At the moment I smell like about four different perfumes, and each time I get a whiff of one, my heart stirs and I get a little teary. They are from the friends I got to hug at an adoption finalization this morning. People who, like myself, came to court to support a family that we all love who were officially and legally and forever-and-ever-amen welcoming a sweet little three-year-old girl into their family. I could not possibly be more proud of them. They opened their hearts in a way that many never even consider, and now this adorable, playful, lovable little girl’s life is changed for the better FOREVER.
Adoption is not for the faint-hearted. At least so goes the adage. But through my own experience, and by watching others like our friends in court today, faint-heartedness is probably going to be part of the package. In the end, not only is that not a disqualifying factor in choosing to adopt, it ultimately doesn’t really matter.
My husband and I adopted our two little ones, Harrison and Clara, just this year. We went from nine years of every-night-is-date-night to terrible twos and spit-up on all items of clothing at all times. We became parents overnight, and the faintness of our hearts was exposed on a regular (read: moment-by-moment) basis. There was ugliness and tears. A lot of them (on my part). We felt faint-hearted. Ill-equipped. In WAY over our heads.
There was pain–a lot–of it, if in different ways than we expected. But ultimately, none of that mattered because they are 100% worth it. And even though those two little words (“worth it”) seem a very feeble and almost anecdotal summary, it is simply true. Anything worthwhile—really, truly, eternally valuable—comes with trials. And for those things/causes/people we will suffer all things necessary without a second thought about it to make sure they happen. Because they are that important.
Harrison and Clara are that important to me.
But of course you expect me to say that. I am their mother, after all. But at one point, I wasn’t their mother. I didn’t know them. They were strangers belonging to another stranger. Their plight wasn’t known to me, nor was it my concern. And yet they needed me. And thank God we found each other. Thank God.
Okay, Lyndsay, what are you getting at? is probably what you’re wondering. Here it goes: it doesn’t matter if you’re faint-hearted, strong-hearted, or any other kind, it’s likely you have what it takes to love and care for children who need a forever home. It’s likely you could. Maybe even should. And it’s also likely you’ve never really considered it. At least not seriously. Or if you have, you’ve easily dismissed it because of the difficulties adoption presents.
True, as I’ve already discussed in broad terms, adoption is HARD. And, as I’ve also previously mentioned, it’s still worth it. Because the children are worth it. That said, there are a few concerns that I hear fairly often that I’d like to try to rectify, in hopes to ease your mind a bit.
1. Adoption is so expensive.
First, ahem, can we really say a child is too expensive? Yikes. But, yes, some adoptions cost upwards of $40k, which is not really what most of us have sitting around in our pockets. Usually these are international adoptions, and if you feel this is the absolute right route for your family, there are LOTS of fundraising options available. It may take a long time—years even—but the child waiting for you is absolutely, no questions asked, worth it. Additionally, there are far less costly options. For instance, you can adopt directly through your county’s foster system for little-to-no money at all. My husband and I adopted through the foster system, but chose to use a private agency to take care of all of the details. It cost us around $2000 when all was said and done.
2. Adoption is a terrible emotional rollercoaster.
Well, yes, it can be. There can be lots of risks involved that open the tear ducts and cause the heart to bleed. And while there are adoptions that are lower risk (ours was through an agency that only dealt with low-risk situations, meaning, very basically, that there was almost no chance our children could be removed once placed with us), the rollercoaster is part of the worthwhile process. Keep in mind (and maybe create a pep talk for yourself) that you will not die from this. I would exhort you to keep before you the child who is in a far more emotionally tumultuous situation than you and is far more vulnerable than you who is waiting. You can endure for their sake. You can find courage for them.
3. We don’t have fertility issues, so we don’t need to adopt.
While adoption is a wonderful option for those who struggle with fertility, the inability to biologically parent is not the qualifying factor for adoption. Whether you have biological kids already or have the ability to do so mean absolutely nothing to the child who already exists in this world with no adult to parent him/her. Wyley and I do not have infertility problems that we know of. And while our choice to adopt first (and maybe exclusively) is perhaps less common, it is an option for anyone.
4. I can’t love a child that isn’t “mine”.
The bonding process is different, yes. Can you love a child that didn’t come from your loins? Of course you can. You can make that choice. You can open your heart. You can do it. Because that child will be “yours”, just as much as the little tiny bundle was that you carried home from the hospital. Will it be exactly like it was with your biological children? Maybe. Maybe not. While I haven’t personally experienced both sides, I know a good number who have, and I think that they would all agree that it is, in fact, possible/probable/definite. In the end, the love that you can give them is infinitely better than the love they’re not getting in their present circumstance (something I had to remind myself of many times while I was beginning to bond with my kids).
I realize this isn’t a comprehensive list. There are likely countless objections swarming around and doubts and insecurities that are worth addressing. The important thing is that they get addressed, and they aren’t just used as tools for dismissal. Lay them out on the proverbial table (or literal table) and really look at whether or not they are good reasons for not choosing adoption for your family at some point. Talk to people you know who have adopted and get their input about some of your hesitations. Call an adoption agency and get more information.
I am by no means insisting that adoption is for everyone. I am insisting that it should be prayerfully, solemnly, seriously considered. As in, sit down with your spouse and have the conversation that starts with: “Let’s talk about adopting,” and then go from there.
Lastly, bear in mind that Jesus is our ultimate model. This is precisely what He did when he became a man. He made adoption possible by means of His suffering and death. While we were still sinners, Christ did this for us. While we were still strangers, He bled on a cross so we could be family. What amazing love!
*Photos by Sarah Maizland Photography