after reading A4everFamily.org site I am scared. we are looking forward to adopting from an orphanage in Uganda (hopefully being able to pick up our child by early summer). what I’ve read here tonight is sobering.
In my experience, this is most people’s reaction to reading about difficulties faced by adoptive families, and it’s not a bad reaction – as a starting point.
To continue the discussion, Dorothy Bode wrote a wonderful reflection on the struggles and joys that she has experienced as an adoptive mother. (Dorothy’s post is accompanied by an adorable photo of one of her daughters: you shouldn’t miss it.)
I want to add a few more thoughts on preparing for adoption, specifically, on educating yourself about the risks and potential difficulties. First, it’s okay to be scared about adopting. I think most parents are frightened before giving birth to their first biological child (and sometimes the second and third!). Adding another person to your family will always come with risks, whether you’re adopting or giving birth: health risks, bonding risks — if you can think of a problem, it’s probably possible, because when we deal with other people, we can’t stay in complete control. (If you have to stay in complete control all the time, please don’t adopt.)
Second, the more you know ahead of time, the less you’ll be destabilized by the problems you eventually face. No one faces all the problems that are possible, and most people face very few of them. But probably everyone faces some, and the best way to be prepared is to be reasonably well educated about the possibilities and go in “with your eyes wide open” (this is the name of a very good course on inter-country adoption at adoptionlearningpartners.org). If you’re aware of the kinds of struggles faced by adoptive families (and non-adoptive families for that matter), you can discuss them now as a couple — and with any children old enough to understand. Thinking ahead won’t solve the problems in advance — but your footing will be a little stronger as you confront the situations that eventually arise.
Third, the folks who run “frightening” websites like A4everFamily.org are mostly adoptive parents themselves. Notice that these families don’t have any regrets about adopting, even when their families have had severe trials. What they wish is that they’d been better prepared ahead of time. Read some of Dorothy’s posts on this blog and you’ll hear a voice that rings with joy, even when she talks about heart-wrenching difficulties.
Finally, be willing to take risks for the Kingdom of God. It is sinful negligence not to count the cost (see Luke 14:25-33, which provides an interesting counterpoint — though not a contradiction — to my comments here). But it’s a terrible loss if, out of fear, you refuse the joy set before you.