Deciding to Adopt

The following is Part 1 in a 2-Part article. For Part 2 go here.

Something I’m regularly asked as an adoptive parent is, 

“How did you decide to adopt?”

Some people are just curious, and others can’t fathom why a couple with three biological children would choose to raise and love a child (or four) not born to them.

The fact is of course that most of us have mulitple reasons for embarking on such a journey–and it’s not as simple as an in-the-middle-of-the-produce-aisle-of-the-grocery-store answer might afford.  Especially when your two-year-old is attempting to sneakily put assorted bags of candy into your cart while pulling your four-year-old’s hair.

Ultimately, making the decision to adopt is a multi-step discernment process, and one that usually involves a lot of back-and-forth and thinking through scenarios and ruling out others.  So I thought I’d share a little bit here about how the process played out for us, and maybe this way I can just refer people to my blog when my kids start going crazy in the store.

1.)  It’s not either/or.  When my husband and I first decided to adopt several years ago, we were not doing so in lieu of having another eventual biological child.  We remained open to life throughout the process, and I did in fact get pregnant four short months after my sons came home.  And there was much rejoicing.  (Have you met Kaitlyn?)  So yes, you can be open to more future biological children and also pursue an adoption, and you don’t have to have your entire family planned out to begin the paperwork.

2.)  It doesn’t have to be a lifelong dream.  People often wonder if we always knew we wanted to adopt.  And the answer is no, we did not.  In fact, I’d never remotely considered adoption until I was standing in the shower one day.  (I do some of  my best thinking in the shower.  Don’t judge.)  And the idea of international adoption literally popped into my head.  I know it was a God thing, because there was no logical reason for it.  And so after my shower I got dressed and made a beeline for the the computer, where I began reasearching the global orphan crisis.  And I was appalled by the vast number of adoptable orphans in need of a family.  I thought about my little girl napping down the hall and how she got to go to sleep with a full tummy and a mommy and daddy who loved her, while many children didn’t.  I looked at profiles of waiting children with medical needs and knew that at 23 years old I was wrecked–in a really good way.

3.)  It doesn’t have to be his/her idea too.  Eventually you and your spouse will need to be on the same page about adoption for it to work.  But initially, most likely, it will be just oneof you who comes up with the seemingly wild idea.  And that’s okay.  I am a firm believer in the idea that God works in marriages through our personal, sometimes initially-individual convictions.  He won’t necessarily give both of you the same passion and desire at first.  If you feel a call to adopt, and he/she doesn’t, you can respectfully share your heart and thoughts and see what happens.  But do your research first.  Have some figures in mind when, inevitably, they ask how much it costs.  Get a handle on the general process.  Most of all be loving and patient, because this is most likely all brand-new for them.  I was really nervous going to Kevin with my convictions and thoughts, mostly because I felt so strongly that we should do this and what if he said no?  But he didn’t.  He heard me out that afternoon, saw that this was something I cared deeply about, and God led him–not too long after–to the same convictions.

4.)  It doesn’t have to be all mapped out.  International adoption means rolling with the punches.  Be flexible and know that if God wants you to become the family of a child in need, it will happen, and it’s okay if you enter the process unsure of how it will turn out.  We began our last adoption with the intention of adopting two waiting children who’d been born with HIV.  But some horrible things (that were out of our control) happened in-country, rendering that impossible, which meant we were stuck finalizing a homestudy when we had no clue who we were adopting or what we were going to do.  We reached the place where we had to simply hold our hands open and tell God that we would finish up our homestudy and trust that He needed our family for children we didn’t yet know about.  And it turns out He did.  So while it’s good to have a general idea of what you’re going to do, remember that things don’t always go the way you imagine and, well, that’s okay.

5.)  It’s not everyone’s dream.  This one was embarrassingly hard for me to learn.  When you feel so strongly about something, it’s really hard not to question why everyone else isn’t doing it.  Especially when it’s a good thing to do.  But the fact remains that most of your family and friends won’t go on to follow in your footsteps and adopt a child.  Often, people will question your sanity or even tell you that you’re making a huge mistake.  And the best thing you can do is simply live the story God’s given you, and live it well, and be grateful that He chose you for it.

For Part 2 please go here.


Brianna Heldt writes from Denver, CO. She blogs regularly at Just Showing Up.

Subscribe to CE
(It's free)

Go to Catholic Exchange homepage

  • Leeah

    Thank you for this article. My husband and I have adopted two boys from the states. We have experienced many of the things you write about, especially people thinking we were crazy. We have two biological daughters and for me adoption was something planted in my heart when I was in high school but that I never thought about again until I was already a mother. Adoption in the states is very inexpensive and should be a consideration as well a international adoption for all who are interested in the process. I can tell you first hand that even though people think that children from the states come with a lot of baggage this is not true. My son’s do not have any special needs other then just needing to be in a family of there own and loved. We are the parent’s who had the special needs to find more children to love and grow our family. It is the BEST thing that we could have ever done for our family. You were so right in saying that it’s not everyone’s dream. I thought after we adopted that everyone should be adopting but that did not happen around me. It is something that parents should at least disguise in there marriage if they are being open to God’s call.

  • I love this.  Can’t wait for part two.  I’m pregnant with our 5th biological child but have to admit that international adoption sneaks into my heart and mind on a regular basis.  I’m still thinking and praying but mostly wondering if we’ll ever be able to make it a reality.  Or if I’ll ever be brave enough to suggest it to my husband!  Thank you for the encouragement 🙂