Why You Should Not Adopt

Yes. That’s the real title of this post: Why You Should Not Adopt

Now, obviously, the only thing I can really mean, is Why I Should Not Adopt because I have no clue what you should do.

However, the fact that I have no clue what you should do

does not- in any way- hinder my willingness to tell you

what you should do.

Why I feel the least bit qualified to tell you about this topic is because I personally experienced THREE failed adoptions, was a foster parent to a total of four children, and am a biological parent and step parent. Professionally, I have worked with hundreds of foster youth providing supportive services.

I know there are stories where it works out beautifully. And you can find those with simple search techniques. I actually know someone who had EIGHT failed IVFs and wanted to adopt, passed the class and paperwork, two weeks later got a brand new healthy baby and then got pregnant without any fertility help. That is not an urban legend. I MET HER. I have no idea why that was her story and why mine is mine.

So what I have to say to all the joy, fulfillment and beauty of adoption:

Adoption and Foster Parenting  doesn’t always work out to a happy ending.

And that brings us to Number One.

#1  Do not adopt with the ASSUMPTION of a happy ending. It is not to say there are not happy endings. But do not ASSUME.  Or, at least, be aware of the alternatives. I was not. We wanted to adopt. Kids need families. What could go wrong? Plenty.

For as many happy endings, there are other endings. Birth families changing their minds. Legal issues. System issues. Health issues. Sometimes children go back to their birth families and no one thinks they should, but the boxes got checked and the hoops got jumped through and the system does what the system does. So many things can go the way you did not expect, want, or even the way it should go according to every reasonable adult in the universe. There are no guarantees. And frankly, it is no one’s job in the system to make sure you are okay.  That your other kids will be okay. That you will come through it whole.

The last was our last because I could not take another heartbreak. I did not think I could go through it all again and still remain mentally and spiritually in tact. I told all the workers this. They saw my grief and devastation. Not even six months later they called asking me to take another child.  They are not bad people. They wanted a good home for a child- that is their job. My health and well-being is not their job.

And that is a rough segue to Number Two.

Reason #2: Do not adopt because you think it is your JOB as a CHRISTIAN.  Charity work has its place, but it is not in parenting. Parenting is hard. Adoption is hard. Foster care is hard. Children can be mean and sick. The first child we had placed with us was a blue eyed angel. One day after school we made green jello together. By the level of delight you would have thought I INVENTED the color green. He also  tried to kill our dog and had detailed plans to kill me. When I asked for help, I was told to build a padded room.  You’re going to need more than Bible verses to get through that. We had a child who had lived a life that could only be shown as an rated R movie and he did not want us. He wanted out of our home. Finally, we all agreed we had to let him go. I could have pushed through. I could have said how we are “called” to help the orphans, but I didn’t. Because as I lived life and built our family, I knew these children were not within my abilities to help. We all have our paths and for some reason, we were not meant to travel together. There are plenty of ways to help children, you don’t actually have to take them into your home to do it. The intimacy within a family is not meant for the workplace. And to treat faith and bring children within family as DUTY is not going to work. As a local commercial says, “Not everyone can be a foster parent. But anyone can help a foster child.”

And because we’re on a roll here, that, of course, must bring us to Number Three.

Reason #3:  Do not adopt to give a child A BETTER LIFE. To make parenting successful, you have to be SELFISH. You have to WANT that child SO BAD that NOTHING matters to you. The child hating you, throwing up on you, failing to bond, social workers doing their best and failing, interfering biological relatives, children with issues you could never have imagined and who knows what else…NONE OF THAT MATTERS. Because that child is YOURS. You have to WANT more children because your family is not WHOLE without them. You have to ACHE IN YOUR BONES to parent. The fact that you are helping the child is just a bonus feature on the DVD of life.


Honestly, this is how I survived as long as I did. When DH and I got married, I really wanted us to add to our family.  One time, I saw a family with three little boys in matching plaid cowboy shirts (the kind with pearled snap buttons) and hair cuts slicked down with gel. I thought I would fall down with the ache from the beauty and my envy of it. I tried getting over it with pets,  teaching Sunday School, and my sister’s kids. Our last placement was set for adoption until it wasn’t.

When I found out, I could have let those kids go to another home, but then again, I could NOT let them go. I loved those kids so much, I was keeping them as long as I possibly could.  I was going to soak them up like a piece of bread in sauce. Was it better for them to stay with us and be loved like that? I absolutely think so. But when it came down to it was MY love for them that I put first. And it got me through the tantrums and craziness and meetings and judge’s rulings and, even somehow, their leaving.

Ultimately, we did not adopt. After the failures, we decided to try the “old fashioned way” and Little Sir joined us. Through some sort of baffling miracle, those kids we adored and lost are back in our lives.

I am not against adoption or foster care. I just may not be the best one to seek out for the story about how wonderful it is.

If you are on the journey to adopt or foster, I hope you found some support between the lines of my reasons against it. Because I do support you like only someone who has loved like that (and lost like that) could.

I wish you never to experience the grief we did.

And I wish you to experience all the joy we did.

And I wish all families- no matter how they are formed- love.

All love.