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Guest Blogger: Jason Helopoulos

Adoption is growing in Christian circles. And in my opinion, that is a good thing. Though I may be a little biased–our two children are adopted. There are many young Christian husbands and wives currently wrestling with whether they should adopt. And in that wrestling different concerns rise to the surface and need to be weighed. Adoption is not for everyone and it can be accompanied with many challenges. Take your time, pray, and think through the issues before you.

Though they are Christian, love children, and see the great need for adoption, the nagging hesitation that may hold some couples back is a concern I wrestled with before adopting. It wasn’t so much the money, or the time, or even the emotional ups and downs of the adoption process. It was something much deeper. A question that I often felt guilty for even considering. I asked myself on more than one occasion, “Will I love these children as ‘my own?'”

Our daughter has been with us for seven years. My son has been part of our family for four years. And I can honestly say, that there has not been a single day that I have thought anything other than, “These are my children.” I almost never think about them being adopted. Someone once asked me if we had told our children that they weren’t our biological children. I chuckled and said, “Of course, but they don’t need to be told. It is pretty evident. They are Chinese and we are Caucasian.” My daughter has the innocent habit of running up to Asian individuals and putting her arm next to theirs and saying, “Look, we have the same skin!” There is no hiding the fact from her!

There are plenty of times in our home life when we talk about them being adopted. They love to hear their adoption stories, we celebrate their adoption days (think of it as another birthday–we always go to a good Chinese restaurant), and we often look through the photo album of our journey to the orphanage, where they spent the early months of their lives. But other than those moments or when a stranger walks up to us at the grocery store to ask where they are adopted from (and yes, this happens often), I never think about them being adopted. I am always caught a little off-guard when someone makes a comment or asks a question about their adoption. I am not offended, just surprised by the question because I seldom think about it.

In no way am I opposed to thinking more about them being adopted. I am happy to think about it and love talking about it with them. The fact is, I don’t think about it much. Because this is just  my daughter and this is just my son. The fear that I had before adoption, that a child void of my DNA or blood would somehow not feel like my child, has been so far from realized that it almost seems silly. However, I say almost, because I am sensitive to the fact that this is not true for every single person who has ever adopted. And so the question needs to truly be weighed and prayed through.

If you are thinking of adoption and this thought occupies your minds, it isn’t a wrong question. It isn’t a sinful question. And it is surely not a question that you should feel guilty for asking. But I can say on this side of adoption, if your experience is anything like mine, this question will never pass through your thoughts again.

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30 thoughts on “Adoption: A Real Question Many Have”

  1. Nick Horton says:

    Something Russell Moore said in his book “Adopted for Life” stuck with me when I wrestled with this. I am paraphrasing; “Do you want to be parents, or do you want to be conservators of your genetic code?” It’s a great question that rocked the boat of my thinking. I wondered if I would love the adopted children as much as a genetic child. And then, as usual for Dr. Moore, he crystalized everything in a question. Do I want to be a parent, or do I just want to make sure my genetics are propagated? Now this is obviously not to say that biological children are wrong; I have one. But it does help me understand the path a child takes to come in to my family does not mean they are any different. God used a different road to deliver them, (or will, since we are waiting on referral), but they will still be “delivered” to us as son or daughter. Fully accepted and loved.

  2. Elaina says:

    Well, this is an excellent question that parents-to-be of adopted children should well consider going in. I was adopted in the 1960’s when my father and mother found out that they probably couldn’t have kids. A few months after they were officially and legally my parents, my mother got pregnant. She had three biological kids after me.

    I’m convinced that there will always be an underlying bias or difference between how parents view their own flesh and blood, no matter how well-intended they may be.

    Granted my parents weren’t Christian and I didn’t look like the rest of my family, darker skin, ethnic hair and green eyes. My brothers and sister had blonde, actually almost white hair, as kids and very light skin and brown eyes. So, there was the physical reminder that was impossible to ignore on a daily basis and whenever we interacted with other families and friends. And even as we grew older there were a thousand little gestures and affections that confirmed their preference for their own biological kids.

    Of my immediate family, I’m the only one who, by the Grace of God, has faith in Christ as my Lord and Savior.

    Now that my parents are into their late seventies, I still see them often, try to love them as if there was no barrier between us, and witness Christ to the best of my ability. I’ve been told by my siblings that I’m not in their will, as they want their inheritance “to stay in the family”. Yes, I often feel hurt if I let myself, but I pray for Christ’s strength to continue to love them and share the gospel whenever I have opportunity. My church and I pray for their salvation regularly.

  3. Jim says:

    The question of “Will I love these children as my own” is a good question to ask. And natural, since we cannot love perfectly like our Father.

    Yet we have His example. Our Abba Father chose to love us like He loves His son. He can do that perfectly. We cannot do that perfectly, but we can love adopted children as our own. We have the example and exhortation in Scripture.

    After raising two (now adult) children and being empty-nesters for some years, we adopted two 13-year-old girls from China. Both of them were abandoned later in their childhood (9 years and 11 years). We’ve been home ten weeks. And there are challenges.

    Yet we think of how we challenge God everyday with our wandering hearts, ponder our grafted-in heir status in God’s family, and marvel that we would have such a privilege. With such love in mind, we wake up each day intent on loving our girls as our children. Yes, at first it feels different than bio kids, but we don’t base our love on feelings, right?

    We love our girls as our own. We count it a mercy from God that He would allow us to be Mama and Baba to these two precious children, in order that He can give them a hope and a future.

  4. Jason says:

    As a recently new adoptive father of three children I think a better response to this question, and the one I give when asked, is that all love is a choice. I don’t share any DNA with my wife but I choose on a daily basis to love her. Most of the time that choice is easy because of emotions but sometimes I make that choice in spite of emotions. The same can be said with children, adopted or not. There will be days when you feel love for them and it’s easy. And there will be days when you don’t feel it so much but you make the choice to love them anyway. To say “of course you’ll love them, look at me” is a bit misleading, especially to families who adopt children that have spent some hard years in an institution and come out with serious behavioral issues. But the gospel is God loving us in spite of our issues and if God’s calling someone to adopt then he’ll give them the grace every day to make the choice to love the children he brings into their lives.

  5. Keith Belcher says:

    Jason, my experience is much like yours. In fact, if I wasn’t reminded of it by other people, I would never think about our daughter being adopted. Grant it, she is now 13 years old and we have been blessed with her right out of the hospital nursery.

    A better question for me now is “What happened to that cute, innocent little Daddy’s Girl at the age of 12???”

  6. Phil says:

    Excellent post! We have 4 adopted children…3 post birth and 1 pre-birth (snowflake/ embryo)…and like you, the only time we think “adopted” is when somebody else raises the issue.
    Like many, my wife had similar “pre-adoption” concerns…but it didn’t take long for the concerns to disappear as their little lives joined with our’s.
    We all need to parent in the grace and love provided by the Father…so whether genetics match or not, we will only be able to truly love if we keep looking to Him.

  7. Tim Webb says:

    Rev. Helopoulos,

    You mention many “young” Christian husbands & wives consider adopting, but some of us “older” ones consider it too. Thank you for this article. To be honest, the question of how I would love adopted children is a significant roadblock (among others) when I consider adopting, so I appreciate your thoughts.

  8. Melody says:

    Thanks for this post :)

    I’m not married yet, but I’ve known I wanted to adopt children since I was a little girl. I’ve never imagined I would have trouble loving them like my own, but I’ve read a number of articles about the perils of adoption. I think it’s good to go in knowing all the ways it will be rough, I want to be prepared, but it’s nice to also read about the ways it will be good :)

  9. AStev says:

    I found Nick Hortan and Jason Gregory’s comments here to be extremely helpful and encouraging. Thankful for this article and the ensuing conversation!

  10. Philippa says:

    Elaina – I am so, so sorry you experienced such painful rejection from your adoptive family. :( Their attitudes are shocking to me.

    I, too, was adopted in the 1960s, as a young baby. (I was with my birth mum, an unmarried teenager, for the six weeks before she had to give me up. A deeply traumatic and painful time for her – happily, I was reunited with her in the 1990s.)

    My adoptive parents are Christians and they are also wonderful. They already had two bio children before they adopted me and my younger sister. They always, ALWAYS, accepted their adopted children 100%. I grew up in a loving, close family, in which we were all equally accepted and loved. M y adoptive siblings ARE my siblings. They are as much my siblings as the lovely bio brother and sister I also made contact with.

    You show great grace and forgiveness. May you be healed by the deep love of your heavenly Father for you, His forever daughter.

    Philippa, from the UK

    P.S. I realise that older adopted children have far greater difficulty in bonding and attachment than children adopted at a young age. Even for a happy adoptee like myself, who celebrates her adoption (while mourning the relinquishment), separation anxiety can still be an issue. My heart goes out to today’s adoptees, who I believe face even tougher challenges than my generation of adoptees. But God is great, and can work miracles.

  11. We have 3 biological kiddos and 2 adopted…
    And I remember wondering-worrying-praying over this question too.
    It’s a very real, normal question for those prayerfully considering adoption.

    I wrote a series last fall about adoption and I’m convinced that the most important question you can and should ask when it comes to adoption is– Is God telling us to do this?

    Because there’s no guarantee that things will be easy or that you’ll “feel” an immediate connection. We have many, many friends & family who have adopted and in the mix, some really struggled.
    But God, by His grace in His goodness, has over time, blessed their willingness to choose love.

    My husband and I did immediately bond with both of our adopted children and I forget that they are adopted, as you described above. In fact, when one of our daughters was small on the growth charts, I found my husband’s growth chart in his baby book…and it matched our daughter’s. I was preparing to make a copy and take it into our doctor to show him how closely they were aligned :)
    Never mind the fact, that they share NO genetics…and she looks nothing like him. :)

    I only remember when she YELLS at someone across the market aisles– “HEY…you have brown skin too!!! We match!!!” :)

    Our 4th daughter died from a disease a few years ago…and I couldn’t-wouldn’t have possible grieved any deeper if we’d shared genetics.

    I’m fully convinced that the love between an adoptive parent and child is strong and true and real and just as deep as any biological tie.

    Again– if God is leading a family toward adoption…I really think you can cling to that assurance as you move forward. And that is the most important question to ask and get answered– Is He telling us to do this?

  12. Niles says:

    Hi, all.

    Lord willing, my wife and I (both of us 30 y/o) will be adopting a newborn girl (domestic, USA) this May. I’ve come up against many fears and troubles during the past 2 years in our adoption journey. I never really struggled very heavily with the fear described in this article. I would give God credit for the grace in this. Maybe having two bio sons helped things. I don’t know.

    What I do know is that if the Lord wills our adoption in a few weeks to be completed (we’ve had 2 failed), then her daughtership (is that a word?) is as sure to me and my heart as my sonship in Christ. Her status is anchored there. To my mind it can’t move, and of course my heart is usually many steps ahead of my mind.

    The thing that stuck with me about Moore’s Adopted for Life was the highlighting of Jesus’s relationship to his earthly father, Joseph. It is in Christ’s adoption by Joseph that prophecies were fulfilled. Let that sink in… Adoption, as far as sonship is concerned, is complete/official/spiritually/legally enough to fulfill prophecies and thus confirm Jesus status as Christ. And so it is more than enough so to bind adopted sons and daughters to their adoptive Moms and Dads forever.

    Would really appreciate my brothers and sisters here to pray for us! Thanks!

  13. Niles…stopping to pray for your adoption. It’s so hard-heart-breaking when an adoption falls through, but I can tell you really do trust God’s timing and His plan. Write it all down somewhere. It’s so good to look back and see His fingerprints all over the journey. Praying for this new little baby girl and for your family as you entering this last phase of waiting…

  14. Niles says:

    Thanks so much, Kara! Great suggestion. We’ve been blogging since the beginning and have already seen the Lord’s hand at work, even if things haven’t gone as we expected. I linked the blog for this reply.

    Thanks again!

  15. Elaina says:

    Thanks Philippa! I appreciate the kind words and the hope presented in your comment.

    Also, regarding some of the other comments, I’ve never read Adopted for Life by Russell Moore, but it sounds like an excellent resource.

  16. Lou G. says:

    Elaina, your snippet of story, whilst sad, was very helpful to us, I believe.

    It’s important to let others know that it’s not a given that your adopted children will automatically be welcomed and embraced automatically with the same level of affection as biological children. Just like sometimes even biological kids are hard to love or perhaps one biological kid can be preferred over another because he is male (you all know this is true for some) or because she looks and acts just like you. Certainly, it is quite possibly the matter that will be exacerbated in some settings when the biological connection is not there, even in Christian homes.

    I mean let’s be honest. Really honest. Look at us in church. Most of us prefer our comfortable little cliques with our family members and closest friends to truly developing Gospel community with those who are different from us or even foreign to us.

    Do we really think it will be easier day in and day out, all hours of the night, year after year. to portray an equal quality and quantity of love and affection for adopted children when our birth children are right there along side, in the same room, at the same table, in the same cars…??

    Yes, of course, with the Grace of God, it is possible. But please, please let us not assume that just because we’re Christian this is slam dunk. Thanks!

  17. Kris D. says:

    Honestly, I struggle more with how we will afford to adopt. We make too much to qualify for grants, and yet we live in a very expense city where 40% of our income goes to housing. We both need to work full time, which means $$ for childcare as well, and $30K+ per kid is a ton for us, not to mention the day-care we’ll need so we can both work. We would absolutely love to be parents (and I agree with Moore’s thinking on this), but financially it seems impossible.

  18. Juliet Applegate says:

    We adopted 2 sisters over 20 years ago. Did you ever consider that adoption is somewhat like marriage? You have made a lifelong commitment in Christ to another person you are not physically related to. They aren’t your same sex or genetics… needless to mention. I feel like I married my husband, a bond Christ enables me to keep, and I “married” my two daughters.
    We found it was very good to adopt siblings since they then had ONE origin story that they shared, and they had someone that was their own flesh and blood in the family.

  19. joann says:

    As I read this article I remembered a friend of mine with an adopted daughter. One day the dentist noticed a unique feature of her teeth and wanted to see if it might be inherited. My friend was actually sitting in the chair before he thought about her being adopted.

  20. Paul janssen says:

    This is all interesting, but very little from the point if view of the adoptee. As a father of two adopted children, I can tell you that issues will change. When the kids are young, you ask Jason’s question. As they get older, and the kids ask identity questions, the far more profound issue is whether they can love you as they would their biological parents. Many, if not most, make an adjustment through this time successfully. But the percentages of adolescent adoptees that become depressed, or do self harm, or are involved in other maladaptive responses, are huge. This is no reason not to adopt, of course. All I’m saying is that it’s far more important for adoptive parents to attempt to think through their kids’ issues than to ponder their own.

  21. Lou G. says:

    Excellent points, Paul! Thanks for helping me with asking these kinds of questions.

  22. Jeffrey Powell says:

    Another question to consider is, “will the child love us as their own?” Persons considering adoption of any child need to familiarize themselves with the concept of attachment disorder and understand how to approach it.

  23. Jenni says:

    I enjoyed your article and am grateful for how well your experience has been. I do however feel that it is worthwhile to note that adopting an infant or young child is drastically different than adopting an older child. Also, adopting a child that is not the youngest but is sandwiched in between a pile of bios makes a difference too. We have loved our adopted son fiercely since before we met him, but our emotions towards him are a growth process. Love is a choice, affection is a feeling. We have chosen to love and continue to trust God for the feelings. God has already grown such great affection in our hearts that I trust that one day there will be no difference in our affections towards our precious, delightful, joyful son. We love him the same and treat him the same, but we simply don’t have the same affection that grows with time and knowledge… That part is the process. It is a time of blooming and we are grateful to see the buds of this blossom both from him and toward him. He has been in our family for one year and a few months. Our house is bouncing with energy with 6 kids aged 8 and under and I am so very blessed to GET to be a mom to each and every one of these little gifts!!

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