CPS placed our son with us as a foster-only child at the age of eight-months-old. He lived with us for 15 months as a foster child. Then one year ago on September 21 we adopted him.
We had almost 25 years of marriage by the time our son came into our lives. Been through infertility, separation, career transitions, and culture shock. We have seen and experienced a lot. We know each other better than most, both good and bad.
However, I can’t think of many things more challenging than the past 2 1/2 years.
As I reflect about this past year since we adopted our son, I see a clear distinction between the 15 months he was our foster son and the 12 months after we adopted him. The shift is mainly in me, but I know it affects him.
Walking into the same courtroom I sat in multiple times as a foster parent but now as an adoptive dad was surreal. Several friends and members of our family joined us on this day of celebration.
Our son turned two a few weeks after the official adoption, so we combined his birthday with adoption parties. Good thing he enjoys parties. Over 100 people attended the celebration in Austin and about 40 were at the one in Conroe. He is one loved little boy!
Why is it that we put so much energy into days of celebration, but not as much into what it takes to make the everyday challenges a success? After the excitement, reality sinks in.
After September 21, 2012 a definite shift happened. Now that he was our adopted son, we no longer kept daily records of activities, doctor appointments, and medications dispensed.
No more visits from caseworkers. No more parent or biological family visits.
I remember lying in bed after the adoption was official and thinking that now he was our responsibility. I did the math again in regards to our age difference. When he graduates from high school, I will be 68. When he finishes college, I probably will be 72-73. And so on.
The urgency of raising him to be a godly young man is very clear to me. I know how I interact with him now even at this young age will have a bearing on who he is when he is 15, 20 and 25 years old.
Danielle and I also were learning how to parent a toddler. People asked whether his behavior was because he was a two-year-old or because of the trauma he experienced as a young child. Probably was both, but the combination made it more intense.
We have another person voicing their opinion…
Danielle and I are both opinionated and vocal at times about it. Now, we have a third little person who has a strong opinion and does not mind letting us know. And, he is very verbal with lots of words.
I am not used to a two-year-old telling me what I should do, or flat-out telling me, “No! I am NOT going to do that!”
He is all boy and wants to get into the middle of everything. He loves to explore, learn, and “help.”
Are you my mommy? Are you my daddy?
I told a friend that our son asks that a lot. My friend has three older children. He couldn’t remember any of his kids asking that question.
That is just one example of how our little guy processes things a little different from a biological child from a nurturing family environment. Especially over the last six months, we learned that he is finding out what it means to have his own mommy and daddy who will take of his needs more so than anyone else.
He is a very social boy, but it still intrigues me how he hugs just about anyone sitting still. I am sensitive to the fact that he is still developing a healthy attachment to us.
Need for a healthy marriage
While our son was a foster only child, Danielle and I focused (probably too much) on his needs. Since we did not know how long he would be with us, we kept postponing our own needs to connect. A few weeks turned into 15 months that now is forever.
By the time we adopted our son, we looked up and recognized that we were in need of some repair. Ugh.
So this first year of being adoptive parents has also been a year of re-connecting. We made it a priority to go on dates at least a couple of times of months. We had two overnight stays away from our son and have a third one coming up soon for two nights.
That is a start back into the right direction, but we need to continue making this a priority. As I have heard experts like Karyn Purvis with Empowered to Connect say, “You can’t give your kids what you don’t have.” (my paraphrase)
So there you go…
A glimpse into what our first year of adoption was like. Our hearts are full of gratefulness for all our friends, family, and new acquaintances who have supported us before and after our adoption.
If you want to read an authentic, vulnerable account of our journey into foster care and adoption, order my book, Adopting the Father’s Heart.
If you order from my bookstore, you can get a signed hardcover or softcover copy.
I would love to hear about your journey if you have adopted a child. Leave a comment below. Also, if you have a question about our first year, please ask.