Fred and Esther (not real names) got married in a blissful wedding and were not blessed with children. One…two… three… four years went by without conception.
They kept the hope alive. They held onto their marriage vows. Five… six… seven… eight years down the road, they knew something was terribly wrong. At this point, they embarked on a rigorous search for the best fertility doctors in order to find a solution. They were soon started on fertility treatments. After several attempts, they still failed.
For the next two years, the painful admission that they will never have biological children settled in their hearts. Maybe it was time to try adoption.
The general breakdown of the family structure and the pressure for economic survival are some of the reasons that have left children abandoned without care.
God’s original design of relationships begins with a family. It starts with Him in the heavenly family of the Holy Trinity then to us, his earthly family beginning with Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. As the Bible teaches in Ephesians 1:5: “In love, he predestined us to be adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will…”
Fred and Esther, therefore, chose to adopt to give what they had received—love. Despite the cultural obsession to have genes transferred from parent to child, Fred and Esther believed they were transferring something more than genes--life.
Rather than ask “what will happen to us when we adopt?” they chose to ask “What will happen to this child if we do not adopt him?” Samuel, their son, was thus birthed from their heart not the womb. And they became parents.
Adoption is the legal transfer of all responsibilities and rights along with filiations of a child from their biological or legal parent or parents to another parent.
The benefits of adoption accrue to both parents and children. Adoption provides a safe and conducive environment for a child to be raised, which would otherwise not have been available, if they were not adopted.
The adoptee is provided with shelter, food, clothing, security, family and love and this helps their emotional growth and stability. The adoptive parents are likely to be a middle class family, who can financially afford to care for an extra soul. This is important for the child’s future and emotional security.
Adoption matures the adopted parent. Marriage comes with its own challenges. Add parenting to it and you have a complex mixture of sunshine and rain. Children come with their own peculiarities and each individual child is different from parents and other children.
This exerts a considerable pressure on parents to figure out how to raise, in appropriate terms, each child distinctively and meaningfully. Laura Christianson, in her book, The Adoption Decision, aptly states, “When you decide to build your family through adoption, your “parenthood landscape” changes and you begin to construct an entirely new mindset. You excavate long-held beliefs in the importance of blood lines and pour a new foundation, whose cement is love and commitment for a child with whom you have no genetic connection.”
Open adoption allows adoptees to know where they came from, their birth parents, their adoption story, and have relationships with their parents and family. This is vital in keeping in touch with their roots.
Adoption is not only for those who are childless. It is for anyone who has some space in their heart to help a child be all they were created to be, even those who are already parents but want to help another child.
If you cannot adopt, you can offer short term (weeks or months) or long term foster (up to when the child is 18 years) care to a child.
In this New Year, you may want to consider helping a disadvantaged child find fulfillment in life. That said, you must have the right motivations for adopting.
It is no way for a child to provide you company and take away our loneliness. No way for you to feel a super-parent and martyr just because you see yourself sacrifice to take care of another person, no way for your plan “B” or plan of last resort just because plan “A”--to have your own biological children—failed.
It is not a way to save your marriage by thinking a child will bring happiness to your bad marriage. No way for you to fill an empty space in your home because your children grew up and left, no way because your friends, family and this column say so. Adoption is hard work and selflessness. A good adoption counsellor should be able to guide you before you commit to this journey. Happy New Year!
Rev Michael Agaba is a theologian, marriage counsellor and parenting coach at AGLOW.