Adoption: Nothing Like It

When I wrote about the similarities between my father and me this past Wednesday, I purposely omitted one important fact: I’m adopted. So those similarities have nothing to do with my adoptive father. Not knowing the identity of my birth parents or anything about them, not even their medical history, I can’t say which of my characteristics are like those of my birth father.

But that’s okay. This post isn’t about heredity vs. environment.  So let me move on.

Several days ago I was talking with an author friend who adopted a baby from China. When I say “from,” I’m being literal. As I understand it, she actually traveled to China to pick her baby-to-be up and bring her back to the States. She was raving to me about what a wonderful experience raising an adopted child was for her.

It’s no wonder she had this to say about adoption. “Adoption is a wonderful thing! Any child who was adopted can know that they were truly wanted.”

Of course she wasn’t telling me anything I didn’t already know. My adopted daughter, Kristi, will be twenty-nine this year, and she, her husband, her son, and her yet-to-be-born second son live way too far away in another state. But one of many things my adoptive parents did right was to rear me to be independent, and that’s a quality I gladly encouraged in Kristi.

My (now ex-) wife and I had never had any reason to think about adoption. Especially once she got pregnant. Beth’s birth in August of 1976 was a joyous time…until she died unexpectedly three days later. It turned out that her heart was not properly formed and the condition she had would normally have resulted in her death at birth. For whatever reason–most likely a gift from God–she didn’t. If you want to read what I wrote about that time in our lives, go here. But make sure you have a good supply of tissues nearby.

Debbie never got pregnant again, and it wasn’t for lack of effort. She even arranged to have microsurgery at Johns Hopkins Hospital to correct what seemed the likely problem. That didn’t help.

Eight years later we found ourselves living in Richmond, Virginia. Still childless. We decided to adopt, even though we were all too familiar with the stories about how long it takes to get a baby. To the best of my knowledge, we never considered adopting a child or someone with known medical problems.

We learned of Kristi’s availability during November of 1987. She was six or seven months old at the time and had been living in a foster home. The adoption agency provided us with basic family medical info, but nothing more except her birth mother was an unmarried upper teen and she’d been born in Newport News. (Even now Kristi periodically calls or texts and asks, “Once more, where was I born?” Too funny.)

We fell in love with her instantly, although that red hair should’ve made us think twice about possible temperament problems. But that wouldn’t have stopped us even if it had made us apprehensive. We already loved her. Do you recall the Savage Garden song “I Loved You Before I Knew You”? Even though that’s a love song, it describes our feelings for Kristi perfectly.

For the greater part, Kristi was a wonderful child and has grown into a fine adult. One we’re quite proud of.

One thing her adoption did perfectly was to make her a pro-life advocate. How could it not have done that?  She knows that her birth mother loved her enough not to abort her…and enough to allow her to become the child of a couple who could provide her with the kind of family she herself could not have done.

We know other people who’ve adopted. Jenny and Athos, close friends who adopted while living in Brazil and have now become birth parents to a second son and are awaiting the birth of a girl now; Isaac, a former co-worker, and Alice, who somehow learned of a baby available for a private adoption. Jonathon and his wife, who made numerous trips to Africa to finalize the adoption, even though they already had two kids; a sweet couple at church. And my author friend.

Ask any of them. They’ll all tell you the same thing.  “Adoption? There’s nothing like it.”

What’s your take on adoption? How about sharing a comment?


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Best regards,

2 thoughts on “Adoption: Nothing Like It

  1. Last year we decided to try foster parenting. We took the classes, but somehow we imagined it wouldn’t really work out because we weren’t 100% sure we wanted to do it. On the last day of class our instructor came over with a grin. “So we have a low functioning ten year old girl . . .”
    I was concerned I wouldn’t know how to love a kid with disabilities. The day we met at the depressing residential home I was really nervous until she walked into the room. Her mother and father gave up their rights to her and when her other sisters were adopted by another family we knew we’d have to adopt her because once she came to live with us she was no longer some random kid with weird problems, but our daughter. It amazes me how God changed my heart.


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