Welcoming home a fatherless child: Part two

How three dads became interested in fostering and adopting

By Focus on the Family Canada staff

We asked a panel of three Calgary foster and adoptive fathers to join us at a special End the Wait evening in late January. Each one graciously agreed to share his journey of laughter, love and learning about becoming “Dad” to the fatherless child welcomed into his home. This is part two in that series. Check out part one here and part three here.

I want to move forward with fostering or adopting but my spouse doesn’t want to. What should I do?

The decision to bring a new child into the family is one that few couples take lightly. Because fostering or adopting doesn’t happen in an unplanned way, as birth children can, the process to bring a child home is one of careful preparation. But what happens when one spouse is ready for a child, but the other spouse is not?

Adoptive and foster father Mark has observed this situation many times. He points out, “Typically the woman is ready to move forward but the husband is not ready, or not in the same place that she is. Although it can be really hard to delay, my advice would be to wait for a time when you can both be together in the decision.”

Mark acknowledges that for a spouse who is ready and wants to bring home a child, that wait can be excruciating: “The best encouragement I can give you is to pray that God will change the heart. He can and He does. I’ve seen it. But it just might take some time.”

While one spouse is waiting and praying for a change of heart, what happens to the spouse who isn’t ready to foster or adopt? Mark has a challenge for them too: “I think you need to honestly explore why you are holding back. Is it my own sense of comfort? My own desires? Is this me or is God telling me to hold back?”

It can take some time to work through what is really going on. Mark remarks, “Something in you might say, I just don’t want to do this. It could be fear of having to say goodbye. Or maybe it’s the fear of having a family member disapprove.” Preparing to welcome a child home can involve a deep time of soul searching and self-discovery. “Bring what you learn about yourself to God and ask Him what to do with it,” advises Mark.

One of the most common apprehensions about adoption is a sense of not being fully prepared, of being not quite ready. Mark chuckles, then says, “Some of us still don’t feel ready and we’ve been doing it for twenty years.” Parenthood, no matter when or how it happens, can feel like a leap. Mark has learned from experience to rely on God. “You have to really rely on Him. I pray, Please God, give me the strength to do this.”

Adoption works transformation not only in the life of a child, but also in the hearts of parents. The time leading up to a placement is a key opportunity to really engage in what God is doing within. Mark suggests, “Ask God if there is something He wants to do in you through this. Go there. Be open with Him. Let Him do that work in you.”

Unusually, Rick was ready to foster before his wife arrived at that place. He encourages couples to spend time being open with each other and acknowledging and respecting that there is a gap. He advises, “Talk about it openly and freely – fight about it if you have to.” But, like Mark, he encourages spouses to make sure you are together when you move forward. Adoption is a significant commitment to a child and will, with certainty, bring about changes in a family. Being on the same page about how to manage those changes helps protect a marriage and gives the entire family a solid grounding for success.