When someone learns that our oldest son is adopted, they will often respond by saying, “Wow, he is so lucky to have you guys!” We laugh to ourselves because we know nothing could be further from the truth.
What they don’t know is that our oldest son has done much more for us than we could ever do for him.
Adopting our son has taught us some unexpected life lessons that we would have never learned had it not been for him.
Today we want to share a few of these lessons with you.
Lesson #1: Extend Grace
In parenting an adopted child, we quickly learned to extend Grace to ourselves for many things, especially not having all the answers. We learned to extend grace to him when he didn’t always adapt to situations the way that we felt he should. And most importantly learned how to extend grace to those who were in his life long before us.
Many times it is easy to look at someone and wonder how they could “choose” an addiction or lifestyle over their child. However, when you are raising that child, you learn that there is so much more to a story. Often that biological parent’s addiction or inability to parent began years before the first drink, the first pill, or the first negative life choice. What we see from the outside, looking in, is a consequence of what they did to try to cope and adapt to their state of brokenness. When you become parents to a child by means of adoption, your responsibility is to be a nonjudgmental positive influence in that child’s world and to show them what it means to love unconditionally. You do this not because you are this amazing human being, but rather because you are raising an amazing human being and you want them to see and know that love is stronger than judgment.
Lesson #2: Always Find Joy
The process from custody to adoption was about a two and a half year journey for us. Those two and a half years were full of trials, frustrations, and questions. Some days felt like years, and minutes that felt like days. We experienced every emotion that you could imagine during that process, some we can’t even put into words. But because we understood that we had been given an amazing opportunity to raise this child, we never wanted him to be privy to any of the negative and challenging emotions we were going through, so we always found something to be joyful for.
Most days that was super easy. Our son has an amazing heart and can light up any room that he is in with his beaming smile. But, other days it was incredibly hard to find joy. Those were the days that our son taught us the most. On days when he would reveal parts of his past that he had kept hidden and our hearts would break for the things he experienced so young, we found joy in knowing that he was finally in a place where he felt safe enough to share these stories with someone. We would and still do find joy in all the places, spaces, and events of life where most people would not expect to find it. The blessing of being able to find buried joy is because of the blessing of our son.
Lesson #3: It’s not always about Us
In having an adopted son we quickly learned that for the sake of our son, we would need to be willing to share in many areas. We had to share the titles of “Mom and Dad.” We had to share holidays, and even at times, we shared our biological children with his extended biological family. We learned to share things that truthfully we didn’t always feel we should have had to share, but we know it would mean a lot to our son if we did.
Through this process, we began to learn that sharing parts of your life and being a part of someone else’s story isn’t always a bad thing. We are so thankful that we get the blessing of sharing our home, our love, and our hearts with our son in unique and special ways that we only get to experience because we chose to share our lives and become his adoptive parents. As we have learned to embrace the tough moments of sharing, we have learned that it’s not always about us!
Lesson #4: Be Thankful in All Things
As we began to see and learn more about the things our son had experienced, we have become incredibly thankful for our own life experiences. We’re grateful for parents who loved us and raised us in a loving environment that was full of hope, boundaries, and second chances. For friends, and strangers who became friends during the crazy journey of adopting and parenting. For lessons learned that might not have otherwise been discovered. We’re thankful for grace in the mess ups (and trust us there were a lot of messing up), wise counsel and most of all for being able to fill a void in our lives that we never knew existed until our oldest son joined our family. Adopting our son has made us thankful for things that, like most people, we use to take for granted.
In the end, adopting our son has not only made us better parents to all our children, adopted, step, and biological, but also better in our friendships and extended family relationships.
It has taught us how to extend grace, love, joy, peace, patience, and understanding when before we may not have chosen to do so. Becoming our sons parents has been one of the greatest blessings of our lives.
So, when people want to point out how, “lucky” he is, we laugh because we know that he’s not the “lucky” one, we are.