Please take a moment to enjoy this article by WU World Changer Angie Elliston in honor of Adoption Awareness Month! Each year, November is recognized as National Adoption Awareness Month. While all adoption-related issues are important, the particular focus of this awareness month is the adoption of children currently in foster care.
My husband and I have adopted thirteen children.
I realize it sounds like a crazy number to most people and we have lost friends due to the sheer number of children we chose to adopt. According to Good House Keeping, in 2014 there were 107,918 foster children eligible for, and waiting to be adopted. However, only 50,644 foster kids were adopted. That being known, which child or children shouldn’t we have adopted, left to join the ranks of children awaiting adoption?
Adopting thirteen children was not a choice taken lightly.
My husband and I considered everything from the number of rooms we had available to the extra laundry it would entail. We are also aware that each of our children has had a variety of trauma and losses and would need individualized treatment systems. In addition, they each have very different personalities and individual needs. By adopting thirteen children, we pledged to take care of them as our own and be aware of these differences.
It is not a decision to take lightly, but it is a big decision and is personal.
Others outside of your family cannot make that decision for you, but keep in mind that having their support is helpful. Adoption can be tumultuous with their trauma inserting its two cents at the most inopportune times. Like any criticism, take it seriously, weigh it and either throw it out or consider it. They may be pointing out reality to you that you do not see with your excitement of adding a new member to your family. Their criticism may also bring up a valid point that you can prepare for before the child is placed in your home. You and your spouse need to both be on board with this decision and talk about each aspect.
An excerpt from my book, PHOENIX BOUND, ‘A Hurting Heart,’ chapter:
It might seem that James and I make these decisions lightly, as if getting a puppy, but we have continuously talked about adoption. It is our life’s passion and we are committed to being ready at a moment’s notice. We are prepared with the answer to the question before the question is asked.
Adopting is a personal decision and no one else can make that decision for you. The chapter entitled, ‘Everyone said NOT to do it’, in PHOENIX BOUND, is an example of our decision to adopt our third child.
James and I each said, “Sure, why not.” As we told people of our decision, everyone told us not to do it. They insisted that a sixteen-year-old would be set-in-his-ways and be impossible to change or mold into our family. Friends and relatives strongly advised us not to take him into our family. Regardless of the warnings, we did not hesitate or doubt our decision.
My husband and I were prepared to take on another child at this point and had met this boy before getting the phone call to adopt him. We were prepared to handle it.
It is dangerous to adopt as a result of a loss.
Many couples adopt after years of trying to conceive or want a playmate for their only child. However, be sure that you have worked out your loss before taking on a child. A child’s needs are extensive, and your heart needs to be ready to take on that challenge. An adoptive child has had at least one loss if not multiple losses and he needs you to be there for him. If he does not get along with your other child or if he does not ‘measure up’ to what you expected, it is your heart that needs to be flexible and loving.
Research before you choose to adopt and listen to your heart.
An adoptive placement will often turn your life upside down, but it is a calling that has its rewards. It is also one way to create the change you would like to see in the world.