I gave a copy of my book, Adopting the Father’s Heart, to a friend of mine I play pickup basketball with. As he sat looking at the book he mentioned that he and his wife still discuss fostering and/or adopting.
He admitted that he wasn’t quite ready to make that commitment, but his wife thought they needed to move forward. He expressed that maybe they should go ahead and look into it even though he thought the timing was not right.
A child coming into your family from a hard place needs for you to have as pure motives as possible. I encouraged him to be just as committed to it as his wife, not because of his wife.
Here is a good (short) video from Michael Monroe with Empowered to Connect—Motivations Can Speak Louder than Words
Leslie Leyland Fields’ book Parenting Is Your Highest Calling: And Eight Other Myths That Trap Us in Worry and Guilt lists several parenting myths that set us up for failure. Myth 1 is Having Children Makes You Happy and Fulfilled
Well, yeah, don’t they? Not necessarily. And if that is your motivation for having a child, what happens when they don’t make you happy and fulfilled?
Deciding to adopt or foster deserves the same scrutiny. On one side of the coin, many say that they are not cut out to adopt or foster.
However others are motivated to adopt or foster children. Careful—Expectations can flow out of your motivations.
Here are nine possibly misguided motive for adopting or fostering:
Orphaned or at-risk children need rescuing.
This motivation easily feeds the expectation that a “rescued” child will feel appreciative. What happens when that child doesn’t act appreciative? How then will we respond to that child?
We have an extra bedroom.
True, many Americans have more room than they need. But guilt over having more than you need is not a good enough motivation either to adopt a child.
We are empty-nesters.
I think it is a great idea to figure out what to do next in life after the kids leave home. Not sure that this reason by itself is enough to adopt or foster.
Our biological children want us to do it.
Your biological children do need to be in support of your decision to adopt or foster. However you will be the one responsible for the adopted or foster children.
Our church is telling us we should do it.
If your motivation is out of any sense of obligation, eventually resentment will set in. Especially when the going gets tough. And believe me, it will get tough.
We want to add another child to our family.
You might have a conversation with your spouse that sounds like this, “I want more children, but why should we have another one of our own when so many children don’t have a family.”
I am not knocking this motivation at all, but again if this is your driving motivation, you very well might overlook some of the cost of adopting or fostering will have on your family.
We don’t have children and we want to fit in.
My wife and I struggled with infertility. I understand this motivation. Be careful for what you ask for. Odds are you still won’t fit in. Your child from a hard place most likely won’t act like your friend’s kids. Wanting to fit in will make it hard on you when your child is labeled because of their acting out.
We want to be happy.
As Fields writes in her book, Parenting Is Your Highest Calling: And Eight Other Myths That Trap Us in Worry and Guilt, deriving happiness and fulfillment from raising a child is a myth. Sure there are moments of happiness and joy. However, every parent knows that there are just as many, if not more, heartaches and disappointments.
God called us to adopt.
In a vacuum this sounds noble and right. However, it fails to consider the whole picture. In order for a child to be adopted, a family had to be disrupted. No matter how right adoption is, I believe that God’s preference is for healing in the original family.
So am I advocating that we don’t adopt or foster? Of course not!
God definitely advocates caring for orphans, even mandates it.
We had/have many of the motivations listed above.
What I am urging is that we evaluate and be honest about our motives. Understand that expectations needlessly get placed on these children because of our motivations.
They need and deserve a loving commitment to what is best for them, not us.