The 4 Questions I Had as a Dad Considering Adoption
My wife and I adopted two of our six kiddos from Bulgaria, both with disabilities. Through the vast network of connections that my wife has built over the years (because I’m not going to pretend that I, myself, have any connections), we’ve interacted with many families and shared our family’s story with quite a few people.
When my wife talks to people considering adoption, one of the most common reasons they cannot do it is: “my husband would never do it.”
I was one of those guys. My wife and I were high school sweethearts, and we had been jokingly (or so I thought) planning our large family from the earliest stages of our relationship (which is probably why we had our first child at 17, but that’s another story). My wife grew up in a ridiculously humongous family with all sorts of steps, halves, fifths, quarters — you name it. As for me, I had only one sibling, so a smaller family was a bit more up my alley.
Well, plans change. One child turned to two (and a child on the autism spectrum), then to three and four. I was content (overwhelmed, actually), and my wife and I decided I should get a vasectomy (that’s yet another story). So, for me, anyway, four kids was enough. But funny thing about marriage, apparently, it’s not just my desires that matter.
When my wife introduced the idea of adoption to me, I had no problem intelligently rebutting her scheme to smuggle more children into my home: we can’t afford it,I’m mentally unstable, it violate’s our lease agreement, our other kids will suffer, my parents will disown me, yada yada yada — I threw it all at her and I was unstoppable!
My wife had been doing some work with a non-profit organization advocating for orphans overseas. She helped families with their fundraising efforts and even traveled with a few to other countries to help them through their adoption process. She made a trip to Bulgaria and about halfway through the trip, she texted me a picture of a little boy with the message, “I think this is our son.”
Long story made short: we adopted that little boy. Oh, and a little girl, too. I’m not going to bore anyone by detailing the drawn out conversations that eventually won me over, because I’m not writing a “how-to” guide for wives on conning their husbands into something they don’t want to do. Nor am I saying husbands should submit to their wives every desire.
The message I want to get across is simple: Husbands, give the idea a chance.
Your first instinct might be one of resistance: Is this affordable? Is now a good time? What about the other kids? Will this interfere with football season? OK, maybe that last one was a stretch, but the point is some men do tend to look closely at how realistic something is before jumping in.
More than any other concern I had going into the adoption process, there was one I secretly feared more than anything: how can I love a child who isn’t mine?
I’ll be honest, I was worried about all of the previously mentioned concerns and selfishly worried about my own personal inconveniences. What I’ve realized through the emotional rewards of becoming an adoptive father is that I had not asked those questions objectively, outside of fear.
1. Can we afford it?
A huge deterrence for families looking into adoption is the financial costs associated with the process. Yes, many times adoption is rather expensive, but that doesn’t mean it’s going to cause you to go broke. Our adoption tipped the scales somewhere over the $30 thousand mark, but I can’t say it had a huge negative impact in our bank account, and here’s why:
My wife came up with some great fundraising ideas, including events, games and giveaways that brought in a significant amount of our funding. It definitely helps if you have the support of your family, friends and an established church. Networking through social media was a big help, too. My wife made a ton of connections, especially through her involvement in the adoption community.
Did fundraising cover our entire adoption? No. But it definitely eased the financial burdens of trying to pay for it completely out of pocket. We pulled a few hundred out each paycheck for various costs, like our home study and whatever else came up, and also made sure we set aside a chunk from our tax return (which would have otherwise been spent on superficial garbage).
Bottom line — it’s probably not going to break the bank.
2. Is this the right time?
Here’s another selfish question I asked: “Is now a good time for me?” Well, no it’s not — and it never will be a good time, which is why if you’re ever going to do it, you need to do it now. In reality, it doesn’t matter if it’s not a good time for you. There is a child suffering, one who may never experience a loving home. For them, right now would be a great time to have a family.
We adopted children with complex medical needs. In many cases, medically fragile children — or others on the cusp of aging out of orphanages — are at risk of never having a family or receiving the medical attention they need to survive into adulthood. If we continue to wait for a more convenient time to adopt a child, we’re allowing a child to suffer longer. There is no convenient time for a child to suffer and die.
3. What about my biological kids?
I thought that adopting would take attention and love from my biological kids, especially since we already had a child on the autism spctrum. In reality, my kids learned a lot from the experience and opened their eyes to the unfortunate truth about the world they live in. Not every child is fortunate enough to have a roof over their head, receive a Christmas present or even know the warmth of a loving hug.
When our two kiddos came home, the other kids embraced them as their new siblings and learned to extend their love to others who need it. Instead of receiving less love from myself and my wife, they learned to share love through inclusion and selflessness.
Did the experience affect my other kids? Yes. I believe they’re better from it, and we would do it a hundred times over again.
4. How can I love a child who isn’t mine?
All love blossoms from a root — a single seed that has to be planted at some point in time. While you’ve known your biological kids since the day they were born, your time with your adopted children will also have a starting time.
The truth is, you may not immediately feel a sense of love for an adopted child. You will learn about them, nurture them, and as you do, you will take pride in the ways they grow under your care. It’s going to take time — it did for me, too. But you will love and protect that child, your child, as if he/she was born of your own loin.
Too many couples hesitate when it comes to adoption, and I believe a big part of that is fear. Fear of the unknown; fear for your family; fear for your marriage. In all honesty, the adoption process does put a huge strain on families, but it can also brings them closer together.
If you’ve been considering adoption, whether children with disabilities, domestic, international, intergalactic, whatever — don’t wait. There is a wealth of resources and information out there to educate you about the process and support you in your journey to grow your family.
Feel free to reach out. My wife and I would love to help you get started or alleviate any fears or concerns you may have.
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