In 2008 my wife and I adopted a shy, little 10 month old boy from Guatemala. He is now a five-year-old untamable ball of energy.  Since that time, one of the things we are continually encouraged by is hearing of more and more people who are adopting, whether it be movies stars or normal people. In fact, my brother and his wife (not movie stars) are in the midst of adopting a little girl from Ethiopia. We couldn’t be more excited!

That being said, as adoption has grown more and more popular, I’ve also noticed an uprise in talk about the romantic side of adoption. Frankly, it seems as if adoption is the cool thing to do if you are a hip and progressive. Now, don’t get me wrong I don’t think that everyone who adopts now does it to be hip – I imagine even some movie stars do it out of good motives.

Of course, there is a romantic aspect of adoption. There is nothing that compares to the moment when, after years of waiting and mountains of paper work, you are handed the child you’ve only seen pictures of for the last 10 months. It’s labor and delivery in its own unique way. I could go on and on about all the amazing, romantic sides of adoption. But in the midst of all this – sometimes I think we forget that it’s not all perfect and is, at times, extremely difficult.

We have four kids (all boys by the way). Three of them are biological and one is adopted. Frankly, it’s difficult when you have a child that just doesn’t fit like the rest of your kids do. Our adopted son has a lot going against him. He was ten months when he was taken from his home and his family and given to strange looking white couple that spoke a completely different language (He was with a foster mom and foster family those first 10 months). To those of you who have children: can you imagine giving up your 10 month old child? At that point, there is quite a bond, no? How does a little 10-month old mind process the reality that he’s just been taken from the only people that have ever loved him. It’s clear to us by now that Mason struggles with this reality. No, he can’t explain it nor can he even recognize it as such. But there is no doubt that he struggles with abandonment issues. His identity is likely all out of whack. He’ll probably battle this for the rest of his life.

He is a bundle of energy that at his best keeps our house alive with excitement, singing, joy and laughter. But at his worst, he cracks and doesn’t know how to control his emotions and just totally loses it.

Now, when our other kids go crazy, we can pretty much say “yep, that’a a little version of your father” or “you definitely got that from your mother” and we can figure out easier how to handle them – because, well, it’s like handling the child version of us.  With Mason, we have no framework. We don’t know his biological parents, his biological brothers and sisters. We don’t know their personalities. Their strengths, their weaknesses, their habits. With this, we’re flying blind.

The point is this: Mason has a lot stacked against him. He’s an adopted, second born, middle-ish, Guatemalan born, darker skinned child in a white family and his personality is totally different than his brothers.

But it all of this, he’s our son.

Now, it’s not always hard. Like I said before, he’s one of the most entertaining, creative kids I’ve ever met. He’s spunky. He makes us laugh. He’s one of the most generous five-year olds I’ve ever seen (he probably gave away more than half of his Halloween candy to his brothers and friends).

But the truth is, having him as part of our family makes our life together more challenging. There is just no way around that. Perhaps that sounds awful. But it’s reality. In all of this, there is one belief that my wife an I have to keep telling ourselves:

We did not adopt Mason to make our lives easier or to make ourselves happy. 

I cannot bold, italicize this enough. This is a truth that we cannot ever forget. (By the way, this is a truth that any parent – adoptive or not – not matter how challenging the child is, cannot ever forget.)

The adoption of Mason was not about us. It was about him and our belief that God cares for those who are orphaned. It was about giving a child a better chance at a healthy, whole life. It was about opening our home and family to love a beautiful child who was made in the image of God and is worth more than we could ever imagine. It was about welcoming him into our family.

  • http://www.dorieannmorgan.com Dorie Morgan

    Like I’ve mentioned before, when Mason is old enough to want to talk about being adopted, I am always available. It is so challenging to navigate a family without that genetic connection and I’m still learning about what that means as an adult. I even wonder what my adoption will mean for my son – my ability to deal with abandonment issues will surely impact his life.

    With all that being said, adoption was the greatest gift my dad could have ever given me and I still hope that my husband and I will be able to give that gift to another child.

  • amy

    great thoughts todd. we have experienced so much of the same with our 7 yr. old from guatemala. He did not become a part of our family until he was 11 mos. old, and was with his birth mom until 6 mos, and then with foster mom from then until us. That, mixed with other pieces of his story has resulted in a lot of grief– a necessary process that is painful to watch. We were well prepared by others in knowing what to expect, but it is definitely an on-going process that creeps up when we least expect it. FYI– a lot of kids “processing” grief, fear, and confusion at this age manifests in behavior and sleep.

  • http://www.blackcoffeereflections.com Tim

    Excellent post – we can relate a little too.

    Regarding Mason, it’s ironic in some sense though. He was the child that I thought most about because we had just started going to the Well when you started the process and be there for his arrival. Of all your kids, he’s the one I think of most (but I swear I love them all :)

  • Laura

    Thanks for sharing such a private part of your life. Mason is a sweetie. May you continue to love and accept the challenges that come with adopting a child and find resources if necessary to help you navigate the storms.