Six Lessons Learned From Being an Adoptive Parent

I’ve darn near decided that maybe it is more of a privilege to be an adoptive parent than a biological parent.  Before I offend anyone who has given birth to their children, please hear me.  I am NOT saying that adopting children is better than giving birth, and I am NOT saying that adoptive parenting provides more passion than raising biological children.  What I am saying is that being an adoptive parent is a privilege.  (Please understand that I have zero frame of reference as all of my kiddos are adopted.)

Here are just a few things I have learned since becoming a mother through adoption:

  1. Never underestimate the power of the pursuit.  If I had not put all of my efforts into becoming a parent, I know that I would not be experiencing the gift of refinement that parenting brings.  Don’t give up.  Throw every hat you have in the ring.  If you want to be a parent, let it be your priority and the passion behind your pursuit.
  2. Genetics are incredibly important.  Are you surprised I said that?  Let me explain.  When it comes to loving a child with every pore of your being, genetics don’t mean squat…BUT….when it comes to understanding histories, personalities, and medical issues, genetics are huge. Learn what you can, and don’t sweat the rest.  Sometimes, the only answer you can give to a doctor is, “I don’t know.”  While this is unsettling and, let’s be honest, a frustrating place to be, it is the truth.  
  3. Maternal instincts are not born from giving birth (no pun attended).  Do yourself a favor.  Stop worrying about your maternal instincts, or if you will love a child you adopt the same as you would if you gave birth.  While I do not have anything to compare, based on what I have heard from friends who have experienced parenting through birth and adoption, there is no difference. If anything, the instinct to protect might be a little stronger with an adopted child than a child by birth.  The adopted child may have a complicated history that only you will fully understand.  A part of you seeks to protect in secret that history; the other part of you never wants that history to be a source of embarrassment or ridicule.  So, yes, just perhaps, the maternal “momma bear” instincts to protect might just kick in a littler harder.
  4. Waiting to become a mother took so long, and because of it, I never forget to appreciate the brief and simple moments of life with my children.  I have known since age eleven that I would motherhood would come to me through adoption.  The wait to understand and capture that moment when it all made sense lasted nearly my entire lifetime so far.  I’ll be honest.  I get caught in a rut with my children.  I get frustrated, wish for an early bedtime, and look forward to time away from them.  I lose my cool.  I make mountains out of mole hills, and trust me, I totally mess up time and again.  Maybe, I might get this parenting thing down when they are adults.  With all of this being said, there are those moments with them that still takes my breath away.  While out riding bikes with my kiddos one night, I saw them both peddling their stubby little legs to me, I thought, “This moment.  This moment matters.”  
  5. Being an adoptive parent has unique set of challenges.  Do I think that there will never be any challenge to parents who give birth?  Of course not. The majority of my close friends have all given birth to their children, and they have challenges that they face.  However, with adoptive parenting, a parent must consume the history of the child only to be able to release it at a later date when the child is ready.  By history, I mean the knowledge of birth parents, and reasons why your son or daughter entered your home.  It is a heavy burden.  It is not to be taken lightly.  It can be one of the most difficult parts to raising children through adoption.  How does one fully comprehend what it feels like to be an adoptee?  I wonder how often my children think about their birth families.  It breaks my heart, but, it is a reality.  The worse thing one can do is run from it.
  6. I feel a big sense of responsibility in raising well-rounded and kind children.  Perhaps, I feel this pressure due to the fact that my children were intended to be mine.  I don’t want to mess this up.  At times, I fail miserably.  At others, I am totally enamored by the generosity and thoughtfulness shown by them.  I guess there is a part of me that believes I have more of a responsibility to raise my children right; as if (at times) the whole world will judge if I do not.  Being an adoptive parent is truly the most incredible privilege in the world, but it also comes with the pressure to be perfect – and we all know that perfection is completely unobtainable.

Adoptive parenting is a journey.  From the moment you decide to adopt, waiting to have a child placed (or if a foster placement, the wait for permanency through adoption), to finalization, and then raising the children, it is all just one big story with ups and downs.  I suspect all parenting is like this, but with adoption, there is a deeper sense of fortitude mixed with caution.

In these things, and many more, I find privilege.  That we were granted these children through the workings of the Lord is often beyond my ability to measure.  The years spent raising my children will continue to bring me lots and lots of frustrating moments, but also many wonderful and glorious lessons.

The lessons I’ve learned so far with raising my children is that this chapter of my life is definitely a privilege.

Every good and perfect gift is from above…(James 1:17)

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