Friday, June 20, 2014

Adoption Through the Eyes of Adoptive Dads - Part II

"As we walked up to the car in Haiti their little arms were stretched out the window yelling Poppa Betsy! Poppa Betsy! They jumped in my arms when we opened the door. At that very moment any doubt or fear was completely removed in my heart and mind and they were my children. Call it what you want but I believe that God has a plan in all our lives and he can and will work out all the concerns." - Heath
We're continuing our conversation with adoptive Dads.
(To catch up on Part I, click here.)


Caleb F: Emma (passed away at birth), Liam (11 - bio), Aidan (9 - bio), Lucy Kate (1 - domestic adoption)  

Barry: JK (16 - bio), RK (13 - bio), KK (3 - adopted from foster care)

Shawn: Brennan (15 - bio), Aidan (14 - bio), Evan (12 - bio), Chasity (12 - adopted domestically at age 7) 

Heath: Videline 12 (adopted from Haiti at 8), Barbara 11 (adopted from Haiti at 7), Daphka 10 (came from Haiti as a medical needs child at 5, adopted at 9), Drake 2 (born in Haiti and in their care at 2 days old, adopted at 18 months)

Cory: Calvin (9 - adopted from South Korea at 5 months), Ruby (7 - adopted domestically at birth), Silas (5 - adopted from South Korea at 18 months), Robert ("adopted" at 18)

Barrett: Howie (9 - adopted from Ethiopia), Lena (3 - adopted from Ethiopia), Marion (11 months, bio)

Caleb B: Brody (6 - bio), Foster (4 - bio), Story (2 - bio), Baby A (11 months, open domestic adoption - not quite finalized)
A lot of women share that their husbands struggle to believe they could love a child who isn’t biologically theirs. Do you have anything to add to this?
"No as soon as KK came into our home she had me." - Barry
"I actually had concerns with my biological children that I would love them the way that I should…And that sense of belonging was not changed in the least if the child was the result of conception or adoption. Lucy Kate was mine the instant the nurse placed her in my arms." - Caleb F
"For me, it is not an issue of loving, I believe love is a choice, but rather an issue of history and shared experience." - Shawn
"I would admit that this is something that I thought about when we decided to adopt the first time…from the moment I met them they were ours in my heart." - Heath
"We adopted Lena when she was 7 months old, and I actually attached more quickly to her than our biological child.  I was so much more involved, and experienced the 'she needs me' feelings that a biological mother experiences. I was feeding her all the time, waking up at night with her as often as my wife, and that experience caused a strong and quick bond.  With our biological daughter, I was less involved so the attachment was a bit slower.  I heard Pastor Tim Keller once remark that as you serve people, you love them…With that said, my experience was the same – my love for my children was more determined by how active I was in serving and caring for them than whether they were biological or adopted." - Barrett
“… once that baby or child is in your family, for me, there was no struggle whatsoever. Once we heard about our son, before we had even seen him, we already loved him like our own. - Caleb B

For those of you who have both biological and adopted kids, how is parenting your adopted child/children different?
"I have four kids, one is adopted but I forget which one." - Caleb B
"What I have been careful of is thinking through how could my adoptive daughters’ first part of life without parents affected their development.  Laying on a crib for 7 months and feeding yourself as soon as you could hold a bottle is a world away from a baby with two parents holding them and fawning over them every day.  I enjoyed working hard at this thought process, wanting to protect my daughters from any lack of my knowledge in adoptive parenting, as well as wanting to work to heal any past wounds." - Barrett
"One thing that we purposely did differently was to spend a significant amount of bonding with her when she was newly born. A lot of time was spent just holding her and loving on her." - Caleb F
"Just as each of our boys are different and need to be parented differently, so it was with Chasity.  Due to neglect, Chasity’s developmental age was far less than her physical age.  Though she was the same age as our youngest, her developmental age was dissimilar." - Shawn
"I have to treat KK differently not because she is adopted but because of her personality." - Barry

What aspects of adoption were you most unprepared for?

"The difficulty of a foreign adoption and the process. The difficulty of overcoming all the hurt and fear instilled in our children prior to coming to us, and gaining that love and trust, which I believe is a lifetime mission, not something that happens on a very short term. Things have and do get progressively better but the scars and damage physiologically are there and always will be. As a parent to children that have dealt with things in their life beyond their control it is our life mission to hold them up and help them overcome." - Heath
"I was most unprepared for the anger our youngest son felt toward us after we brought him home and how long it would take to built trust." - Cory
"Initially, I wasn't prepared or educated on open adoption. We were blessed to have learned so much through our case worker, friends who have adopted, and our agency that really educated us on open adoption before moving forward with our own adoption. In the two years that passed before we brought our son home, we really felt we learned so much and that the Lord prepared our hearts for openness in adoption." - Caleb B
"I think I was unprepared for the way that other people reacted to our decision to adopt. Some people thought that we were crazy, and way too many others called us “saints”. For us it was just a way to add to our family." - Caleb F
"I was not prepared for my eldest daughter immediately taking far more strongly to my wife than myself in the beginning." - Barrett
"I was unprepared for the transition that our bio-kids had to go through…By year #4 the boys had come around to the idea and began treating her like a sister, as best as they knew how." - Shawn
"The question the judged asked me at the hearing: Mr. K what do you think about this little girl? Wow I started to get teary eyed up and said she is my little girl." - Barry

What aspects of adoption surprised you most?

"I was arrogant in my thinking of adopting.  I believed that bringing a little person into our house, giving structure and love would show immediate progress and improvement of thinking, character and personality.  I was severely incorrect!  The surprise was for me." - Shawn
"The cost is surprising. The barriers to entry in the form of paperwork, costs, scheduling, etc. can be daunting." - Caleb F
"The hurt, fear, and difficulty trusting these children have at such a young age." - Heath
"You read about ways that adopted children deal with their adoptions and try to prepare yourself the best you can.  But there is so much more to their emotions than what you can comprehend before you experience it. The only way to prepare for it is to go through it." - Cory
"I was also surprised how adoption deepened my faith in God and added a perspective that was lacking prior to adoption. Adoptive parents have a unique advantage in understanding what it means to be adopted into the family of God." - Cory 
"I think what's surprising to me most about adoption is outsider's point of view on it. Their reaction to us wanting to add to our family through adoption, even though we could have biological children, was often times surprising to me." - Caleb B
"How ferociously I do love all three of my girls." - Barrett
What has adoption taught you/how have you grown as a human or as a Dad?

"That love is a supernatural gift.  People fall in and out of love all the time, but I don’t think that emotional interpretation of love was the original design.  I’ve learned about love being an action word… “laying down our lives…”, an emotion preceded by a commitment." - Barrett 
"Wow, I have never had to deal with a strong willed, full speed little girl. Learning how to deal with her as made me grow more and look for different ways to handle situations." - Barry
"I think one thing that this has taught me is how infinite love is. When we chose to adopt we already had two children that I loved fiercely. The first time I held Lucy Kate I felt the same way. My love for the boys did not diminish because of this new child; it grew one more multiple of infinity." - Caleb F
"I've grown as a Dad because I've had to make room for biological dads and foster dads in the lives of my kids. I've learned to embrace the other dad's who have made it possible for me to have my children even though I will never meet them. My love can't be threatened by my kid's love for their dad's they will never meet, nor does it diminish my love in their eyes." - Cory 
"The love I feel for my children isn't because they came from my wife and I. It's a choice to love them, just like I choose to love our adopted son. Our son's adoption has taught me more about love; Christ's love, and the love I have for my family, and others." - Caleb B
"It is a choice by those who adopt to love unconditionally and firmly, guide with wisdom and grace and parent as if they are their own flesh." - Shawn
"Adoption has taught me that this life is not about ME. There is so much more in this life that is much more important than self and our cushy lives." - Heath
 I want to thank all these awesome dads for sharing their hearts with us. I know each of their answers was meant for someone specific and it's an honor that they allowed me to share their stories.