5 things NOT to say to a family who wanted to adopt a child, but didn’t

 

aimee 4 kids

So if you have followed my blog for any length of time, you may know that for years we have tried to adopt a child.  My husband and I have 3 healthy, wonderful, wild biological children, but I have always, always wanted to adopt.  It was 11 years ago when our middle kiddo was an infant that we first began to get information on adoption. Originally we considered adopting internationally, but as time went on, we decided we felt called to adopt domestically from the states.

A little over 4 years ago, when our baby girl was 3 and the boys 7 and 9, we signed with 2 adoption agencies in the US.  We were hoping for a baby girl.

After waiting 2 years and not being selected, we decided to try to adopt a toddler from the foster care system instead.  We did the classes.  We spent the time.  We spent the money.  We waited and waited.  We were asked to foster countless times, but we really felt we were called to being a permanent family for a child.  We did NOT feel called to foster (God bless those that do).  So we waited and waited and waited.

This past fall was 2 years of waiting to adopt a healthy girl, of any race, under the age of 7 from foster care.  We just did NOT have it in us to wait anymore.  After a total of 4 years of praying and believing God and involving our other 3 kids and fingerprinting and social worker visits and profile books and costs and tears and disappointments and close calls and closed doors and hours and hours of training…… my hubby and I were done.

It’s been 4 months since we decided not to renew our license.

And it still stings.

Since letting our foster/adoptive license lapse, we’ve gotten into our groove of just accepting that our family may stay the 5 of us forever.  But I don’ t know that it will ever FEEL RIGHT. Do you know what I mean? We were so sure God had called us to adopt.  Even though we have accepted where we are, it still doesn’t mean that we like it or that we understand it.

And well-meaning people do not understand it either.

Let me first start by saying that I have miscarried twice.  And people said silly things then too.  Sometimes they just DO NOT KNOW what to say and their heart reallllly is right, their words just come out wrong.  In an attempt to make us feel better, they think they need to say SOMETHING and it just doesn’t come out it a way that feels good to the receiver.  Do you know what I mean?

Well, trying so hard to adopt a child for 4 lonnnnnnnnnnnng years feels very similar.  It feels just as confusing and painful as my 2 miscarriages did.  And people say just as many awkward things.

Surely my husband and I are not the only ones who have tried to adopt and couldn’t/didn’t?  Perhaps you know another couple who are in the same boat?  In an attempt to protect the hearts of every other family out there like us who has tried to adopt, may I offer you a list of things just NOT to say to them?

  •  “Just be happy with the kids you have.”  If I had a dollar for every time someone has said this to me.  Of course we are happy with the kids we have.  We love kids which is why we wanted more.  Would you say that to someone who miscarried or couldn’t get pregnant again?  No.

 

  •    “Maybe you should just get pregnant again”. Ummmmmm, no.  That’s crazy talk right there.  First of all, at 43, I am just not up for it. I’m pretty sure I have old eggs.  lol.  And, we do not want a newborn, but a child closer to Ava’s age.   And we never wanted another biological child; we wanted to ADOPT.  We wanted to be a permanent family for a hurting child.  Getting pregnant totally misses the point.

 

  •     “Well obviously it wasn’t God’s plan for your family.”   This one makes me want to do some shin-kicking.  Every single.step.of.this.process…. we prayed.  We gave it to the Lord.  We asked Him what He wanted us to do.  We thought we were obedient.  We had confirmations.  We thought we heard Him.  We believed it would happen.  We prepared.  We planned.  To say we did all that and then for you to say it WASN’T God’s plan insinuates we heard wrong.  Or that we were not obedient.  Or that God told us one thing and then He did another.  None of that makes us feel better.  I’m not saying it isn’t an accurate statement, I’m just saying it stinnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnngs.  It’s adding insult to injury.  Just don’t.

 

  •      “Everything happens in God’s timing”.   hmmmmmmm, ya think?  Lol. Of course it does.  But again, it implies that we were wrong. Or not in the right place at the right time.  Or not ready.  Or not SOMETHING.  Talking about timing when we waited 4 years feels a little painful.

 

  •      “Maybe God was protecting your biological children”.  Maybe. Totally a possibility.  But maybe He would have done that BEFOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOORE we felt like He asked us to start the process 4 years ago.

 

Listen, I have no idea why we were never selected to adopt a child.  We gave it all we had and believed with all of our hearts that it would happen.

And I’m not mad at God.  Or mad at the well-meaning people who say silly things.  But may I suggest to you things that I wish you WOULD say to other people like my husband and I?  These are the things that I appreciate so much when I hear:

  •       1) I’m so sorry
  •       2) I am so proud of you for trying
  •       3) Do you want to talk about it?
  •       4) Maybe just give a hug instead of words
  •       5) or maybe just be present and don’t feel like you have to fill the awkward silence of a unrealized dream with saying “something”.

Cuz’ I don’t know why.  And you don’t know why.  We may never know why on this side of heaven.

And I think to try to rationalize it or quantify why God does what He does or to try to make sense of it all ends up minimizing Him to a level where we feel like it makes sense.   And it hurts us….. even though I KNOW that is not most people’s hearts.

So, if you have someone in your life who has tried to adopt and not been able to for whatever reason, I hope you will on occasion, check in on their hearts.  And I hope you will share this article with them. My heart is simply to educate you so that you can love on “them”. Because they may be hurting.  And they may need a kind word.

And if you have been in our shoes, I’d love to hear about it with a comment below! I think so often we feel like it is only “us”.  Everything feels lighter when you feel like other people get it.

Thank you for letting me share my heart,

xoxo,

jennifer

9 comments
  1. Karen Shatswell
    Karen Shatswell
    February 20, 2015 at 2:56 am

    Jennifer, thank you for always opening your heart and sharing such personal stories with us. I also had an unfortunate experience when I suffered a miscarriage and the day after some “friends” came to our housse with their newborn baby and asked me if I wanted to hold it. I shed many tears and I sure you have, too. Thank you for what you do!

  2. Cindi Warren
    Cindi Warren
    February 20, 2015 at 3:27 am

    As a foster child who was adopted at the age of four I have a different view. I’m sure you won’t like my thoughts and you are most welcome to deleat my post.
    I have to say how upsetting it is to me to hear people getting into the foster system just so the have a better chance of adopting. Believe me you’re not the only one. It needs to be a girl? Under the age of 7?What’s wrong with a boy in need of a loving family? He doesn’t fit into you ideal family? Children should not be a selection to pick from but a gift from God.
    I’m sure your heart was in the right place and that you and your husband are loving parents.
    I am surprised adoption agencies accepted your application based on your age. Most won’t accept people over 35. Also based on you have three children of your own. In order to place children with people without children.
    I don’t say this in anyway to be mean or uncaring but wanted you to hear how an adopted person may feel.
    I feel I was very blessed to have been adopted in 1964 when babies were a dime a dozen. I could have been in the foster system until I became an adult. Or like my husband who lived in an orphanage until he turned 18.
    You are a talented woman and have a gift of sharing and teaching.
    I wish you nothing but the best and may your heart heal with each passing day.
    God bless

  3. Kolein
    Kolein
    February 20, 2015 at 12:56 pm

    Gosh, this is heart wrenching. My husband was adopted many years ago when adoptions were hush hush and carefully handled as though they were a sin – the mother giving up her child was looked down on as well as the parents who couldn’t conceive. 🙁 (the shadow of that never left his parents, btw. They have both passed on. But I remember their shame) We have been trying to locate his birth mother for a long time. I have tears right now just bringing this up. I realize it’s not exactly the same heart break but I just wanted you to know that I feel for you and your husband and kids.

    It truly is a colossal disappointment on many levels. Perhaps there will be a load of comments here that will help heal your heart. Know that you’re loved by many here online. And while that love shows up in typeface it’s that special LOVE that reaches into our hearts. XO

  4. Julie Crozier
    Julie Crozier
    February 24, 2015 at 10:21 pm

    Wow, I just read your blog regarding adoption. I admire you Jennifer for sharing, and also for acting on what God has placed on your heart! I can relate in a way and yet my story is different: 9 years of infertility, and adoption. (I could give a good list of what NOT to say to me during those years!) Difficult years for sure, but my husband I have been extremely blessed. We did an open adoption, and our daughter turns 19 this week. We did not know the young birth mom (then just 15) but over the years we have become very close to her and her family. After our daughter turned three, more infertility, and with the help of invitro I gave birth to triplets (they are now 15). When the triplets were 6 months old, I became pregnant all on my own. I like to say that someone forgot to take our prayer out of the prayer request box.
    I’m not going to say anything cute, like hang in there, I can relate to wanting to punch people in the nose. I can say a big thank you, for writing this and walking with God through all of it. (And thank you for finding me on Pinterest – I look forward to following what you are up to!) Bless you and your family Jennifer!

  5. Kim
    Kim
    January 6, 2016 at 11:28 pm

    You are right. I was a foster parent for years (not foster/adopt) and the system wants people willing to foster first. They want people who are willing to give temporarily in hopes that the biological parents/family get their act together and can reunite. Then if they don’t, then those fostering are able to determine whether that child IS the right fit for their family….based upon time spent with them….not determined by their age and gender. When specifics like that get involved, child services wrote them off immediately. Sad, but true.

  6. gabriela
    gabriela
    February 24, 2016 at 4:19 am

    hello Jennifer, I read your adoption story and miscarriages. I thought about adoption before having my biological kids, and after having two miscarriages. I would like to share my story with you perhaps. Do you have any email where I can contact you. Thank you!.

  7. Janett
    Janett
    March 17, 2016 at 7:16 pm

    very interesting and powerful perspective. This system is flawed and damaged. How sad that such a beautiful family didn’t get the opportunity to love on a child that needed loving all because there were parameters. So because they preferred a girl under the age of 7 they were denied? Children need loving-end of story. Allow those willing to put in the work and, more importantly, open their hearts to children in need. This world would be a better place! Their heart was in the right place and as Jennifer said, they prayed, they listened, they were obedient.
    Thank you for sharing your perspective. There are always 2 sides to every experience. May we learn from it and grow from it.

  8. Lorinda
    Lorinda
    August 15, 2016 at 5:29 pm

    Hi Jennifer, thank you for your transparency. We, too, pursued adoption through our state’s foster system. And, we too asked for a girl under age 7 to be close in age to our biological daughter. And, we had the same experience that there were no girls in that age range available and the wait list had no timetable. So, we were asked to consider a boy, aged 9. Oh my, not what we were expecting, and certainly an eye-opener for our daughter. 10 years later, I can say this one adoption experience has been the single greatest life lesson (lots of assignments in the lesson!), not only for us as parents but also for our daughter. As you said, none of us fully understand the why behind anything that happens this side of heaven. Thank you for your willingness to be open to God’s direction. I consider myself blessed to have found you online. As many ladies would agree, I would love to just hang out with you. With all of the negativity in the world, you are a breath of fresh air. Let me know if you’d like to hang and do coffee! 🙂

  9. Michelle Lutach
    Michelle Lutach
    August 7, 2017 at 2:17 pm

    NEED A BABY ADOPTION? Hello contact ([email protected]) if you are interested in any child adoption, my husband and I adopted from here privately, but you must be financially ready for a baby adoption if you seriously need a registered baby adoption agency like H2H to help you. God bless.

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