy, they all kiss me goodnight before bed (yes even my teenage boy), and 98% of the time the relationship is exactly the same. However, there are occasional differences. Here are couple of examples:
- On our biological children birthdays, we always relive my wife’s pregnancy and how I took her to the hospital in the middle of the night to give birth. For our adopted children’s birthdays, we re-tell the story of how we first met them. How we flew to Guatemala for Josiah or visited Nevaeh at her temporary foster home and how we held their sweetness in our arms for the first time. Guess which birthday makes us cry more?
- Though our adopted children are young, they have already made reference to their “real” mom. This is a process they need to work through over and over again. They will want to know as they grow up,”Why did my mom put me up for adoption?” or “Do my adoptive parents really love me like their own?” In these situations it takes maturity to not take this process personally. To not be hurt by the insinuation that we are some how “less than.”
However, though the experience is not identical, what is required of you as a parent is exactly the same. Countless times with our older children they have tested us and investigated the depth of their relationship with us as parents. A child, whether biological or adopted, is looking for unconditional love and guidance. In these moments children are simply begging the question, “Do you really love me? Am I the most important thing in your world?” The issue is NOT about adopted vs. biological. The right question to ask is: Are you able to look past your own insecurity and fear enough to see that their need for love out-ways those issues?
2. Adopted children are damaged goods.
Damaged? Who on earth isn’t damaged! Some of these children have experienced horrific things. Some more than others. They have had the person that was supposed to protect them abandon them, or even worse, they involved them in their addiction or sexual depravity. So, what is our response? “You’re damaged, and there is no hope for you.” Really? Any child, or adult for that matter, who has endured this kind of stuff needs love, guidance and discipline.
The older a child is when they have experienced these things, the more love, guidance and discipline they need. In other words, they are going to need more from you-at least at first. For this reason, I don’t encourage parents with other children in the home to adopt older children.
3. Adoption is not natural.
I am going to go all farmer on you … forgive me. When a cow with a calf dies, the calf wonders through the rest of the herd looking for another mother to get milk from. Many of the cows reject the calf. Eventually however, there is one cow who, without hesitation, lets both her calf and the newly adopted calf nurse. This calf then becomes her own and as God would have it, she begins to produce more milk.
Not only is adoption natural, it’s God’s plan for children without parents. God himself is an adoptive parent.
“A father to the fatherless, a defender of widows, is God in his holy dwelling.” Psalm 68:5
“The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship. And by him we cry, “Abba,Father.” Romans 8:15
4. An adopted child will eventually reject you as their “real” parent.
At some point in a child’s development, a parent’s relationship with their child,whether biological or adopted, is defined. You often see teenagers rebel against their parents and even curse them. There are many times where it seems that biological children have “rejected” their parents. However, when this happens with an adopted child what do we blame but adoption itself. This is so hard to admit for parents, but the real problem is that we are not perfect parents and our children are not perfect. I have seen parents raise some great kids and some that seem to lose their way. Adoption is not the problem.
5. I can’t adopt because I already have children in my home.
This is less of a misconception and more of a half truth. It is very true that you must consider the current children you have and make a decisions based on their age. For example, you would not want to adopt a teenager who has been exposed to sexual assault if you have little kids in the home. That’s just not wise.
In our case, we knew we needed to adopt very young. In most cases, I would not encourage anyone to adopt a child that is older then their biological children. In most any case where children are already in the home, I would encourage you to stay below the age of 7 or 8.
Adoption must be done wisely. There are mistakes you can make, but they are avoidable. The fear of the unknown should not keep anyone from considering adoption. It is an amazing thing to devote your life too! As I write this I am browsing through pics of my little family. Imagine if I had let one of these misconceptions keep me from seeing these faces every day.