Would We Do This Whole Journey Over Again If We Could?

A few weeks ago I received an email from one of our readers asking if we would do the whole adoption or foster care journey over again if we had the chance. My answer was simple.

Arizona Scenic Drive. Driving Down the Road During Scenic Summer Sunset. Summer Trip.

I’m standing in the Orlando International Airport with my 14 year old daughter, waiting for her to board a plane for Indianapolis. She’s heading home while I’m jumping another flight to Tulsa for my next speaking engagement. She clutches my hand tightly. Even at 14 years old she still holds my hand in public. It never stops warming my heart.

I step to the side as she steps toward the woman taking tickets. As the scanner beeps and the attendant welcomes her, she walks down the jet ramp and disappears a few seconds later. How in the world did she become so grown up, I wonder to myself. Tears fill the corner of my eyes as I turn to head toward my departure gate. After picking up a cup of coffee I find a spot by my departure gate. I’m suddenly overcome with emotion as I think about her boarding a different plane. Silly, I think. I’ll see her and the rest of my family tomorrow. But my heart can’t stop itself. “Gosh I love my kids,” I whisper.

I begin to think about the email I received. I can understand where it’s coming from. Just a paragraph or two before posing the question about our choice to do it again, this father of 3 poured his heart out. He and his wife have been pushed to the edge, and beyond, by their children. All 3 adopted from the foster care system. An 11 year old daughter with FASD (Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder), a 14 year old son with RAD (Reactive Attachment Disorder) and a 3 year old son who’s suddenly showing signs of both disorders. “This is not what I signed up for,” he admits. Then he asks, “Would you do it again? If you could start over being a parent, would you do this entire thing over again? Would you foster? Adopt?”

Perfectly Imperfect.

It’s been an unbelievably difficult 14 years for us. Anything but perfect. The scars we wear on our heart, and all over our body is proof. If I had a dollar for every time we had the thought, “I didn’t sign up for this,” I’d be a multi-millionaire. That’s why I totally get where this father is coming from. I could feel every word he was typing.

I close my eyes and can see all of the dark moments in our family’s life as clearly as when they were happening. I see the police showing up on my doorstep one summer afternoon a few years ago looking for one of my kids. I see DCS showing up to investigate. I see my son being put into a police cruiser and driven to a psychiatric ward. I see my daughter coming home with a black eye and bruises all over her. I see us driving to pick up my son to move him to a different residential facility. I hear Kristin’s phone call to tell me they’re parked on the side of the road, standing outside of the car, because my child was flipping out and hitting.

Any normal person would read that and think to themselves…why would anyone in their right mind sign up for that? It’s seems as though we are gluttons for punishment. After all, most are looking to live the perfect American story right? This is not it. So, why?

I’ll tell you why…. the heart. That’s why. While most see the imperfections of our story, I see how perfectly imperfect it is. I see how perfectly God has woven everything together in a perfect tapestry of grace and love. In-spite of the darkness, there’s no way I could tell a more powerful, nor beautiful story. And I say that in the middle of some very dark circumstances. Even now.

It’s the heart that drives us to this crazy, unbelievable choice. And it would be the heart that drove us all over again.

The heart of it all.

If there’s one thing I’ve learned about this journey it’s that it takes a very special heart. That’s why not every human being is called to be foster or adoptive parents. We possess a very strange set of eyes and heart.

The eyes of foster and adoptive parents see through the wreckage and brokenness of this world, to the very heart of humanity. We’re not phased by broken. We see the potential. We believe in redemption. We know that everything is repairable. There are no lost causes or hopeless cases. There’s only bigger stories.

Every time I look at my children, I see the future. Even when I’ve been driven to the edge and beyond. Our story is not hopeless, it’s beautiful. It’s perfectly imperfect and that’s just the way we like it.

Yes.

So, my answer is simple. Yes! A trillion times over….yes! Sign me up. Show me where to board. I’m in. The depth of my heart is greater than the scars on my arms. You may shake your head and call me naive. After all of the bombs we’ve sustained in our family, our marriage, and our parenting, some may call it reckless. Some called it reckless when we decided to adopt and foster in the first place. I didn’t care then and I don’t care today.

While foster care and adoption has taken the life out of us, it’s also filled us with more life then we could ever imagine. For every time my heart’s been ripped out of my chest by desperate and dark moments, it’s wanted to beat out of my chest with love and compassion. As the faces of my beautiful children flash through my mind I am overwhelmed. I love them more than anything. In-spite of the rough rough road we’ve traveled.

So….yes! Show me where to jump and I’m off the edge.

Question: Are you a foster or adoptive parent? Would you do it over again if you had the chance? You can leave a comment by clicking here.

Get our brand new Self-Care guide for FREE!

Self_care_guide_graphic-_medium

We've custom-designed the Self-Care Quick Start Guide Info-graphic and Video to help you take simple steps to improving your emotional, spiritual, and physical health as a parent. Trust us, we know how difficult this journey can be. But you don't have to do it alone. Let us help you! Self-care begins here and it's completely FREE when you subscribe to our blog!

We won't send you spam. It's our guarantee! Powered by ConvertKit

Please note: We reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

  • Murray Coulter

    Well said. We haven’t had to deal with the same depth of issues you have. Hopefully it helps that we have had to deal with prenatal trauma from FASD.

  • Robin

    I would do it over again to get my son, even though we’ve been thru & r still going thru dealing w/ his FAE diagnosis. However, we wanted more children after adopting him & continued to foster, & I am questioning whether this was the right thing to do. After 6 more years of this, we’ve had 2 failed adoptions & a ton of heartaches, depression, stress, & it has drained & strained our entire family. Yes, we’ve helped many children on their journey to their forever home & that is ossum! But, in an attempt to help many other children, we’ve exposed our family to all manner of filth that the foster kids have brought with them, had our lives threatened, & have had to have children removed from our home. When I look at the toll it’s taken on me & my family, I am concerned of whether I should have stopped years ago. I know God is pleased with our efforts because in trying to adopt, we did help many. I’ll just have to be satisfied with that, because after all this time & effort & sacrifice, we still have not added anyone to our family. Now I’m older & tired & in the midst of sending our teen & last) foster son to a TFC shelter. I’m just done! So to answer ur question, yes & no & bottom line: if I could have had my own kids naturally, I wld have never even started this crazy journey thru fostering & adoption. But I have my son, & for that, I am forever grateful!

    • Robin, I love reading this. Love the fight you put up for the sake of your child. Keep that up. So inspiring.

  • Allisonm

    In that question, there’s an implicit “if you knew up front what was going to happen along the way.”

    I have never regretted adopting our children. They came to us like a herd of frantic cats, clawing desperately for some sense of safety that they didn’t believe was possible. We were, after all, their eleventh placement this time in foster care. Why should they trust us? They shouldn’t and didn’t. Eight years later, it’s still a challenge. We sought assistance and got long lists of diagnoses, most of which turned out to be accurate. We failed our way through progressively more intensive services until we received meaningful help through an agency that served the most severe one percent of children in the public mental-health system. I accumulated a lot of scars, physical and emotional. We were criticized and shunned by people who thought we must be doing it wrong or our kids would have been fine by now. We experienced levels of exhaustion and grief we didn’t know were possible–and kept going forward, sometimes on our hand and knees. We learned how to talk to police, teachers, doctors, therapists, EMT’s, bureaucrats, and concerned family and neighbors. We cared for our elderly parents and worked to cultivate the kind of neighborhood we want to live in, because life with challenged kids doesn’t happen in a vacuum.

    There is no way to know up front what it will take to parent any child–especially children with challenges that strike so deeply at the core of what it is to be part of a strong and loving family, in intimate and secure relationships with those closest to them. My heart had to grow to be big enough for all of us; strong enough to beat a rhythm that our children could tune their hearts to until theirs could beat steadily. My Creator has tuned my heart to His. Though I have quailed many times in the face of the truly appalling, my Savior’s heart, which is so much deeper than mine will ever be, has kept my heart going. He has given me the tenacity necessary to keep me crawling when I have no idea of how to go forward from where we are. How could I regret that?

    And our children are thriving. Not fixed or entirely healed, but thriving. Even our youngest, who continues to be severely disabled, now bears little resemblance to the child described in the diagnostic reports. God is their God, too, and He is working in their hearts, minds, and bodies. It is gratifying to see this. But even without this result, I would not regret stepping forward in faith to parent our children, no matter how painful the outcome. This life is such a brief sojourn and what happens here is only the beginning of the story.

  • Pingback: Would We Do This Whole Journey Over Again If We Could? -()

  • Esther Ames

    I raised 3 bio sons and fostered 44 when they were young and now have adopted 6 from foster care. We are going through a really rough patch but I can’t imagine my life without any one of them. God called us to this work and we are blessed by each one of them. I would do it again in a heartbeat and I actually did after 20 years in between. You do have to have the heart for it cause often the work is exhausting and thankless but God keeps stepping up and helping us be enough. We have an opportunity to make a difference in the lives of these children bounced from placement to placement because of behavior and show them God’s unconditional love.