Five things I wish you wouldn’t assume about my daughter’s adoption…

Guest Post by Kara Foster

1. That I am filled with pride every time you tell me that my daughter looks like my husband or me.

When we sat down with our adoption agency, we checked the box that said we were open to a child of any ethnic background.  It was not a decision we made without much thought and consideration. I read all kinds of information on being an interracial family and parenting a child of a different ethnic background.  I bought an “adoption rocks” t-shirt for our one day child and imagined our family being a walking billboard for adoption.

Then, Annie was born. She is all blue eyes and fair skin.

Nobody ever assumes she was adopted.  When we tell people that she is adopted the response that we typically hear is, “But, she looks JUST like you!” It’s not that I hate the comparison….Did I mention that she is beautiful?  It’s just that her blue eyes and my husband’s blue eyes have nothing to do with our love for her.  She could be purple with pink stripes and we’d still be crazy in love.  I also know that one day very soon Annie will have to handle comments like those on her own. I don’t want her to ever think that “looking like us” is a part of what makes us a proud family.  It’s love.

2.) That my daughter’s birthmother was a teenager/druggie/unloving…

People have commented, “I just don’t know how someone could give up her child…” The assumption being that a birthmother is clearly cold and unloving. Birthmother’s come to the decision to adopt for many different and difficult reasons, none of which has anything to do with not loving their child.

I was literally in the room. I have witnessed with my own eyes the pain, the heartache, and strength it took to bring Annie into the world.  I also witnessed the pain, heartache, and strength it took choose another family for her. It is the most selfless kind of love that I have ever witnessed. So, please, don’t ever judge her, think negatively of her, or assume you know anything about a birthmother’s choice.  All I know is that I am going to spend the rest of my life trying to love my daughter as selflessly as the woman who first loved her into life.

3.) That it was crazy expensive…

Adoption laws vary by state and adoption agencies come in many shapes and sizes.  There are for profit agencies and not for profit agencies.  Adoption can be crazy expensive.  It can also be  relatively affordable (especially if you adopt through the foster system.)  There is also a wonderful federal tax credit for families who adopt.

 4.) That we love our kids any differently than a biological child.

I’ll be the first to admit that I worried about this possibility.  I don’t have adoption in my family. I knew there was a possibility that a biological child could be in our future.  I worried if I would love them differently.  Before we had any children I honestly worried that our biological child would be more “awesome” than a adopted child.  Looking back, those fears are funny to me now.  It’s just not how falling in love with a child works.

On the day we finalized Annie’s adoption.  We gathered at the Courthouse and waited with three other adoptive families.  One family was adopting a baby girl who was medically fragile.  Another was a teenage girl about fifteen years old and another was a boy around eight.  There we all were.  All of us with our cameras and so full of love  that it’s a wonder the courthouse didn’t  lift off the ground.  I remember the little boy asking his momma why she was crying and she said, “I’m just so happy.”  Maybe it’s just one of those things that you have to experience to truly believe, but I am forever grateful for the experience.

5.) When it comes to adoption — just, please, don’t assume.

Not every couple who chooses to adopt does so because they are infertile.  Not every family who has a biological child after they adopted is totally surprised by this news (like us).  Some couples wait years to adopt, while others get that fateful call right away. Some have strong reasons for wanting to adopt internationally, while others are just as committed to adopting domestically.  There are birthparents who are still a part of children’s lives and birthparents who are not.  Every adoption story is unique.  That’s the beauty of it! If you really want to know more about a family’s adoption story, just ask them.  Chances are, they’d be thrilled to tell you…

One more thing:

I lost my mom to cancer in 2004.  We named our daughter after her and one day I’ll tell Annie that I named her after the strongest woman I have ever known.  My mom had this thing she liked to say to me. She’d whisper it in my ear as she was putting me to sleep.  She’d write it in cards or slip it in notes in my lunch box.  She’d say, “Of all the little girls in all the world, God gave you to me.”  Now when I hold Annie close I whisper those same words in her ear aware of the gift she is to me.

I imagine that’s how most of us feel about our children. No matter how they came to be — they are gifts. So, Annie, just in case you read this one day, “Of all the little girls in all the world, God gave you to me.”

Kara K. Foster is a wife to Mark. A Momma to Annie and a new arrival coming soon.  She has been the Pastor of  First Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in Rockwood, TN since January 2007. They are a Church who laughs readily and has the best covered dish luncheons around! She considers herself to be a proud Kentucky Wildcat fan serving as a missionary in Tennessee Orange Country.  And she’s blessed to call, Erin Wathen, friend.

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  • Linda McKiernan-Allen

    thanks for the reminder of so many things we faced as parents of adopted and “bio” children. What an amazing and astounding gift it was to become a parent…every time, whether our child emerged from my womb or was placed in my arms in the case workers room.

  • Rebecca

    I am a birth mother. This article touched me deeply. Thank you for writing it. i love my birth son very much and it is because of that love that I entrusted him to another family to raise. It was the hardest most painful thing I have ever done and the loss and the grief are overwhelming at times. It was also the best decision I could have made for him. Thank you so much, I needed to read this today.

    • Gloria Lehmann McCartney

      Rebecca, although I am not your son’s adoptive mother, may I speak for her? Thank you. Thank you for being healthy, for doing everything you could to love and take care of the baby you were carrying. Thank you for making the HARDEST, and most UNSELFISH decision any woman could every make. Because of you, I am blessed to be called Mom.

    • hopegrows

      Rebecca, I’m an adoptive mom. I’m so very thankful for moms like you who are willing to make the most self-sacrificing decision possible to ensure their child has the brightest future. You put your child before yourself and that is what a mother does. Saying a prayer for you for peace today.

  • Rev. Linda Hunsaker

    Erin — Great Article — I am a Disciple pastor and have both an adopted and biological daughters — they give me the best joy! We have had over 9 fosters in our family in addition to our two — the funniest and hardiest thing I hear is — “I don’t if I could ever be a foster parent — it would be too hard to give them up” Well duh! it is hard for us — but we also know we are doing an amazing thing for someone. Keeping writing and blessings in your ministry. I am pastor of two churches in Davenport, IA!

  • mhelbert

    I was adopted. In 1955 abortion was not legal, so I was born. My birthmother was mentally challenged. She was ‘taken advantage of,’ (re. raped), by a much older man. And, voila! Me! I was welcomed into my adoptive parents’ home. They never concealed the fact that I was adopted. I appreciate them for that. Yeah, my parents were told time after time that I looked like them. But, shoot…we all look alike. ;o) I had the opportunity in my 30’s to meet my birthmother. I did not seek it. It turns out that I have a sister. She sought me out. I’m grateful to her for that! Anyway, adopted children in loving homes will always love their adopted parents. I did mine. I recently gave the eulogy at my Dad’s funeral. The love I had for that man was boundless. However, there was always a missing piece. That connection between me and the woman that bore me that, even though I met her, was never quite in place. Please know that your adopted children will love and adore you. But, they will also have a hole that you cannot fill. They may require counseling or some other support. Don’t think that is a reflection on you as a loving parent! It’s just reality. I cannot thank my adopted parents enough for the love and sacrifice they poured out. I thank you all, too, for being willing to take on the responsibility and care for those of us who simply need you.

    • hopegrows

      I’m so glad you were able to meet your birthmother! Our daughter’s adoption is open so she is able to see her birthmom and we hope that her birthfather will be ready to be part of her life at some point as well. We have worked hard to embrace an extended idea of family through adoption. Sometimes that is hard on me as a mom, but I know it is the healthiest way for my daughter.

  • Michael Hyde

    Great article. Both of our kids are adopted, so we’ve heard most of the comments. One of the comments/questions I’ve heard (more than once) is, “Do you have an ‘natural’ children?” Nope, no natural children. Just these, with artificial flavors and colors! I know that the meant bio kids.

    When we announced our first adoption, it was amazing how many people we know shared that they too were adopted. We’ve talked about the issue openly with our kids, and they know that their birth moms loved them so much that they wanted to make sure they were raised in Christian homes.

    Thanks again for such a great article!

  • Pamela Essex

    This could’ve been written by me. I’ve had so many of the same concerns. The questions we get…

    Our son is 7.5 months old and looks so much like me & my side of the family. It’s actually amazing. We’re constantly told this by everyone, which doesn’t bother me so much because he’s so darn cute I feel lucky people think so highly of my looks haha! But, that’s not what makes him part of our family. We, too were open to any race child and our love would’ve been the same no matter what he looked like.

    We’re now expecting a biological child (due in about 8 weeks). After 16 years of being together God granted our wish of being parents all in a matter of months. Our boys will be 9 months apart. I worry that they will be treated differently and one is “better” then the other. To us, they are just our children. How they joined our family makes no difference to us.

    Thanks for writing this!

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  • melissia

    It’s strange how people assume that because one is adopted one isn’t loved enough, or doesn’t love back. I love my adoptive family dearly, and my mom and dad have been such wonderful parents for me.

  • Chris Laning

    My brother and I are my parents’ birth children and my two sisters are adopted. My mother spent four decades of her life assisting families who wanted to adopt. Woe be to that person who ever said the words “your real children” in her hearing! “Who gets up in the middle of the night when they’re sick to their stomachs? Those are their REAL parents!” was her inevitable reply.

  • Dixie_Amazon

    Assumptions are danger ridden things sometimes. No one ever thought I was adopted since I was tall like both of my parents and had gray eyes like my dad. A family near has had twins the many thought were adopted since they had flaming red hair like one of their great grandparents.