Since I became a foster-to-adopt parent in 2015, I’ve learned a lot about assumptions. Just like our boys, my husband and I are white. We’re both just shy of 40, the perfect age to have two kids under the age of eleven. Because of these two facts, many people assume they’re our biological children.
Oftentimes, that is a blessing. We don’t have to tell people their story or make our sons feel awkward or different if we don’t have to. Other times, it has been a hindrance. People assume our youngest is acting out because he’s willful or because we’re lax when it comes to discipline. But the truth is that he is coming to us from a hard place and is still working through the trauma that sent him on the long journey to our front door.
People assume things about adoptive parents, too. This is why I shouldn’t have been confused when a woman I had dinner with recently said, “Well, after you’ve been through the pain of infertility, your children must be such a blessing.” She finished the statement with a knowing wink and a pat on my hand that set her bracelets to jangling. “The Lord certainly heard your prayers, didn’t he?”
Here’s the thing. My husband and I didn’t struggle to conceive, give up, and “settle for” adoption. On the contrary, I’m likely as fertile as the Nile during flood season. We chose not to have biological children for reasons both personal and medical, but when God started leading us to adopt a sibling group here in Georgia, we obeyed.
When I revealed this fact, she sat in stunned silence for a moment, trying to process the information.
Yes, I wanted to say, neither of us fancied children. Yes, when we did choose to adopt, we never considered an infant. Yes, we wanted more than one. Yes, we chose a child with special needs. And no, we’re not crazy people with a martyr complex.
As Christians, we assume we know what adoption is all about. For instance, we know that God executes justice for the fatherless (Deut. 10:18) and that pure and undefiled religion requires the care of widows and orphans (James 1:27), but when it comes to carrying out that high and holy calling, obedience doesn’t always come easily.
It certainly didn’t for us. We dragged our feet at several points in the process, scared out of our minds by an adoption horror story or alarming statistics. But God was patient with us, and despite our fumbling, halting steps, he led us to where we find ourselves today.
And our adoption story—like most folks’—isn’t chock full of Hallmark Channel movie moments. There are tearful, emotional days that end with my husband and I talking in the dark, admitting to one another what big, fat failures we are. But there are also ones filled with small miracles and mercies—good behavior at school, a successful afternoon speech therapy session, a peaceful family dinner. We treasure each one of those days because they mean we’re making progress. Still, more often than not, parenthood has left us singing “Life In Wartime” by the Talking Heads: “This ain’t no party. This ain’t no disco. This ain’t no fooling around.”
We assumed we knew what we were getting into. We were wrong. Oh brother, were we wrong.
Adoption has been both harder than we ever expected and more rewarding than we anticipated. Just as he was when we started this whole crazy mess, God has been with us every step of the way. And for some reason, I can’t help but assume he’s been enjoying himself immensely.
8 thoughts on “But I Thought…”
Loved this post and appreciated your naked honesty. I plan to share the link with one of my friends, Sarah, who helped me with my memoir, “Adopted: A Memoir of Healing Love.” She has 7 adopted children ranging widely in ages. I know that you and she cross paths at many points. Her heart will resonate with much that you wrote. Thanks again Jamie. Always appreciate your sharing and your voice.
Thank you so much for your kind words, David. And thank you for sharing this with your friend. I’d love to sit down with her and swap “war stories.” SEVEN! Wow!
Love following your parenting journey, Jamie. And appreciate your honesty. Parenting is never quite what one expects, yet in my opinion, even with all my struggles, it has the richest rewards on Earth. May God bless your sweet family with many of them.
Thanks, Patti! It’s been challenging, but it has it’s fun moments too.
Thanks for this picture of y’all’s hearts, Jamie. I want to say something more profound or deep, but I’m dry. Thanks for your example.
Thanks, Glenn. It’s an interesting calling to say the least, and oftentimes we feel woefully unsuited to the task. But we’ll get there. 🙂
Your obedience is a huge part of God’s story being weaved into your lives and your two sons. Great is your reward. Thank you for your transparency and for sharing. Yes, God is delighting in you. Continued blessings! 😊
Many thanks! I appreciate the kind words more than you know.