Adoption is scary

This is the second blog in the series “Adoption Is” for National Adoption Month 2019. Read the entire series.

One of my favorite places is the Blue Ridge Parkway. For 400 miles a ribbon of pavement runs a thread through the highest peaks, most scenic valleys and beautiful landscapes of the Appalachian Mountains. It’s a highway of peaks and valleys, of many choices and innumerable opportunities.

Approaching the on ramps, you’re met with idyllic bridges and signposts beckoning you to come aboard. In my world of imperfect analogies (and I’m the king of that world), it’s much like the adoption brochures or advertising or agency speak that draws you in to your adoption experience.

Once on the parkway, the scenery is ever-changing, much like the emotions you feel entering this experience. And, by the way, I’m a dad, a guy… a man. We’re not supposed to feel these things right?  Wrong. We feel every bit of it.

Should I go in the direction of domestic adoption? Should we go international? Have we been approached to care for a family member… perhaps for life?  Are our motivations correct? Are we doing this for the right reasons? Are we wanting to get a child? Are we wanting to care for the orphans? Do we have an open mind? Or a savior complex? What agency do we choose? What if we have to say no to a certain child? What if it isn’t a good fit? What about our biological children? What if my parents don’t approve? What if our church doesn’t support us? Can we raise a child of another race? What if they have behavior issues?

Fear. That’s the common underlining factor in most of these questions. Fear of the unknown. Fear of stepping outside of your comfort zone. Fear of failure. Fear of regret. Fear of the reaction to others.

Thinking about adopting brings with it a whole host of questions. All of them are right. All are healthy and normal. All require deep thinking. All require commitment. No, no one can tell you what the future holds or if you are going to make a mistake. (And, trust me, I’ve made more than plenty.)

Adoption is one of the most concrete examples of the choice aspect of love. I choose to love you, therefore I will enter into this permanent relationship with you. I choose to walk with you through whatever life brings. I choose to alter my life, curtail my comforts and reprioritize my life for you.

When you finally decide to pull off the adoption parkway at the right overlook and walk up to the edge, you look out into an amazing landscape below. You don’t know what all is down there, but the patchwork of colors and features is spectacular. Standing there, with your adoption application, you breathe deeply knowing that the plunge is directly ahead.

And for the child, it can be a frightening experience as well. It may well be that the child you’re adopting has enjoyed time with your family. Maybe there has been a mutual agreement that this is best. Maybe they still have contact with their biological family.

But maybe not. Our children weren’t old enough to comprehend what adoption meant. They still wrestle with its permanence. A child adopted from overseas will experience a new culture, new landscapes and the loss of a huge part of themselves with family and cultural connections.

For the parent and for the child, one thing is natural and normal and expected when starting the process:

Adoption is scary.

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