If you’ve looked into adoption on any level, you’ve probably noticed helpful articles by adoptive and foster-to-adopt parents about the comments they’ve received from well-meaning strangers, friends or acquaintances.
Along with those comments, they’ll suggest phrases that may come across in a less offensive way. Questions like “How much did your baby cost?” could more sensitively be phrased as “I’m really interested in the adoption process. Would you be willing to share your experience?”
And that makes sense. Children who have been adopted are people. We should never reduce them to commodities or topics of discussion simply to satisfy our curiosity.
But many adoptive and foster parents also decry the praises of others that come in the form of “Wow, I could never do what you’re doing!” or “You’re amazing for taking her (him, them) in!”.
While I think that the people who make those statements are probably speaking from their lack of experience and really don’t know how they’d handle being in a position to foster or adopt, I don’t think they’re necessarily untrue.
Many people really could never do that.
Many people are not in a position to provide a home for a child that needs it.
If you have a criminal record, have a transient job, have financial concerns, have children that already require a large proportion of your time, have serious marital problems, have roommates with sketchy pasts, have safety considerations in your home that can’t be fixed, are pregnant, have serious unresolved issues in your past, have addictions or have health issues, you may not be considered a candidate for adoption.
So when some people say “I could never adopt a child”, they may actually be telling the truth.
But others may just not be willing to adopt.
It’s not that they don’t want to, it’s just that there is a great deal involved.
The overriding sentiment among adoptive and foster parents seems to be one of humility, which is great. But I think it may be misleading.
So to the mom and dad that have adopted or who are doing foster-to-adopt, allow me to say it:
You are special.
You are amazing.
You are selfless.
You are compassionate.
You are wonderful.
It’s okay to own it.
Not everyone is willing to put their life on hold to go through inspections, medicals, background checks, psychological histories, reference checks, training, and interviews.
Not everyone is willing to welcome a child that is not biologically related to them into their home.
Not everyone is willing to welcome that child’s biological family into their lives, sending updates, visiting and sharing meals.
Not everyone is willing to spend the money that private and international adoptions cost.
Not everyone is willing to work through the personal history that a foster or adopted child comes with, no matter how old they are.
Not everyone is willing to set aside their apprehensions about the unknown possibility of special needs, genetic diseases or other issues coming up later in the child’s life.
Not everyone is willing to love a child if there’s a chance that it may only be for a short time.
Not everyone could do it. Not everyone is willing to adopt.
But you are. You were and you are and you will continue to be.
That’s worth acknowledging, and that’s worth praising.
So the next time someone tells you “I could never do that” or “You’re such wonderful people for providing a home for a child”, say “Thank you” and smile.
And know that they may just be telling the truth.