The first time my parents decided to adopt was on a beach. A friend was telling them about a little boy she works with that no one wants. Without missing a beat my mom said, “We’ll take him.” And they did.
Sure there were things to do, classes to take, visits and paperwork (so much paperwork). But the first step was what mattered most. They were willing. They were willing to open their heart wider and do more of what they do best: love.
My parents have adopted five kids over the last 12 years. And perhaps you should know, not all the adoptions have been easy. There were social work visits and court dates. Waiting for parental right termination and ensuring everything was ready. It took work and time.
Just like parenting.
My mom and dad are parents. That’s what they do. They parent. Instead of the two kids they had, they parent seven kids.
The five kids they adopted all have special needs. I could give you the list of diagnoses but it really doesn’t matter. Their needs mean more appointments, more accommodations, and more sleepless nights. But those things are no different than if you birth a baby with special needs.
You show up. You do the work. You parent.
When people see what they do on a daily basis they look at my parents like a living museum exhibit claiming they are amazing. In many ways they are. Adoption is not what made them amazing, good parenting and loving completely is what makes them amazing.
They will be the first to tell you they are not anything special, they are ordinary just like you and me. They just love big. They treat each of my brothers and sisters like me and my other brother who were born of my mother’s womb. They are not super heroes, they are just parents, walking through life, loving big and full on the easy days and the hard days. It sounds so simple, but we all know parenthood is anything but simple.
It’s easy to keep the idea of adoption on a pedestal, to think it is reserved for people with special skills. Adoption is special but it is not unreachable. It takes real, everyday people.
Someone to say “yes”
In my state alone there are 4,000 kids waiting to be adopted. Nationally there are over 400,000 kids in foster care with over 100,000 of those kids ready to be adopted. Every one of these kids need someone who will say yes.
November is National Adoption Awareness Month, with the Sunday before Thanksgiving providing a special day to highlight the importance of adoption. With approximately one in 50 kids in the United States being adopted and six in 10 people having a personal experience with adoption in their family or social circle it is clear that adoption is not just for a small group of people with a superhuman skill set. We need more than that.
Adoption is special. It is beautiful and hard and will require more of you than you know, but that’s parenting. We can recognize the beauty of adoption without making it seem unattainable for everyday people.
Maybe you don’t feel like adopting is part of your parenting journey. But it is part of our world. Sometimes we don’t know how to handle things that seem different from what we know, and admiring them from afar seems easier. We can learn how to help families connected to adoption, we can take away the stigmas of adoption in the way we interact and talk about it, and we can stop distancing ourselves from what seems different and remember that adoption is simply parenting.
Kids waiting to be adopted don’t need super heroes. They need people willing to say “yes.” People willing to open their heart and their home to love and parent well.
This month may we all think about how we can directly help the children waiting for someone to say “yes.”