It is national adoption month. A year ago I was silently hoping that I would be able to announce a new addition to our family but it isn't going to happen. Or at least not this month. So instead of intrudicing my son to the world (which I am hoping will happen by this time next year), I will try to answer some question and misperceptions that I hear on a regular basis.
1) Yes. My children are real brothers. If you ever doubt that, just watch them interact. The older loves to get the younger in trouble and the younger wants to do everything the older one does. I am becoming an expert at sibling rivalry. I just wish I was better at dealing with it.
2) A child can have more than two real parents at a time. Everyone thinks of parents as one mom and one dad. The truth is both of my children have two real moms. The moms who gave birth to them and me. We all love these little boys, are about them and pray for them. I am the mother spending every day with them and caring for them but that doesn't mean their first moms don't love them any less. I have told foster and birth parents that children can have more than one mom at at time and it doesn't change the relationship with either of them.
3) You do not have to be biologically related to be family. This kind of goes back to the first two. We are a real family and just as valuable and unique as any other family.
4) Not all adults who choose to adopt dealt with infertility. While it is true that some adults adopt after dealing with fertility problems, not all of them do. I chose to adopt without ever trying to have a child biologically. Adoption was right for me and it is right for a lot of famiiles.
5) God didn't plan for my children's birth families to be unable to care for them. He just matched us up when their families couldn't care for them. I don't know why some parents are better able to care for their children than others. It's not my job to question it. I just know that God sent my children to me to be my children and that it was a match made in heaven.
6) As my 3 year old said yesterday, you can't choose who your family is. Only God gets to decide that. I didn't "choose" my children. God led me to my children. I just followed his calling.
7) Not all foster children, internationally adopted or children adopted at older ages have serious behavioral challenges. Yes, abuse and neglect and institutional care can cause children to develop behavior problems but the extent and duration of those problems vary from one child to another. Many do not qualify as having behavorial distrubances or mental illnesss. They are just children who have learned certain behaviors as survival skills. As time goes on, they learn new behaviors and can let the old ones that cause problems in their safe homes go away. Most of these kids are just kids and most will never have a "diagnosis."
8) Adoption is not for everyone. While I would love for all children seeking new families to be able to find them, I realize that adoption is not for everyone. While I do truly believe that our children quickly become just our kids no matter how they come to us, some people can never be comfortable knowing a child has another family out there. Other people are unable to get past their own issues regarding race and diversity to parent a child who does not look like them. That is okay. I know that as much as I wish I could eradicate the world of racism and discrimination, I can't. I just ask those people to keep their opinions to themselves and not adopt or foster children who do not look like them.
9) Many children need loving homes. Being a foster parent means parenting for and with another parent while waiting for the courts to decide if the child will be returned. Most children are reunited with their families which is wonderful. For those children who can't go home, they often find new families with their foster families. To be a foster parent you just need to be willing to love a child unconditionally for however long they are with you and be willing to work with and accept the birth family. It's not an easy job but it is very rewarding.
10) Our family is just like every other family 99% of the time. We have our good days and our bad days. We have people who love us and support us. We turn to our friends and family when we need help and we love each other unconditionally. We wake up in the morning, have the same mad dash out the door every other family has and miss each other while we attend work and school. We gather together for an evening meal, are busy with sports, swimming, church and other activities and end the day with a bedtime story and lots of hugs and kisses. Just like any other family. We came together through many miracles and are a family just like any other.
I once saw a quote that went something like this. Child birth is an act of nature. Adoption is an act of God.