A Husband’s Perspective on Adoption
I will begin this post by simply stating, husbands everywhere need to step up and start pulling their weight. I, for one, have been less than stellar about helping out with our adoption details. In fact, I have been rather abysmal. I do, however, rise to the occasion when needed, so here is my first step toward that goal (unsolicited I might add). I want to let you in on a husband’s perspective, feelings, thoughts, and overall impressions of adopting.
First and foremost, marry an amazing woman. CHECK! In all seriousness, my wife is amazing and handles the whole adoption process with grace. She is fiercely rigid about time lines, but also understanding when things don’t always go as expected. She accepts, with some reservation, that certain parts of this process are not in our control and that we need to trust in God to see us through. She is in constant contact with the people at Holt, the courier service, our local agency, and (when necessary) even the overnight delivery service. She has worked tirelessly on our blog, fundraising, and dossier paperwork. She tells me that she never stops thinking about the adoption…..and neither do I.
Adoption is a difficult thing for many to understand, especially those that have a strict definition of family. I guess I fell into that camp at one point in my life so I do not hold anything against people who don’t understand adoption. The message I have for them, as a man and a husband, is that God reveals himself to us not just in our own biological children, but in all of His children. These orphans did not choose to be orphaned any more than children born with disabilities chose to be disabled. Both are gifts from God, and we should treasure them as such. I came to understand that giving a child a chance for a better life was truly a way to serve God. I know it may be difficult, but I am up for the challenge.
I believe the most difficult part of the process for me was trying to decide what I was “comfortable with” when it came to disabilities. As many of you know, we are adopting a girl with special needs, and we were required to indicate on a form what types of disabilities we would accept. I felt wrong when I looked at a particular disability and checked “no.” I tried to rationalize it in my mind by saying things like, “We just do not have the knowledge or resources to care for a child with (fill in the blank).” I somehow felt as if I was abandoning these kids just because I was not able to properly care for them. I suppose it is better to admit your limitations than to try and bite off more than you can chew. Regardless, it felt wrong.
I am excited about being a dad to a little girl, but also very nervous. Parenthood is a humbling profession with no formal pay check and long hours. Parents out there know what I mean. “Sleeping in” is making it all the way to 7 am (if you are lucky) on weekends and 5:30 am during the week. Any television you hope to see will most likely involve some kind of Disney character or Sesame Street creature. Fortunately, I am still a kid at heart, so I like them as much as my son. When it comes to adopting a girl from China, I need to look at life through her lens. She will most likely be scared, confused, lonely, and suffer from feelings of abandonment. I worry that she will not trust us and will resent us. My hope is that she will grow to see that we do love her, and we will never abandon her. I also hope that she sees us not just as “some family,” but HER family.
I think the most important part of the adoption process, aside from the adoption itself, is making sure everyone is involved in your journey. It is very easy to get caught up in all the details and deadlines when working toward a goal as big and important as adding a beautiful girl to your home. A way to include your family is to assign small jobs to your kids to help them feel like they are contributing to “little sister coming home.” Kids (and dads!) can write thank you notes, stamp envelopes, help pick out paint colors for her bedroom, etc. Kids will be vested in the adoption, and you are spending quality time with your family. This part of the adoption process does not get a lot of press and can be taxing, but with some creative projects, your whole family will be closer together. The key is to remember that your family needs time together, and when possible, mom and dad need to take a short and well deserved break to go to the movies or grab a quick dinner. Your family needs to be fed with the nourishment of time together much more than it needs the kind found in a store. Adoption truly brings out all your emotions, but remembering that it is about family will keep you grounded. Remember, it takes a village…