Since the time I was a tiny baby, my parents shared with me that I was adopted. They brought me home as a three-week old infant and rejoiced in the child they had been longing for. My mother read me books about adoption, hung a precious framed print (words below) about adoption in my nursery and shared with friends and family how God blessed them with such a wonderful answer to prayer.
|Found at: http://katherineasbery.blogspot.com/2012/01/little-things.html|
I believe that my parents’ openness about my adoption helped me move smoothly through childhood with no doubts that my mom and dad loved me. I never had a moment where I believed I “wasn’t really theirs”. Often my mom would tell me that God had a very special plan for my life and that Jesus was adopted by Joseph, his earthly father. That may not have been a very doctrinally correct statement, but it gave me further confidence as a young child that being adopted was perfectly delightful!
One of my close friends was also adopted and when we were young, we would daydream about our birthmothers (strangely, we never wondered much about our birthfathers). We’d make up stories about how they could be beautiful models or famous movie stars! As I grew, my curiosity about my birthparents increased.
Because all adoptions were closed at the time I was born, identifying information about my birthparents was kept sealed until I turned 18 and could legally search for them. In high school my mom showed me a paper with the only information they knew which included medical history and generic information about my birthparents’ physical appearance. This intrigued me more, especially when I discovered that I was born just a couple of hours from our home!
Through a series of God-directed events, I was put in touch with my birthmother and birthfather. I received several letters from each of them and was privileged to meet my birthmother a short time later and we continue to have a good relationship. Sadly, my birthfather passed away before we could meet. I am so thankful for the chance we had to exchange letters before that time.
As an adopted child, I’m overjoyed to see couples following God’s leading in their life by bringing these precious children into their homes. Adoptive families come about in so many different ways and there are many challenging situations that parents need to approach with grace and compassion. I can’t know every situation, but I’d like to offer you four things to consider as you seek wisdom in raising your adopted child.
Affirm Their Identity in Christ
As Christian parents, our primary desire for our children is for them to “grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ” (2 Peter 3:18) and to be confident in their identity in Christ as they grow up. Many times, children are adopted out of difficult or even dangerous circumstances, leaving them with a sense of confusion about who they are or what they will become. They may not share these feelings with you at first! So I truly believe that it is essential to purposefully teach them that their future is not determined by the situation they were born into but rather by a God who has ordained all their days!
Treat Them as Part of the Family
Perhaps this goes without saying, but it’s important to treat your adopted child as a member of your family! Have you ever seen the “leg” on a large farm bin (photo below)? Take care not to make them a “leg”-- an extension of your family and yet not a complete part. I know that this is never a parent’s intent but it can happen in subtle ways that can frustrate an adopted child. In my own life I have known mothers who make a point of saying emphatically, “This is my daughter Jane, adopted from ________.” I feel great care should be taken in how one introduces their adopted child to others.
Be as Open as Possible About Their Background
For some, this might mean sharing with your internationally adopted child the customs and culture of the country in which they were born. For others, this may mean explaining to them how and why they came into your family. Obviously your explanations will vary based on their maturity level and the situation that brought them into your lives, but I believe that fostering open and honest conversation with your adopted child will give them insight into a part of their identity they may be curious about.
Seek out Support and Encouragement from Others
When my parents were raising my two brothers and me, there wasn’t much in the way of support and education for adoptive families. Thanks to Focus on the Family’s Wait No More foundation and other coalitions, there are a number of books and support groups available for parents and their adopted children. There are so many situations unique to adoptive families, especially those who have brought international children into their homes. They require special attention and encouragement that only those who have gone through the same thing can understand.
Just like any other parent, adoptive moms and dads go through many joys and trials as they raise their children. It is a precious and great responsibility for which God will give you special strength and endurance! My prayer is that what I’ve shared has been an encouragement to you in your calling and has given you a bit of an insider’s look into being an adopted child.
Thoughts or questions? I’d love to read them in the comments!
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