Fourteen years ago I was a wide-eyed, headstrong, and terrified pre-adoptive father. The start of a new journey was exciting to me, but there were so many things I was afraid of. In the middle of it, though, I found hope. If only I could go back in time and whisper to my 25 year old self. Instead, here’s a letter to any other man who feels the way I felt 14 years ago…
Dear Pre-Adoptive Father,
Let me begin by congratulating you. It takes a lot of guts to even consider doing what you are about to do. To be willing to simply talk about the possibility of bringing a child into your home through adoption is, well, amazing! So, kudos. Second, let me say that, I know. I know what has been racing through your mind every single moment since the idea of adoption came up…
- “How in the world could I love a child that’s not biologically mine?”
- “What if we bring a child into our home and he or she is completely out of control?”
- “What if the birth mom changes her mind and takes her baby back?”
- “What if our families won’t accept this?”
- “How in the world are we going to find the means to pay for this?”
- “Am I really ready for this?”
The list goes on and on!
I bet these thoughts, and many more like them, have plagued you like the flu.
You find yourself waking up in the middle of the night wondering…worrying…fearful! And if that wasn’t bad enough, your mind just won’t leave you alone! You’re bombarded with other thoughts like, “What will people think about us?” or, “This is not the way I saw our lives going!”
I know because I’ve been there. Once upon a time I was apprehensive and worried just like you. I remember the night my wife suggested that we adopt. We were in college. I was probably more resistant that you are right now. I pretty much put my foot down and proclaimed that “In our family we get married, get a good job, find the perfect little house, and start making mini-me’s! End of story.” Boy was I self-centered and arrogant!
It wasn’t that I was against adoption. I just didn’t understand it. I grew up in a family that had all of their children biologically. Bringing a child into my home that I did not “create” was…well… a foreign idea to me. Besides, I really did fear that I would end up detached emotionally and affectionately from a child that was not biologically mine. I feared one day looking at this child, and then looking at my biological children (if we had them), and feeling resentment. Or worse, no emotion at all. I bet you’re nodding your head right now, because you’ve been in that trench!
Let me encourage you with this: Those are all real fears. Don’t let anyone tell you you shouldn’t think them. Nearly every man wrestles with stuff like this when they first begin the journey. I wrestled with them times infinity! Remember, I resisted. I want you to be encouraged in knowing that you are not alone. The truth is, you start to feel isolated when you have questions like the ones I shared above. You especially feel this way if your wife or other family members are excited about the idea of adoption, and you’re still searching. I get it. And I share this openly because there’s healing in discovering others struggle the same way.
But let me also encourage you with this: If you are a person who has the ability to love, you will love any child, whether they are biologically yours or not. And, think about this- even children that are biologically related to you, or children you may someday have biologically, are not “yours” so-to-speak. As a man you really do not have anything to do with “creating” a child. Your wife does all the work. Except, of course, the….eh-hem….moment 9 months earlier!
Lastly, let me speak from my heart and say this: In-spite of your fears, your hang-ups, your apprehensions, your resistance, your what-ifs, or your questions, nothing, and I mean NOTHING, is better than holding that precious bundle of joy in your arms for the first time. Nothing is better than feeding her or rocking her to sleep. When you look into her glowing eyes for the first time, all of those fears or hang-ups melt away like snow on a warm day!
As I look at my life, nearly 14 years after we first adopted, I couldn’t write a better script. It’s perfect. Actually, it’s perfectly imperfect. I look at my 8 children, all of whom came to us through adoption, and I could not imagine life without them. Even on the bad days. I promise you will feel the same way. So, stay the course. You can do this. I know you can because I did and I used to be pretty self-centered and clueless! I’m not kidding. Ask my wife if you don’t believe me.
Open your heart. Even if you don’t have all the answers, open up your heart. You’ve been given a great capacity to love as a human being. When do this simple act, you’ll be amazed at where your heart will take you. As a man and a father who has gone before you, my thoughts and prayers will be with you. I’m in your corner and…friend, I’m cheering for you!
Question: Current adoptive fathers, what else would you add? You can leave a comment by clicking here.
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