Self * Friends & Family * Adopted Child * Birth Family * OUTSIDE FACTORS
This is the last installment of this series. Over the course of a month, I interviewed a number of adoptive parents with the goal to write a single post. What I walked away with was a wealth of information from people who love adoption, and, by extension, love you. To read the other pieces on the five things you should know about adoption, click on each link here: on yourself, on your friends and family, on your adopted child, and on the birth family.
This piece is to catch what didn’t or wouldn’t fit into the other categories and will focus on any outside factors that surround the topic of adoption. Of course, every adoption is different which means what has worked for one family may not be possible in another situation. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t learn as much as you can from people who went before you and are years down the road with their uniquely made family.
1. Tell your child they are adopted
This is important for so many reasons. Fundamentally, you want to be honest with your child - don’t allow your child the opportunity to question their trust in you. Starting the conversation will feel hard, but it gets much easier once the ball is rolling. Chances are, your child will bring it up. They probably won’t come right out and ask if they are adopted, but one mom shared a time their child saw a family friend who was pregnant and asked, “Did I grow in your tummy too?” She hadn’t expected the question, but it prompted the conversation; she finished by telling her. “You didn’t grow in my tummy, but you grew in my heart.” Her child was about 2 when this happened. This might seem young, but the younger you start, the more natural and easy the conversations will be. There are some amazing children’s books available for both you and your child to help facilitate and answer questions that come up during these conversations.
2. Lack of information is normal
If you are adopting internationally or have a closed adoption, not having much information on your child is normal. This includes medical information. It might sound odd, but just be confident in your lack of knowledge. No need to apologize to the doctor, or do a bunch of explaining to the school. It’s perfectly acceptable to keep saying, “I don’t know” to people when they ask questions about the birth family. There are some adoptions where the birthdate is uncertain, or the age is a guess. It’s okay. Pick a date and an age and move forward. It really is okay. If you are in serious need of finding genetic history or predispositions, there are many kits you can order through the mail and get this information. If you are doing a fost-adopt, you can even try genealogy websites, though they typically tell virtual connections a new family member is found, so be aware of this and check with your agency to make sure this is copasetic.
3. Do your research
This was mentioned by two parents who both had international adoptions. They said to be aware that corruption could be involved. At their suggestion, I’m going to leave it there and simply repeat their advice: “Do your research.”
4. Your family dynamics will change
This seems to go without saying, but multiple people kept saying this. Sure, they knew they were bringing a new child into their family and they needed to make sure their vehicle fit everyone, but there were many things they didn’t think about. One set of parents simply forgot what it was like to have an infant in the house. Another mom said she knew what she was taking on with a new infant, but the last time she had babies they could stay home all day. Now she had a teenager and an elementary school kid that had school, sports practice, extracurricular activities, and more. Having a baby while also getting her older kids places was something she never really focused on. A dad told me all his close friends had kids the same age as his other kids. No one he knew had a baby and he wanted to expand his friend circle to include people who had an infant too. Moreover, if you already have kids, make sure to include them when you talk about changing logistics. Will they share a room? Or do they leave things in the living room and will no longer be able to do that? Do they practice a musical instrument that will need to not happen during nap time? Do they have a regular place to sit in the car and will need to move because a new car seat will need that spot? Think about things from their perspective and talk through with them why these changes are being made. Sibling rivalry is normal, but it’s always nice to keep it at bay as long as possible.
5. Satan hates adoption.
I mentioned this in a previous blog, but it’s worth having its own bullet point. You are on the front line doing some major spiritual battle. And just because your adoption is finalized, it doesn’t mean Satan is done messing with your family. The Bible describes Satan as a thief who comes to destroy you and a lion who comes to devour you. Some of the sweet families I spoke with shared how there were times in the past that they were on the brink of divorce. Another parent said one of their children struggled with suicidal thoughts for a while. I’m brilliantly happy to report that every family I spoke with is currently happy and thriving. But all of them said to keep praying. Which, to be honest, is Biblical. We are told to “never cease praying” (1 Thessalonians 5:17) and to “be of sober spirit, be on the alert” (1 Peter 5:8).
So, as you continue on this journey, remember, it is a lifelong journey that holds countless blessings and numerous rewards. It will be hard. You will question yourself and you might even question your God. But it will be worth it. I promise you. And with that, I’ll leave you with Philippians 1:3-6.
“I thank my God every time I remember you. In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now, being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.”