I need to begin this essay with full disclosure that my wife and I have adopted three fantastic children to add to the “yours, mine and ours” family of five giving us a grand total to eight amazing children. If I am being totally honest, I do have moments where I ask myself “how the hell did this happen?”. Nonetheless, I just finished celebrating Father’s day (thank you Hallmark for inventing this holiday) and I cannot begin to describe the depth of enhancement my life has experienced with the blessing of our adopted children. In fact, in many ways I never think about the “last three” as being adopted but rather the final three cars on a train that god has asked my wife and me to shepherd.
So when I thought about putting “pen to paper” on this topic, it occurred to me that I could help a whole bunch of guys to be “truly blessed” as well. I am the first to recognize that adopting a child(ren) is not for everyone. I am also passionate about the fact that it is absolutely appropriate for more of us than we admit to. So guys I get it… You can come up with a healthy “laundry list” of reasons why you are not the right guy to be adopting a child.. Do these sound familiar:
- “I’m not sure I can love an adopted child like my own offspring”
- “I can’t afford another child”
- “I am afraid another child will negatively impact my other children”
- “I am too old”
- “I’ve been there and done that”
- “I am too busy”
- “My wife and I are just starting to get our rhythm back”
- “I am not feeling called to adopt?” (my personal favorite)
Personally I dealt with each one of these issues. So let me tell you my story and if it causes one reader to take the bold step of seriously considering adopting a child there are two great things that result… A child gets a family… a family gets a blessing..
Four years ago I had the great fortune of spending 14 hours, seven minutes’ and eleven seconds in the car with my family traveling to see my wife’s family. We arrived in time to spend the Christmas holiday but the thought of having another 14 plus hour ride home loomed large as the holiday season flew by. Among other things I am a guy – I’ve got about 25 minutes of material to talk about on the ride home. By comparison wife has more than 28 hours of stuff to “visit about”.
So, on New Year’s Eve we jumped back in the car and started the long trek back to our home just outside of Atlanta. In the course of our drive my wife and I discussed a number of things but seem to return back to two common themes:
- “You can’t change the world but you can change someone’s world”
- “To much is given, much is expected”
In effect we knew we needed to step out of our comfort zone and make a difference… (by the way it turns out we didn’t step out of our comfort zone much at all). So somewhere between Hannibal, Missouri and Paducah, Kentucky, we decided we were going to explore adopting a child…
The process is grueling… From a 52 page soul searching questionnaire to a FBI and State background check, a full physician physical (including more blood test than any total illnesses possible) and what seemed to be an invasive social worker observing our current family in action to deem our fitness to accept a new child in our household. However, in the end we passed the test and we “made the cut” to be eligible to adopt a child.
Amazingly 4 days after completing the process we received a call that a child was born in Hinesville, Georgia and if we could get there by 5 pm the birth mother would interview us to determine whether we were the right fit. Finding friends to look after our existing children, we found a way to travel five hours to meet what turned out to be our son Michael… Answer to question number one… Yes you can fall in love with an adoptive child as if it were your birth child.. It took about a nanosecond.. Son number six was immediately part of our family and we couldn’t wait to get him home.
When we got him home there was a total baby inventory re-stocking event … Cribs, high chairs, diapers, baby clothes, bassinets, stuffed animals etc. Answer to question # 2.. Can you afford it? Hell no…unless of course you are going to re-prioritize your spending… No more country club (at least for now)…Nights out with friends need to take a hiatus for a while (who has the energy anyways)… An adult trip to the Kentucky derby was cancelled.. Replacing the family car was postponed for a year.. But we found a way to make it work and after all we did get this really cool blessing – His name is Michael..
Speaking of “we”… Answer to question # 3.. How does a new child affect the rest of the family? Overwhelmingly positive!!!… People often ask me what was the biggest surprise associated with adopting a child… My answer.. How positively it has impacted my older children… Every one of my five older boys embraced their new role as a big brother stepping up their game in every aspect of contributing to the added responsibilities… The natural maturation process was amazing to watch… It was if they had been waiting for this opportunity and when it came they were going to do their part.. whether it was “watch your brother while Mom takes a shower” or “please make sure Michael is buckled in his car seat”… It was the most natural transition I have ever witnessed…And trust me when I say these guys were no more prepared for this event than a trailer park is for a tornado…
Let me deal with questions four, five and six together.. Yes you are too old (did I mention I was 52 years old when we adopted Michael and Matthew and 55 when we adopted our daughter Katelyn).. Yes you have already raised a family, and yes you are way too busy (and important) to adopt a child… Just a bit of a reality check – You are the same guy who can find time to play
golf a couple times a week, play poker with the fellas, take the fishing trip with your college buddies and watch college football all day Saturday and recharge to do the NFL thing on Sunday right? You’re the same guy who travels all over the country for business but finds an extra day to catch a game, some sightseeing etc. Some tough love here boys… Get over yourself … You’re not all that and a bag of nuts… a twelve handicap doesn’t mean much if a child (particularly a boy) goes without a dad especially if you are available… and news flash – You are available!..
Question number seven … This is a tough one.. Yeah, it is great to get the WE back in the you and me. Moreover, I can assure you that adopting and raising another child is exhausting and does eat into the WE time…okay lets skip to the chase – Bottom line is that you will have less sex.. However in a strange sort of juxtaposition, it also enhances who the WE is……Just last night my wife and I fell into bed completely exhausted but fulfilled in knowing that we have eight fantastic kids who form a family that is greater than the sum of its parts… And when we do have “WE time” it is pretty damn good… By the way… If you get the wild hair idea of raising the possibility of adoption with your wife… “Katy bar the door” boys…. You haven’t had that kind of WE time before!
So you don’t feel a “calling” to adopt? Did I mention I needed 14+ hours in the car for my “calling” to come… Let me spare you the 14 hours – Try these little “calling card” statistics on:
- 63% of youth suicides are from fatherless homes
- 90% of all homeless and runaway children are from fatherless home
- 85% of all children that exhibit behavioral disorders come from Fatherless homes
- 71% of all high school drop outs come from fatherless homes
- 75% of all adolescent patients in chemical abuse centers come from fatherless homes
- 70% of juveniles in state operated institutions come from fatherless homes
- 85% of all youths sitting in prisons grew up in fatherless homes
- 71% of pregnant teenagers lack a father
Okay, I know I mentioned from the outset that adoption is not for everyone but please don’t use the excuse… “I don’t feel a calling”… Guys the demand for you is far greater than you can imagine. There is more than a calling, there is a downright crisis for you.. Here is a question for you: if you could change one of these stats by a small fraction would you do it? Could you do it?
So there you have it fellas, you can toss this essay aside (which candidly I would have at a different point in my life) or you can take a step toward exploring the possibility of expanding your family… It’s not for everyone but it is the greatest thing I have ever done!
(Note: The author of this post is a client of ours!)