Before becoming a father, my wife had broached the topic of “if we can’t have a child we can always adopt.” At the time, defiant that nature would take its course, I never gave adoption a second thought. When my son was born, the biological course seemed to work just fine.
Yet, when we had decided to have a second child, nature wasn’t on our side and we were back to the conversation quickly — this time as a serious option.
My wife, an unrelenting sort of woman with a big heart, had already made up her mind and was ready to adopt as soon as we knew the news. Yet, I was reluctant. Knowing only two adopted people, my frame of reference was limited and naturally negative in the face of the unknown. I, rather than sticking with the negativity, decided to look into the matter more. If the results were still negative, then I’d have proof, could stick to my guns and tell my wife that I had done due diligence and that would be the end of it.
After meeting adoptive parents and talking with adopted kids (and even co-workers and friends who I didn’t know were adopted), I quickly filled in the gaps of my knowledge.
As with any business problem, and this was indeed serious business, I boiled down the situation, looked at the pros and cons, asked the tough questions and put myself on mental trial. My new statement of faith was a honed down view of adoption into two parts:
1) Fathering: The act of adopting a child is miniscule when compared to the equally minuscule process of biologically conceiving a child. Fathering isn’t just genetics, it’s the role fathers play after their children have begun their lives.
2) Adoption: A process of events that move a child and its new parents together. One process involves the legal act of making you that child’s parent. A second process involves the adoption of several alterations about who you are, a series of value questions that reframe your potential to adopt, your expectations, your goals and your definition as to what it means to father a child. And third, adopting an emotional bond with a child that will be yours for your lifetime.
In my case, my desire to be a parent again, and give my son a sibling, was greater than my urge to pass along my genetics to another being. Genetics are still important but as I surmised from the adopted families I spoke with — a great family makes a great person, biology only makes a baby.
While we couldn’t make a baby, we knew that we could create a great person through experience. People celebrate the biological aspect of life all the time but our experiences make us who we really are. So adoption doesn’t give a child life; adoption gives a child an opportunity to add to its experiences to be the best they can be.
I never wanted to adopt. But after adopting the most beautiful little girl in the world 16 months ago, I’m glad that I changed my mind and became a dad again.
November is National Adoption Month in the United States, a time when parents who want to expand their families, couples looking to turn their duo into a trio and single people looking to take on parenting, are given the chance to ponder adoption as a way to add a smiling little face to their lives. Adoption could help offer your best to a child who’d love to have you.