I had never thought about adopting.
Growing up I just assumed I would have kids one day and never really thought about it in any intentional way. It was just something that would eventually happen as it does for “everyone.”
During the first few years of our marriage, Liza and I decided we were content without having children. While it felt a bit strange to come to that realization, at the same time it was a freeing decision. It was not an issue of infertility, we simply realized how much we enjoyed one another, we did not have deeply rooted desires to have children and we had lots of opportunities to serve as mentors for kids we already knew.
As Liza noted in her post yesterday, the idea of adoption gradually began to pop up in different places for each of us. One evening while watching Grey’s Anatomy, adoption was somehow mentioned, and Liza took that opportunity to share what she had been thinking. I felt relieved and scared as I had been having similar thoughts around adoption.
We really work at living with open hands so that when life presents an opportunity, we step forward into it to see what is there for us. I was not sure where this would lead us but knew we were in for a very different adventure.
Stepping into the prospect of adoption I was challenged to look back at those ideas I had growing up and evaluate some uncomfortable thoughts and emotions. I am one of three children and the only boy. And in all honesty, the idea that my family’s line would end with me if I did not have a biological child hung in the back of my mind. Maybe it was just a guy thing, maybe just an Andrew thing.
Pushing harder into this uncomfortable idea, I also realized that I believed somehow if I had a biological child, I would have more control over this little person to be. That there was somehow more of a chance that I would instantly connect with a biological child, and that the prospect of a good life ahead of him would be greater because he began directly from my genes. It felt wrong to think this way.
The turning point for me in this was being able to voice this to Liza and just know it was OK to process these thoughts with her. One of the things I so appreciate about my wife is her ability to get to the root of an idea and flush out the greater truth. When we had decided not to have children, part of our reasoning was that we had opportunities to mentor kids and to help shape their lives in positive ways.
Connecting this thought with the prospect of an adopted child, I realized that adoption was very much in alignment with my belief in the ability to positively impact the lives of others. Additionally, recognizing that as much as I wanted to think that my genetics would provide amazing things, there are no guarantees in life.
Ultimately, it was not about what interests an adopted child would have or how much they look like me but about the opportunity to help shape their character, to encourage the best in their personality and provide a loving and supportive home for them to grow in the most healthy way possible. It would not be my physical genes that I could pass along into eternity but parts of my character and perspective on life that would live on through them.
For any of you considering or in the process of adopting, I encourage you to look deep in yourself, to talk about all those thoughts and feelings that arise, no matter how difficult or uncomfortable they may seem. My hope is that you find greater clarity in your journey and increased closeness with your partner.