Despite the boundless amounts of info, stories and expert advice out there, we did not really know how hard it would be to parent an older adoptee. We thought we knew. We tried to gather all the out there stuff and bring it in here before we made the decision. But it all stayed out there. Until it became our own experience. Until it was too late.
People have asked me some tough questions. Questions like, “Would you do it again?” “Do you still recommend adoption to other families?” “Would you have done it if you’d known how hard it would be?” “Will you ever get to a point where you can look back and say it was all worth it?”
Those are pretty ballsy questions. And I like that my friends are ballsy enough to ask them. I’d like to explore my answers with you today – just in case some of you have been dying to know but haven’t felt free to ask.
“Would you do it again?”
This question could be interpreted in two different ways. 1: If we could relive that time in our lives, would we make the same decision? 2: Would we consider adopting again now? My answers are yes and no, respectively.
Our biggest reason for adopting in the first place was because we felt very strongly that God wanted us to do it. My husband and I place a rather large emphasis on trying to live obediently to God, and that priority hasn’t changed since our adoption. We would obey again.
But would we do it again now? At this point in our lives, there is no part of me that feels like God is calling us to that, so I feel somewhat confident in saying that it’s not on our horizon. Our family situation is so different now. Six years ago, our desire was to offer ourselves as a living sacrifice, offering what we had for God’s purposes. What we had was a healthy family with room for kids who needed a healthy family. Realistically, we don’t have that to offer right now. So my basic answer is no. But hey, with God all things are possible. If he wants to move us in that direction (and that would be moving a mountain!), we would obey.
“Do you still recommend adoption to other families?”
Yes. As long as there are children in the world who have been traumatized by death, abuse, abandonment, or extreme poverty, I wholeheartedly endorse embracing those children and providing them with safe and loving families. It is unfathomably hard. But it is necessary. It is our global and communal responsibility.
“Would you have done it if you’d known how hard it would be?”
I don’t know. I’d like to think so, but I don’t know for sure. It’s just better that we didn’t know. But guess what. The same could be said of my biological children. It’s not an adoption question. It’s simply a parenting question. It’s all hard.
Some days I think it would be so much easier to forge through the difficulties with my adopted son if we were working from a foundation of mutual affection. But on the flip side, I sometimes think my bio-kids’ drama would be easier to bear if it didn’t stab right through my mother-heart of affection. These burdens look different, but their weight is the same. Parenting is hard. It’s just better all-around if we don’t fully understand that ahead of time.
“Will you ever get to a point where you can look back and say it was all worth it?”
Yes. It is already worth it – because I choose to measure worth not by my personal benefit (the “return on investment”, if you will), but by the simple fact that an investment has been made.
That is the opposite of how we typically think of worth and investments. Let me use the analogy of a floundering business. I might choose to give that business $1000 a day knowing full well that I’ll never get my money back – nevermind earning interest on it. Due to how that business manages my contributions (which is completely out of my control), that business could easily go bankrupt next month, a year from now, or ten years from now. Financially speaking, my money may be wasted. But relationally speaking, each day’s investment is worthwhile because it is what that business needs to survive that day.
That is all I can do as a parent. I cannot control how my investment is managed, but as long as I continue investing, I know it is worth it.
My children are worth it.