As a part of our Thoughts from the Dad series, I sat down with my best friend and husband of 15 years and asked him a few questions about our adoption of our daughter, Callie. I hope his answers will be helpful to you whether you are just beginning the adoption journey or are already knee deep in the process.
Me: How did you feel when I first wanted to adopt and you weren’t quite ready?
Charles: I remember your heart was so open to the injustices in the world and all kinds of expressions of that. It felt like adoption was one we had talked about and were open to, but I didn’t know how that fit into the long range plan of our family and if that meant we were done having biological children. I probably initially had more questions than answers. I would definitely say I was open along with you but it takes me time to make decisions and I just needed take it slow.
Me: What helped you know it was time to adopt?
Charles: As we make big life decisions on anything, we cover those with prayer, seek wise counsel and have personal time with the Lord. It just felt that this is where God was moving us. The question we kept asking ourselves was “should we do this?” I remember being on our way back home from a trip to North Carolina and beginning to wrestle with a different question: “Why would we not adopt?” We had the margin financially, emotionally, and physically to open up our lives to another child. I felt a peace, excitement, and confidence that this was the next step for our family.
Me: What would you tell another dad who is scared that he won’t be able to love a child who is not his biological child?
Charles: I really like that our adoption training wasn’t sugar coated. That specific fear was talked about openly and it was recognized that for many people, there is not an immediate bond with their adopted child. I did have legitimate concerns if I would be able to love a child who I didn’t know, who didn’t look like me, and was from another culture. I wondered how I was going to love that child like I loved our biological kids.
I would tell dads that it is a real fear and real thing but where I am with my daughter today and where I was when I first met her is such a different place. I knew from our training I had permission to not have to feel a certain emotion right away. I trusted the Lord would give me that love and I remember praying that God would work in my heart and her heart and that He would grow our love toward each other. I can honestly say that through time, prayer, and seeing her personality come alive, our love and bond has grown and a deep love has rooted in my heart for her. I love her fully and completely and in the same way I love my biological children. So, I have confidence in saying that love will come in time even if it is not immediately there.
Me: How did you handle Callie not accepting you right away?
Charles: In the same way that I knew it would take time for my love to grow for Callie, I also knew it would take time for her love to grow for me. When we were in China that first week, she would scream and cry if I would even walk within 15 feet of her. She had no category in her brain for a father. Almost every picture of us those first few days together is of Callie crying when I tried to hold her. Thankfully our agency had prepared us that our child may reject one of us at first.
I didn’t take it personally and gave her plenty of time to get used to me. I let you hold her while I fed her fun things like her first bite of waffle or her first taste of ice cream. I entertained her with silly antics like juggling or balancing blocks on my forehead. Eventually she warmed up to me and by the time we arrived home she was quick to let me hold her and comfort her.
Me: Why would you encourage families to adopt?
Charles: There is a real need in our world for kids to have homes. They need moms and dads to love them and point them to Jesus. It is also an incredible opportunity to model for others in your family what it means to put the love of God into action and care for orphans.
I love what our two boys are getting to experience because of that decision and the blessing they have received by having a sister. I love that they see their parents opening up their home and their hands to a child who doesn’t look like them. I think that we are really broadening their view of the gospel through that.
Me: How would you encourage someone whose spouse isn’t yet on board with adoption?
Charles: One of the biggest aspects of social injustices is the need for exposure and awareness. You have been so helpful in me becoming more and more aware of the need for children to have families. We can become so insulated in our lives.
We have legitimate concerns, stresses, and worries in our own lives. However, sometimes they can limit our view and we can’t see beyond them. When I was exposed to the need for kids to have families, it opened my eyes to the orphan crisis and it helped to propel me forward.
In any decision there are two questions that people are wanting to know and those two questions are:
“Is it worth it?” and “Can I do it?”
First of all, it’s absolutely worth it! We have the opportunity to shape our family and to broadcast Jesus in a way that is so tangible. We can model Jesus’ love even if it feels like only a small way to help.
The other question, “Can I do it?” is the one you have to wrestle through. We had to ask ourselves about our margin financially, emotionally and physically. Ultimately, we felt like God showed us He would give us the strength, patience, love and financial provision for another child.
Me: As the financial provider of our home, did you feel the weight of the adoption costs and was that a potential deterrent for you?
Charles: We approached the decision to adopt with a lot of prayer so when we ultimately made the decision to proceed, I trusted that the Lord would fund what He put on our heart to do. That often looks different for each family and there are so many stories of how God provides for others’ adoptions.
Whether you invite other people to be a part of the process or God helps you figure out ways to manage or grow your income, I know that He is a God who will provide.
I think God will help you get creative to figure out the solution if He has put it on your heart to adopt. I wasn’t stressed about the costs, because I just sensed the Lord was going to help us figure it out and He has.
Me: How would you encourage men to lead their wives through the adoption process as they wait for a child?
Charles: This sounds so cliché but I would tell the husbands to regularly remind their spouses that God’s timing is perfect. It is so tempting to get uptight in the process and wonder when the paperwork is going to move through the system or when a file will come your way. God knows the day and even the exact hour when that child needs to be a part of your family. I would encourage husbands to keep gently reminding their spouses that when the anxiousness and restlessness comes, ultimately God is in control and He knows. We need to rest in His timing.
Me: How has God used adoption in your life?
Charles: One of the coolest things about adoption is just seeing our daughter and knowing that she is a full-fledged member of our family. Everything that is available to us is available to her. Rich, good relationships that we have developed with family and friends are available to her. She has access to all of it. Her adoption is a reminder to me of how Christ offers that to us as well. We have complete access to His kingdom and to be considered His family. We didn’t do anything to earn it. Our daughter, Callie, didn’t do anything to earn a family. God just chose for her to have a family out of His love. In the same way God has given us this gift of His family.