Today, I’m writing to all of you thinking of, or pursuing, foster parenting or adoption. You. The hopeful, the risk-takers. The ones dreaming of future sons and daughters, looking through waiting child websites or picturing futures with the one(s) who will eventually join your family.
Keep doing that.
It helps. I’ve been there, and imagining the possibilities is one of the best aspects of this crazy-making adoption process. These conversations are where you carve out all of the rich, sweet potential of adoption. Here is where you make sense of the preparation, the gut-wrenching process, with all of its false starts and inadequate answers. Here is where your motivation lives.
But consider something else. Your reality will be what it will be. Be careful of investing too much time building a set of expectations (of the process, your experience, or your future child) that will most certainly leave you frustrated. So, in the middle of your wondering, I want to challenge you to be open.
Just be open.
Be willing to honestly consider the options that come your way as you work to adopt a child into your family. I can promise you, there will be roadblocks. The road you are on, the one you absolutely know in your gut will lead you straight to the perfect child — the one you’ve dreamt of — will come to a divide. You will be forced to consider a right or left turn.
And it is right here where you will risk paralysis. Frustration. Resentment.
It’s ok. You’ll get through.
I’m a big fan of a singer/songwriter by the name of Sara Groves. In an interview, she shared the inspiration behind one of her songs, describing an idea where the two enemies of reality are fear and fantasy.
This is exactly where you will find yourself, more than once, as you pursue foster care: between fear and fantasy. These are, perhaps, the top two barriers to the successful parenting of a child not born to you. Are you fearful of what might be if you say yes? Do you fantasize about a son who hits the game-winning home run, or about the walk with your daughter down the aisle at her wedding? Both can be dangerous, and focusing on either will leave you stuck, and ruin the greatness that is found in the reality unfolding right in front of you.
“What if I sat right here and took you in without the fear
and loved you whole without the flight and didn’t try to pass this cup?
This cup, I want to drink it up. To be right here in the middle of it.
Right here, right here, this challenging reality’s better than fear or fantasy.”
“This Cup,” by Sara Groves, from the album “Floodplain”
At these times, I challenge you to take a breath. Be mindful of your strengths and limitations, but be open to the unexpected. You will, eventually, face a reality that is vastly different than your expectations. Welcome it, and take it all in. Be open to the possibilities that you never dreamed of.
Greg Eubanks is Holt’s Sr. Vice President for U.S. Foster Care & Adoption. He brings over 25 years of experience to his work with Holt, as well as his experience as an adoptive dad.