Personal growth through adoption

Amidst the challenges, you'll discover many blessings

By Focus on the Family Canada staff

Back in 1987, Dr. James Dobson wrote the bestseller Parenting Isn’t for Cowards. Adoptive parents would heartily agree with the sentiment expressed in this title.

Why is that?

The process is challenging

Embarking on an adoption is like being attached at the hip to a stranger who will eventually uncover the most intimate and personal details of your life. You will need to lay bare your family of origin, your financial records, your ideas about child rearing, your sex life, your personal health and any criminal records.

Plus, you will spend many hours attending training, gathering paperwork, going to interviews, making your house presentable, then waiting . . . waiting . . . and waiting some more. You will feel out of control, nervous, excited; your blood pressure will soar and drop, and every once in a while you will wonder why you chose to do this in the first place.

When you sign up to become an adoptive parent, you also sign up to have your patience tested and your life scrutinized!

The parenting is challenging

Once you receive your child, there will be many unforeseen opportunities for growth. In addition to all the usual challenges of parenting, adoption adds another layer of issues that will require special parenting skills.

Some common challenges include trauma experienced by the child before adoption, prenatal damage due to drugs or alcohol, and/or attachment challenges. Parenting your child will require energy, patience, wisdom and perseverance, not to mention lots of love. It will cost you financially, emotionally, spiritually, physically, mentally and psychologically. It will require you to admit that you need wisdom beyond your own (James 1:5-6); to examine your heart to see what pain and rebellion still exists there; to change some fundamental things you may cherish in order to meet the needs of someone else. You will not stay the same!

But . . .

The payoff is rewarding

To parent a child who comes from a “hard place” is to engage in a form of spiritual warfare. Our enemy would love to continue his destructive work of destroying the heart and soul of this child. We have received a mandate from God, however, to partner with Him to redeem that soul. We become the human vessel through which God can move into the heart and life of a child and demonstrate His unfailing love.

As believers, we don’t just take our children to church; we love our children as God loves us. We realize that He does not only love us when we are lovable, but when we are rebellious, nasty, unloving, ungrateful and arrogant. This experience sustains us to continue loving our children even when they are not very lovable.

James 1:2-4 is a great passage for adoptive parents:

Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trails of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.

When you sign up to adopt, you may not realize how much you will need to invest in the process. The trails you will face will test your faith, and your dependence on God. Will you do this in your strength or in His? The more you rely on Him, the more determined you will be to resist the enemy, to thwart his efforts to keep your child in bondage.

As you come to the end of your own resources and depend more and more fully on God’s resources, you will find yourself supplied with what you need, and a growing, living faith as well.

Parenting is, indeed, not for cowards. It is, in God’s hands, an amazing opportunity for our growth, as well as the growth of the children entrusted to us.