Adoption: Not for the Faint of Heart
January 22, 2023 by Sarah Earles, Clinical Supervisor/Child & Family Therapist
Adoption is a beautiful thing. Really, it is! It images God. It provides children with a home. It is an avenue by which children can access needed resources. Adoption is also hard, very hard.
Adoption begins with destruction, the severing of a child from his or her parents. Cutting the umbilical cord is a natural part of the birth process. Cutting off a child from biological ties is not. Babies are accustomed to the rise and fall of their mother’s breathing. They have heard the voices of their family, even in utero. To cut them off from these ties is devastating. Yes, adoptive parents by God’s grace can bond with children. Yes, adoptive children can grow to love their parents and vice versa, but nothing can replace the biological bonds of family. Children are not meant to leave their parents. Adoption exists because of the brokenness of the world, because sometimes parents do not have the resources they need to raise healthy children. That is a tragedy, because in a perfect world, parents should be equipped to raise their own offspring.
Adoption by God also begins with destruction, the destruction of God’s ideal for mankind. God created men perfectly, to dwell with him forever in perfect unity. Then sin came and wrecked everything. God made a way for adoption through Jesus, but that also came with destruction, the destruction of Jesus’ life to pay the penalty for sin. It was not pretty. It is beautiful only because God chose Jesus’ death to bring about redemption.
Adoption is redemptive. Children can exchange broken families for whole ones. Lack can transform into plenty. Children can begin to receive services to help them heal from physical, emotional, spiritual, and mental trauma. Adoption is not a panacea, though. It does not fix everything. It is designed to simply link children with parents who are hopefully further along in their life’s journeys and more resourced than biological parents were at the time of childhood removal. As such, adoption demands a lot on the part of adoptive parents.
Children from hard places need co-regulation – a lot of co-regulation. Children who grew up with scarcity need constant reminders that there is now plenty for them. Children who grew up without boundaries need more scaffolding than children who grew up with boundaries from day one. Children who lacked appropriate medical care need medical attention, sometimes lots of it. The need for co-regulation can drain parents, more than they have ever known. Parents can pour into biological children from day one, but with adopted children, parents must play catch up. It takes a lot out of parents, a lot.
Parenting adoptive children also often requires a paradigm shift. What worked with biological children may not work now. Or maybe parents adopted older children before parenting their own and must learn all the developmental interventions at once. Regardless, parents need to face their own beliefs, question them, work through them, and sometimes destroy and rebuild. It is not easy. Many parents end up deciding to pursue their own therapy to help them with the work of adoptive parenting because it is hard, so hard. Therapy then joins the parents in the redemptive process of their adopted children.
Adoption requires calling and strength. Parents who know they are called to do adoption can do hard things, miraculous things. Parents who know they are called to do adoption find strength, strength beyond imagination. Parents who have a faith relationship with Christ often draw their strength from Him, knowing that their work images Christ, and that the Bible says, “His divine power has given us everything [needed] for a Godly life” (2 Pet 1:3, New International Version). Adoption is not for the faint of heart. In some ways, it is a superhuman calling. It is for those with big hearts, hearts strengthened by calling to do hard things, to do hard things for the glory of God and the greater good of mankind.
Do you feel called to the high and holy work of adoption? Have you already adopted? Christian Family Care recognizes that this is hard work and is here to help. With private Christian counseling, online and in-person classes, family coaching and more, Christian Family Care has resources to support you and your family. Contact Christian Family Care today to get what you need to strengthen your heart for the redemptive work you are doing.