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Challenges of Adoption

Throughout the journey of adoption, where my wife and I find ourselves searching for a son or daughter to share our home and our hearts with, I come across people who tell us how caring and how big our hearts must be.  In my mind I wrestle with this because deep in my heart I don’t feel that way. I feel selfish.

I want to be a dad, just like other men. I want to coach baseball, soccer and other sports. I want to be a mentor to a young mind who doesn’t know how much life has to offer them.

Will they enjoy the hobbies I loved as a kid, the music I play or the lifestyle I live to today?  I want to explore the world and watch their eyes light up when they discover their one true calling, whatever that may.

I want to be there for them when they wrestle with a moral contradiction. Then teach them how to come up with a solution that allows them to acknowledge how big their hearts can be and how intelligent their minds can be.

When we set out to adopt a child over three years ago, I felt proud of my decision.  After all, if I could adopt my dog and feel as protective as I do for him, surely I could be a good father.  That feeling quickly fades as the adoption process proceeds along.  It begins with the home study and it continues with the fire inspection and the health inspection of the home

By the time we turned over our financial information to determine if we could support a child comfortably, the false pride in our choice was replaced by the fear of actually doing the job we were signing up for.  Adoption is a responsibility that should not be taken lightly.  In our case, adopting an older child, we must prepare for circumstances that many parents wouldn’t dream of going through.

Will our child have experienced  verbally or physically abusive relationships?  Will they have been exposed to drugs?  Will they have been sexually assaulted?  Each question raises concerns of our ability to properly handle the situation. Will the child be emotionally withdrawn?  Will they be physically abusive to my wife or the puppy?  After all, the dog is a responsibility we took on when we adopted him six years ago.

When we read about each child and their backgrounds, we have to determine what we can handle ourselves.  Just loving a child sometimes is not enough to help them through their difficulties.  As my wife puts it, sometimes you just can’t love the pain away.  If we are not properly equipped to handle the child’s issues, we must not try to bring that child into our home.  How big is your heart when you’ve made that decision?

It was not long ago that I had to say no to adopting a young boy that we had inquired about.  His difficulties would be life long.  He would never be able to care for himself.  He was non-verbal and acted out physically.  When we finally made the difficult decision to say no to adopting him, it weighed heavily on my mind and like a heavy weight pressing down on my chest

I would go to bed at night with this child’s face and name in my mind.  Who would care for him and help him get the most out of his life?  All I knew was that it could not be me.  I was not prepared to take on that responsibility.  I wondered if God had removed other opportunities for adopting a child because of that decision

After a while, I realized that we had made the right decision for both my wife and I, and the child.  He is still with a loving foster family that is prepared to continue to care for him in the way he needs.  I think about the statement the fire inspector made when he approved the fire alarms and windows in our new home.  He said he admired our decision to adopt and told us how big our hearts must be.

It is a life changing decision to adopt a child, especially an older child who might have been through more heartache than the average person can imagine.  When the child is born to you, there are no decisions to make.  The responsibility to raise that child is removed no matter what happens or what ailments the child is born with.  In adoption, once the decision to adopt is made, then many more decisions come along.

Sometimes these decisions make you feel as if you are taking the life of the child in your hands.  The wrong decision could be disastrous.  The ability to make theses choices properly are now the same choices that let me know I am prepared to be a father.  Even with the memory of children I can’t help fresh in my mind. Their faces and names clear to me. I know that the ability to make the choice and move on will allow those children to find the right parents to handle what they have been through.

As an intelligent man, I know what I am able to bring to the table.  I know my strengths and my weaknesses. I know my wife’s strengths and weaknesses and how we can assist each other in whatever we face. I know that when the time is right, and the child we inquire about or are presented with is right for our situation, we will continue on with our family that day.  We have already started the foundation for that family.


stuart ashcraft



As the mother of two adopted children, your article resonated with me. I know that feeling of having to recognize just what your strengths (and weaknesses) are and what you can handle. While we said no to some children – really in the initial process when we talked with the agency about what we could or would consider – we said yes to two children who bring with them a life filled with joy and trials. I joked with the director of the agency that she hadn’t told us how tough the teenage years would be. She laughed and said, “if we told you, no one would ever adopt!” Adoption is usually not what we thought it would be…but we are finding out it is so much more. Yes there are tough times, but the good times far outweigh the bad. I wouldn’t change a thing.


What a touching post about the joys, challenges, and everything in between that comes with family life, regardless of the road you take to build that family.

kate nyc

Although I rarely comment, I cannot express enough how much I adore this blog and more importantly how much I learn from it.

Many many thanks.

Hope Yoloye

I thank God for this material. It is wisdom to know our limitations and not be presumptive. Thank you for helping others to know that it is okay to say NO even when it feels unkind to do so.


Wonderful frank insights about the adoption process, the emotions, the reality checks and the soul searching required to be adoptive parents. A spiritual foundation is a must have for the decisions required to adopt and raise a child. We have the supreme example to follow of a Father’s love poured out for His children. My utmost admiration goes out to all who make that choice. Great article!


thank you for the wonderful insight, what an eye opener for someone like me who has a child, you’re so right, we do have a way of taking our child’s challenges almost for granted.
I thought of adoption for many years, but my place is fostering

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