I’m not going to lie. I have never really truly been able to grasp how someone could ask such a thing. When we decided to adopt, we jumped in whole hog. We read the books, the blogs, the facebook support groups and listened to all the foster-to-adopt podcasts. We wanted to understand all of the realities of what we were getting into. In the back of our minds, we knew that was impossible until you lived it; But all the same, it was new information that we didn’t know before, so we pressed on, eagerly soaking it all in. By the time we had poured over all the resources we could get our hands on, we felt like we had a decent understanding of the life of a foster family. We were still clueless, but that’s a post for another day.
Like most people who decide to grow their family, we were excited! We couldn’t wait to tell everyone! So we did. The reactions we got were not at all what we expected. That’s just the honest truth. Most just simply responded with, “Why?” The first time I heard someone ask us that, I’m sure I visibly cocked my head to the side. Are you kidding? What do you mean “why adopt?” Isn’t adoption supposed to be a redemption story? Aren’t we giving our hearts and home to an already overwhelmed system full of children? It wasn’t a need to feel like someone was patting us on the back. We felt let down. We were disappointed. Garrett and I had no biological children yet and we didn’t feel like there had to be some sort of “proper order” when kids sat and waited for someone to care. I guess we expected everyone to celebrate with us. This was a major new chapter in our lives. How different would it have been if we had said, “Hello! We are pregnant!”
Everyone Had Something to Say
It certainly didn’t ease anyone’s mind that we felt specifically called to adopt a sibling group. I wasn’t in the least bit afraid of having a large family. Garrett was a little more cautious, but eventually my confidence wore off on him. We experienced skepticism from social workers to our closest family members, and even from complete strangers. It was a trial for sure. Have you ever tried to do something you know God has called you to when the whole world is telling you you can’t? Well, that’s what we were going to do. We were dead set on it.
I can only assume that most people don’t call a foster agency and start spilling that “No, we don’t have any children. Yes, we want to foster-adopt a sibling group. We have seen how many are waiting. No, we don’t want to start with just one. Sibling groups, yes. There is a sibling group in Arkansas we are interested in. How many? There are 7. Not kidding.” Okay, so I can see how anyone with half a brain might think that a newly married couple with no biological children of their own must be crazy to want to take on 7 kids…at once. That’s abnormal even among abnormal things. But God called us first. And like I said…we were in it whole hog.
The sibling group we were originally interested in were happily adopted! God provided a family for all of them together. They even made the news! You can read their story here.
The social workers were all skeptical, but that is their job. We understood how ridiculous it sounded to them. It was the other comments that turned our stomachs.
“I know someone that is doing that [foster care], and it’s a lot harder than you think. Maybe you should wait a while.”
“Don’t you want to have kids of your own first? Then you at least have some experience before you try to raise someone else’s damaged kids.”
“You sure about that? Those kids have burned people’s houses down. They’ve even tried to kill.”
“Can you not get pregnant or something?”
“Why would you want to raise someone else’s messed up kids? They are going to have all kinds of problems.”
“You don’t know how to be parents. If you have to do it, you should only get one….and get a baby. They probably aren’t as bad.”
“Oh, you’re going to foster? I was going to do that once but then I got pregnant.”
I added that last one because you wouldn’t believe how many times that one graced our ears.
Three years later, this is what I think it boils down to…why people ask why…
They Are Unable to Imagine Themselves Walking In Your Shoes
We were naive in expecting celebratory comments and immediate support. Looking back I think it scared everyone else to even think about it. This wasn’t the same as pregnancy and it never would be. Pregnancy began relationships at the very dawn of life. The kids we were interested in already had relationships that failed them. They came with “baggage”. The people who were the closest to us recognized that they might also be expected to be close to them too. That must have been frightening since it wasn’t them that chose to jump into that boat. I’m sure they were thinking of all of the risks and possibilities involved.
Everyone else, strangers and coworkers alike, were simply uninformed or curious. Sometimes it was something that had crossed their mind before and they had lots of questions about how we became involved or wrapped up in such an idea. Others may have been unaware of anything other than the horror stories that made it way to them from biased or unreliable sources. Either way, as harsh as some of those comments seemed at the time, most people didn’t mean any harm.
Give ’em Grace.
When those people were saying those things to us I was angry. I didn’t always respond, but in my heart I felt chastised and disappointed. I wanted to tell them how ignorant they sounded. I wanted to tell them they sounded arrogant. I wanted to ask them, “Why are you asking me why I am adopting, when I should be asking you why you’re not?”
Isn’t that a fine reflection of our relationship with the Father? How many times do we scream up at heaven, “You sure you know what you’re doing?” or even “How could you let that happen?!” or “You can’t expect me to do that!”
Unfortunately, our society has become more and more unwilling to accept blind acts of faith. The people around us have become accustomed to relying on something physically seen, touched or explained rather than resting in Jesus. Lack of faith has become risk management. But are we not all guilty of that? God gives us grace when we cannot comprehend what He is doing. He gives us grace when we refuse to obey and when we are angered by His answers. If we cannot give grace to others, how can we expect grace for ourselves?
Throughout our adoption journey, many have felt comfortable enough to ask us questions. Many learned that foster kids are still just.. kids. Some may have even been inspired to foster and/or adopt on their own! When given the opportunity to learn through others, things seem a little less scary to us all.
God bless you and keep you,