If you are an expectant parent or a birth parent considering placing your child for adoption, this question may be weighing on you heavily. You want what is best for your child, and it’s hard to know exactly what that is.
Before you try to determine good versus bad, you should be sure you fully understand what adoption is. Just as with any decision, good or bad is determined by the people involved. Is it good to get married? Is it good to have children? Is it good to buy a house? While the vast majority of people may say yes to these things, some people would say no as well. As an adoptive parent and a friend to multiple adoptees, I would say overwhelmingly, adoption is a good thing.
I also believe that it’s an earthly picture of what God has done – giving us each the opportunity to become part of His family. The Bible contains adoption stories that remind us of the power of redemption and the importance of family. In this way, these stories point us towards the heart of God. Certainly, adoption, in general, is good. That doesn’t mean it’s the right thing for you but as you weigh your options, consider some good aspects of adoption.
Rather than viewing it as a child losing a family, I would encourage you to view adoption as a child being made a part of a family. It is birth parents giving the child the gift of eager, loving, and capable parents to fill a gap they feel they aren’t able to meet in the child’s life. It is adoptive parents giving birth families the gift of knowing their beloved children are wanted, sought out, and adored. Both families give in tandem the child the gift of unified love and a shared desire for his/her best life.
Is adoption good? Are these gifts good? Absolutely. The day my children’s biological mom said, “You’re giving them the life that I want them to have. You are doing exactly what I wish I could,” tears streamed down my face. My heart broke for her loss but also swelled with gratitude for this priceless gift she gave me. The day the judge proclaimed that her children were now ours… There simply are no words to express the significance of a gift like that.
Adoption is the first chapter in a beautiful story.
A friend of mine who became an adoptive momma before me shared the best advice we ever received: tell your child their story early and often. Obviously, this responsibility falls to the adoptive parents, but you as the birth parents get to be the first part of this beautiful story. You are where your child’s story begins and your loving and sacrificial decision to place them in their forever home will be the first line.
When our children were in foster care and our daughter was two, her story began, “I remember the day that Miss Laura brought you home. You were asleep in your car seat when you got here and I picked you up to carry you in…” We focused on how they came to us and not what the future may hold. We celebrated their homecoming even while they were temporarily placed in our home.
As she grew, we added more details and once adoption took place, we revised her story so that it now begins, “When you were a baby, you grew in Aalesha’s tummy…” It makes her smile to hear about herself as a baby and it makes me smile too. It makes her smile to know who gave birth to her and held her when she was itty bitty and I love having the privilege of helping to tell that story. Be sure to share the details of your child’s birth with the adoptive parents so they can also tell him or her the story of the joy their life brought to all who love him. And take heart, the story is beautiful. Good does not mean easy. It’s a hard story too, but it’s good-hard.
Adoption brings joy to the adoptive family.
The day my biological children met the babies who became their (adopted) siblings, their worlds were altered forever. They eagerly tended to these precious little ones and immediately became the proudest big brothers on the planet. They understood love as they had never understood it before. And while the legal side of the adoption process focuses on the commitment of parents, I can say without a doubt that our adoption was a family decision and that these precious children made our lives better than they had ever been before.
As I write this, my teenage son is lying beside his six-year-old brother to help him fall asleep. The oldest likes to have his back rubbed, and the youngest asks for permission to rub his brother’s back every night because it means he doesn’t have to fall asleep alone. Without adoption, this youngest boy would not have experienced the joy of older brothers. He admires them, strives to be like them, and brings them endless entertainment in the process. Without adoption, these older brothers would not have known the sweetness of the little ones. Even in adoptive families without older children, adoption makes dreams come true for parents longing for a child. For all of the hard things that make up adoption, do not lose sight of how joyful it can be.
Open adoption can allow a child to have the best of both worlds: growing up in a forever family that has chosen him or her and knowing and loving his birth parents.
Open adoption is growing in acceptance and is known to be an excellent option to benefit adopted children. It is the path our family has chosen because we believe it is best for our kids and we are extremely grateful for the extended family we have gained through our adoption. There is mutual love and respect between parents of the same child that is difficult to put into words. No two open adoptions are the same. Some use periodic electronic or written communication to share updates and photos. Others involve face-to-face visits.
Ours is a combination of both. When distance divides us, we send texts or do video calls every couple of months or on special occasions. When opportunity allows and the birth parents are in a good place, we plan an activity with our family and include them in it. Our kids always look forward to seeing their birth families and the fact that it’s a shared family activity makes it even more normal and comfortable for them.
Adoption is important because it meets the unique needs and desires of all parts of the adoption triad.
Most importantly, it gives children the consistency of being part of a loving family throughout their lives. Most often, birth families seek an adoptive placement due to an inability to raise a child, for any number of reasons. It is good that birth families have options and can choose to put their child in the best possible environment. It can be scary for a birth family to make such a choice without a guarantee that it will be all positive for the child but the reality is, we never have a guarantee that life will be all positive.
In traditional families where children remain with biological parents, there is no guarantee that the family won’t experience difficulties or a crisis. Many things are outside of our control, but when birth parents make an informed decision about placing their child for adoption, they give that child the best possibility of having a good life in a loving home and they can do so guilt-free, knowing the decision is made in love.
Adoption can be as natural as building a family the traditional way.
Because we speak so openly with our children about their stories, they are proud to be adopted and they don’t hesitate to talk about it. It’s so normal to them that my youngest son once asked a question about his big brother’s friend, inquiring, “Whose tummy did he grow in?” My daughter proudly told her class that because she’s adopted, she has two mommies: a birth mom and her regular momma. We celebrate birthdays and adoptiversaries and are joyful about the way in which each child came home to us. Our kids know their birth parents by name and we pray for them together each night. They have a deeper understanding of what it means to be adopted into God’s family because adoption has been such a natural part of their day-to-day lives.
When asked, “Is adoption good?” I want to shout YES for all to hear, but I don’t want my doing so to belittle the heartache or potential trauma that inevitably accompanies adoption. It’s not an easy decision for birth families but it’s such a beautiful thing for those willing to embrace it. Adoption is the good kind of hard. It is working through challenging emotions, counting blessings, and practicing redos. It is laughing together, playing games, and sharing tears. It is popcorn and movie nights and arguments where voices get raised too much. It is hugs, apologies, and dancing in the rain. It is life. It is family. It is love.
As I think through my own experience with adoption, it is overwhelmingly positive. It has simultaneously been the hardest and the most worthwhile thing our family has ever experienced. Even so, it’s hard to know exactly how young children process all that has happened. We try to use positive adoption language and work to be sure that our kids understand as much as is age-appropriate. They still have a long way to go in grasping the depth of adoption but the informal interview below will give you an idea of where they stand right now.
Here are their unrehearsed responses to my questions:
Eight-year-old Kaylee (four years old at adoption): What does it mean to be adopted? It means that you get a new baby or new sister or brother and it’s a good time to have someone in your family. Is adoption good? Why? Yes! Because you get to celebrate the day someone was adopted in your family. Do you like that you have a birth family and an adoptive family? Why? YES! Because it’s good to be so loved. What’s the best thing about adoption for you? You get to have someone in your family and have a new sister or brother. What do you wish other people understood about adoption? Well, that’s a hard question. I don’t know an answer for that. What is your favorite part of your story? Having a new mom and dad.
Six-year-old Jax (two years old at adoption): What does it mean to be adopted? Adopted means you’re with another family. Is adoption good? Why? Yes! Adoption is good because if you didn’t get adopted, you would just be lonely. Do you like that you have a birth family and an adoptive family? Why? Yes! Because our birth family used to be our mom and dad and it’s good. What’s the best thing about adoption for you? Birthdays. What do you wish other people understood about adoption? That it’s good. I wish that people understood that. What is your favorite part of your story? Me coming home.
These little ones have experienced adoption from the side of the adoptee and they’ve also, more recently, shared the joy of bringing a big (teenage) sister home to our family. It has been sweet for them to see the process of choosing to add a child to our family and to be part of the open-arms that receive a waiting child. Adoption is not at all easy but it is incredibly worthwhile and so very good.