What Adopting Parents Want You to Know
My husband and I were returning from overseas with our newly adopted son.
We had spent 20+ hours on a flight with a screaming toddler, and I was pretty certain I had animal crackers and seaweed snacks lodged in my hair.
We stumbled off the plane like a pack of sleepwalkers and took the sky train to the exit that would lead to baggage claim. Standing at the top of the final escalator—bleary-eyed and bone-weary—we slowly came to realize what awaited us at the exit. Dozens of our friends and family (75+ people!) waited with open arms, the tears on their faces as sincere as our own.
I shouldn’t have been surprised. These faithful faces had been supportive of our news from day one.
My husband and I are often asked how we survived our 3-year adoption wait. (Like many adoptions, our process was fraught with miscommunications, hurdles, and disappointments.) My answer to this question is always a variation on this theme—
Our family and friends were, to us, God’s greatest gift in our lengthy adoption wait. They believed in our adoption as fiercely as we did, and on many occasions, their confidence in the goodness of God sustained our own.
Do you know someone who is adopting? If so, allow me to say a few things your friend or family member may not be able to say. Here are 3 reasons your encouragement during an adoption is vital—
1. Someone who is adopting is already aware of the ways “it could all go wrong.”
Your verbal support during an adoption wait is more valuable than gold. Proverbs 18:21 says, “Death and life are in the power of the tongue.” Imagine the impact your kind words could have on a weary soul.
Sure, you may have thought of some legitimate ways the whole adoption could tank, but your friend or family member needs you to believe it could succeed.
2. Someone who is adopting is trying to obey the Lord.
In most cases, people who pursue an adoption path are trying to do what is right. Sure, selfish people with unclear motives attempt to adopt, but most adoption journeys are difficult and expensive enough to weed out the insincere.
You may be able to think of a list of reasons you would never choose to adopt (finances, age, number of children already in the home, church responsibilities, etc.,) but sharing this information with an adopting friend or family member will likely not push them toward greater obedience. Hebrews 10:24 says, “And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works.”
Just as it may be disobedience for you to pursue an adoption, it may be disobedience for your friend or family member not to adopt.
The greatest thing you can do is assume they are attempting obedience to God and encourage them in it.
3. Someone who is adopting often feels isolated and alone on the journey.
Sometimes the adopting couple has already faced the valley of infertility or the loss of a child. At other times, the adopting family faces financial hurdles or paperwork expectations that rival Mount Everest. And then there are the valleys. Valleys are lonely places. Private heartache and disappointment are ghost towns of the soul.
Proverbs 13:12 says, “Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but desire fulfilled is a tree of life.” It takes very few hurtful comments or ill-timed questions to send a couple into the black hole of guilt, doubt, or blame. You have the ability with a word or a hug to buoy the family with the kindness of God. Remember—
Defeat thinks the worst of what God has planned while perseverance holds out for the final chapter.
It has been eight years since we brought our son home. To this day, whenever I share the story of his adoption (which he loves to hear—especially if it delays bedtime), I enthusiastically include the stories that involve the support of our friends and family.
I tell of the endless notes slipped across the aisle at church, or the wordless hugs on Mother’s Day, or the joyful anticipation of the crowd in the airport lobby as they showered us with balloons and flowers … and didn’t say a word about the fact we looked like death.
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