National Catholic Register

Culture of Life

Adoption Option

Family Matters

BY Dr. Ray Guarendi

November 7-20, 2010 Issue | Posted 10/29/10 at 1:23 PM

 

We have two natural children. Both my wife and I have lately been feeling a tug toward adoption, but it’s not definite yet. How do you know if you’re called to adopt?

For many, the call to adopt comes when the phone rings and they hear of a baby or child ready for them. The internal call has been ringing steadily, as they’ve been childless and long ready to be child-more. In other words, for those wanting to adopt to start a family, the call is pretty clear. It’s what they want, and it’s been what they’ve wanted.

On the other hand, some couples, over time, feel the adoption urge fading, either because they’ve come to accept childlessness as a given of their existence, or the years have crept up, persuading them that it’s getting too late to start the whole process now. Not that they’ve totally ruled out the option. But any desire left would need to gain renewed strength to reopen the question. Slowly they’ve become more acclimated to the status quo, family-wise. Put another way, the longer one internally debates adoption, the more likely it never happens. Inertia is a powerful force in human psychology.

Of course, adoption isn’t for everybody. The great majority of folks are able to conceive and receive children through birth. Nonetheless, there are those who begin to consider adding a child, or children, to their biological family through adoption. To use your words, they wonder if they are “called to adopt.”

It has been my experience that many asking your question are moved by their religion. That is, at the center of their deepest-held convictions is an impulse to care for, and take care of, others in most need. Realizing how many children out there are waiting for homes — for any number of race, health, age and history reasons — some veteran parents start to ponder whether they are willing and able to provide one of those homes.

This is not to say that one’s motives in such cases are 100% altruistic. Yes, Mom and Dad want to invite another into their family. But they also may want more family, and it isn’t happening through birth. Either way, the question remains: How do you know you’re called? Perhaps the more precise question is: How loud does the call have to be?

For those nudged by religious beliefs, the answer is: Not real loud. The idea of caring for the most vulnerable is core to their religious faith. They believe the Bible is the word of God. And it says to “take care of the widows and orphans.” Therefore, the call is in writing. God wrote it down for them.

Most Bible-based faiths would not assert that God absolutely commands adoption if one is able. Still, for those who believe that the Bible speaks supernatural truth, it does provide a compelling reason to listen more closely to the call, even if one isn’t emotionally feeling that call so strongly yet as to prompt action.

Are we called? is a question that danced in Randi’s and my heads for some years. We thought we had it answered several kids ago, as we mentally settled on six children as our limit. Half a dozen was a large but still manageable number, we concluded. However, with time, the itch started again, prompting us to listen once more to the adoption question. As happens regularly in my life, good words on the subject came from Randi, who essentially said, “Ray, we have a good marriage, a supportive family, a comfortable home, the finances — everything we need. If not us, who?” I hate it when she’s so logical.

Granted, 10 kids isn’t for everybody.

Nevertheless, as we assessed our lives at that time, obviously with no guarantees on the future, we really had no reason to keep us from seeking to adopt another child.

Fortunately for us, we kept having no reasons for the next few kids.

Whether you’re thinking of expanding from none to one, one to two, two to three, or nine to 10, do a little personal home study. Is your marriage solid? Is your home life a source of contentment? Are your finances manageable? Is your house able to accommodate? Are career schedules amenable? Is emotional well-being present? Do you need another player for the soccer team?

Ask yourself, if I’m feeling birth pangs to adopt: Just, exactly, what is stopping me? Are there legitimate obstacles? Or is my uncertainty mainly founded on some vague anxiety over the unknown? Is going from what I know — and have grown comfortable with — to something I don’t know, the main restraint for me?

The fact that you are even considering adoption says part of you wants to do this. Now you need to identify what part of you is saying not to do this. Separate the real, present moment reasons from the what ifs of whenever. Give your right-now realities more weight than those imagined or feared.

I can’t count how many parents I’ve spoken with over the years. In that large, unknown number is another large number who, after their parenting days were long gone, confessed, “I wish I would have had more kids.” On the other hand, I can count the number who’ve said to me, “I think I had too many kids. I wish I would have had one or two less.” That number is zero.

The doctor is always in at DrRay.com.