INSIGHT INTO ADOPTION AND FOSTERING + RESOURCES FOR HELPING CHILDREN WHO CANNOT HELP THEMSELVES.
Here Tyson Zahner reviews his story of being adopted and later becoming an adoptive parent. Read as he shares insight and advice for parents entering the world of adoption or contemplating it. Follow the links for additional resources on adoption and foster parenting.
Hi, Tyson Zahner here. Becoming a parent is never easy. It doesn’t matter if it’s child number one or child number five. Welcoming a new life into the world and into your home is an event laced with questions, doubts, and uncertainties. But the beauty and blessings that come with being a parent are unsurpassed.
For some people, natural birth isn’t an option, and that’s perfectly okay. Our planet is filled with young ones who need the comfort and care of a strong family unit.
If you can’t have a child yourself (and even if you can), please consider adoption https://www.childwelfare.gov/topics/adoption/.
I’ve been blessed to experience adoption in my life in a variety of ways. This gives me a unique insight into that lifestyle. I was adopted in 1977 when there was still a stigma that came with it.
My sister was also adopted, and I enjoyed the company of many foster brothers and sisters over the years. Our parents had a heart for the parentless and wanted to share their love with as many children as possible.
Although my parents and us kids had to sometimes deal with the social stigma of adoption, I never questioned their love for us.
The way they cared for a multitude of children through the years showed me the level of generosity and patience it takes to be a parent in any capacity. I took this compassion for children into adulthood and let it touch every aspect of my parenting as I entered into fatherhood.
Beyond being adopted, I’m also the father of an adopted child. My wife and I had difficulty conceiving in the beginning and decided adoption would be our path to parenthood. We brought our first son into our lives in 2008. We knew we wanted two children and applied for a second adoption not long after the first. In a twist of fate, my wife found herself pregnant around the same time! We’re now fortunate to have two wonderful children.
Read heartwarming adoption stories here: https://www.tysonzahner.co/heartwarming-adoption-stories/
When I reflect on adoption, the key takeaway is love. A relational and emotional bond that you share with a child is one of the greatest gifts you can give. My parents believed the children that came into their home were gifts from God, and they showed their gratitude by returning the affection.
Love is truly what it all comes down to. Giving up a child for adoption may appear to be a selfish act, but in many cases, the birth parent does this out of love. My birth mother was young, financially unprepared, and not ready to give me a proper home. Out of love, she handed me over to my adoptive parents who were then able to provide a stable home full of reassurance and affection.
There was no secret in the house that my sister and I were adopted. My parents were always transparent and even offered for me to seek out my birth mother. I never pursued this, but providence eventually led me to meeting my birth family. My life has been fully enriched by discovering who my parents are and the larger family that I’m now a part of.
In giving me up for adoption, I was able to enjoy better opportunities and a more fulfilled life. I don’t begrudge my birth mother for letting me go. I understand it was for my own well-being and happiness. I know this isn’t the case in every adoption story, but as the new parent, you have the power to impact the life of a hurting or needy child.
Even as someone who was raised as the result of adoption, my wife and I were very hesitant. We faced a lot of common questions about our newly adopted child such as:
- How will they adjust?
- How will we answer their questions?
- How will the relationship be different from a biological child?
- When will we tell them?
- What if we’re not ready?
There will always be uncertainties and questions like this. Some of these questions are familiar to parents regardless of adoption. In fact, the fear of the unknown is often the scariest part. But making the decision to adopt is a blessing that stretches beyond your own home.
Adoption carries an impressive amount of weight due to the ripple effect it has. The lives that are touched start with the adoptee, but it doesn’t stop there. An adoption impacts everyone from the birth mother and her future family, to the adoptive parents, their immediate and distant relatives, and the local neighborhood and community. Never underestimate your ability to give a child the best life they can have.
Before you jump in with your clothes on, it’s important to consider many important details about adoption. As I mentioned, my wife and I were hesitant and had our own fears about the whole process. Even with adoption in my background, we had to look at the possibilities from every angle.
Adoption isn’t right for everyone. Here are some of the most important questions to ask before you take the plunge into adoption:
- Can we emotionally and financially care for this child?
- How long are we willing to wait for the perfect match?
- How will adoption impact our biological children?
- Should we adopt an infant or an older child?
- Should we adopt domestically or internationally?
- Should we try to foster parenting first?
- Are we ready to commit our lives to an adopted child?
- How much information will we reveal about the birth parents?
- How will we share our adoptive child’s story with them?
- Do we meet all of the basic adoption requirements?
Discuss these things in depth with your spouse. If you already have children, discuss the possibilities with them. If you know any parents who’ve gone through the process, ask them out for coffee and pick their brains. Gather as much information as you can so you can make an educated decision. And be honest with yourself if adoption doesn’t seem right for you. If adoption isn’t right for you but you still want to help, consider these resources for supporting foster families and children.
As an adoptee who became the adoptive parent, let me give you my best advice if you’re considering adoption. First, keep everything rooted in love. Your new child will need reassurance. They’ll have moments of self-doubt. But your love will give them encouragement that they are special, unique, and a gift to your family. Make every effort to show them that they’re wanted and accepted. Continuous love will get you through most of the challenges you’ll face.
Second, be willing to answer their questions. Honesty and transparency will fill the areas that your love can’t fill. My parents always offered information and answered questions at age-appropriate times. Next to love, I believe communication is the best way to overcome the challenges of adoption.
My mother used to say, “You’re unique because God chose our family for you.” My parents made known that they weren’t a gift to me, but that I was a gift to them.
Whether you’re just starting to consider adoption or you already have an adopted child under your roof, you are offering the love and life they deserve. Unconditional love and honesty will provide the strongest bond for a trust-filled relationship.
May God bless you in your adoption journey.