My wife says I said it. I don’t believe her. I’m far too spiritual to say something so err….unspiritual. It was in a conversation over 10 years ago now that she suggested we adopt a child. My answer was short and sweet. “No.” And then apparently I followed it up with, “And don’t pray that God changes my heart on this one.” Apparently, she did, and so did He.
I can’t imagine how many couples disagree over this very topic each and every day. How do you know if you should adopt? When you play mental gymnastics over the topic, you can easily end up fast-forwarding to the worst case scenario for your family and then justify not moving forward. For me, that worst case involved adopted kids killing their new parents. But…I’ll save that for another blog post.
Someone sent me this Facebook message just a few weeks ago. It read:
I am not sure even where to begin with my questions but I have had the idea of foster parenting on my mind ALOT lately. I know that you and your wife have been fostering and I would like to know your experience. I need to know the great, the bad and the ugly. It is a more scary thing to consider than I thought it would be. There are so many needs and special needs and behavioral needs. I know God will equip us but just needed to hear from someone in the trenches. If we do decide what agency do you go with? How (other than prayer) do you decide? Thanks for your time!!!
Years ago I wrote a post entitled, “Fostering and Adoption: How To Decide If You Should Do It.” If you haven’t read it yet, I’d highly recommend it in addressing that very question. That post addresses many of the particulars behind that question. Now…
Why is fostering or adoption so scary? For me, it had to do with the unnecessary burden placed on my family. Why would we voluntarily add more chaos to our family when the sound of little children already made my blood pressure spike?
I think the reason why fostering or adoption is so scary is because it involves letting go of control.
These days, the vast majority of couples decide IF they will have kids, WHEN they will have kids, and HOW MANY kids they will have. But adding a child to your home from somewhere else is a risk. I mean, what if the new kids are crazy, wild, undisciplined, emotionally damaged, or altogether broken?
The reality is, the kids that end up in foster homes have a story. That story is often a terribly sad one. What I’ve come to realize is that God has charged his people to run toward these kids – not away from them. This requires dying to our selfish desires, and laying down our own interests for the sake of another.
Is it always good and easy? This answer to this question is a resounding “no.” I’ve thought about the fact that most pictures I post on Facebook or Instagram are cute, happy pictures of our new kids. In the heat of the moment of tantrums and tears, I’ve never thought about taking a picture of them to post it….that is, until now.
This is our little girl, Hannah. We were out to eat recently with all 5 of our kids. Like all kids do at times, Hannah was just in one of those moods. She would get upset at just about anything. We finally asked her to go sit against the wall about 10 feet from our table until she could get self-control. I snuck this picture while we waited for her to get it together.
Fostering and adoption isn’t easy. It won’t be like bringing your biological baby home from the hospital. Each and every story is different, but they are almost all full of hurt, pain, and brokenness. I wish I could describe it better, but there is something so beautiful about stepping into the lives of these little ones and being a conduit of the love of Christ to them. Each time I do, I’m reminded of God’s adoptive love toward me.
Has it been good for our biological kids? The answer to this question might surprise you. Honestly, I think our foster and adopted kids might be the greatest gifts we have ever given our biological kids. That sounds dramatic, I know. But it is true. Our kids have learned so much through this process. A few highlights:
- Compassion. Our kids have heard horrible stories of families that have imploded. It has caused them to look at life differently, even at young ages. I have been so proud to see their care and concern for foster siblings turn into care and concern for others in their class at school.
- Selflessness. When you add kids to your family, that means more hands that grab toys from others. Our kids have gotten so frustrated by this, yet at the same time, they’ve been forced to learn to share that which is most precious to them.
- Strength. When foster kids arrive at your home, they are scared. After all, their families have just imploded. I’ve noticed our kids step up to care for them from the get go. It’s as if they realize they have something to offer, so they offer it. I believe it’s revealed strength in my kids – strength they didn’t know they had.
How do you pick the agency? For me, the answer to this question was simple practicality. We researched many different agencies in our town. The question we focused on was “What training do you have to go through to get certified.” This question helped us narrow our options dramatically.
Most agencies required people to come to their office once a week for 10 weeks. With my travel schedule, we just couldn’t do that. In contrast, Methodist Children’s Home told us they would make their training fit our schedule. So we went with them, and we’ve never been disappointed we did.
What other questions about fostering or adoption do you have?