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10 Things Adoption Taught Me

Brielle blowing a kiss

When Scott and I said ‘yes’ to adoption, we really had no idea the journey that it would take us on. I’m thankful that ignorance was bliss as we blindly felt our way through the process. Our agency, Holt International, was amazing, but it’s like being a first-time parent. You really don’t fully understand adoption until you’re in it.

The process was filled with a million highs and a few lows. When it was all said and done, adoption brought us an amazing black-haired, brown-eyed girl with a ready smile and wave for anyone that passes her by. You can watch our full adoption journey here.

I have come a long way from the days of being blissfully naïve about adoption. I wish that you and I could grab some coffee so that I could give you a behind-the-scenes look at our post-adoption life and maybe I could impart some adoption wisdom (ha!) on you. Since I can’t physically do that with each of you...

Here are 10 things adoption taught me:

1. Baby dolls and grass can be scary.

I proudly bought Brielle’s first baby doll shortly after we received her referral. On Gotcha Day (the day we met her), I nervously held it up to her face to entice her to come to me. What a mistake! She hated the baby doll, and I hid it for two weeks while in China. Fake toys with eyes scared her because she had likely never seen them.

Brielle scared of her baby doll

Brielle is also our city girl. She wouldn’t touch grass for a month after we returned home. Grass terrified her. Just like the baby doll, she had probably never been exposed to grass. That took this Midwest girl by surprise!

2. Not everything is a worst-case scenario.

I spent many months post-adoption searching for things that were “wrong” with Brielle. We had taken classes and read books/blogs to prepare. According to the material, she had to have some type of attachment or bonding issue. I drove myself nuts looking for something wrong. Maybe it’s because we did so much right, but I think it has more to do with #3.

(Disclaimer: I don’t want this to take away from the fact that many kids face attachment and bonding issues. This is simply what we’ve experienced thus far.)

3. God takes care of my kids.

Brielle spent two years of her life without me in China. The first two years of her life are somewhat of a mystery. Yes, we have clues, but not all of the clues make sense. God took care of her and she thrived. For two years, God didn’t need my help to take care of Brielle.

He’s faithful like that.

4. It’s the cure for perfection and control issues.

If you want to be freed of perfectionism or a desire for control, just adopt. OK, you need for God to place this call on your life, BUT it is a cure for it all! Adoption taught me to surrender my plans and go with God’s plans. When I look back over the past four years, I’d without hesitation say that God is good and always faithful. His plans truly are perfect!

5. God provides financial resources in amazing ways.

Most adoptive families will tell you that they have no idea how they paid for their international adoption because they simply don’t make large amounts of money. God always provides the money.

I always tell people to never let money stop them from adopting. There are so many great grant agencies like Pure Gift of God or Show Hope, and most families get a large tax return after the adoption is finalized.

6. Your family expands in more ways than one.

Yes, we gained a daughter, but we gained a greater extended family too. When in China, we traveled with numerous other families. Our kids grew up side-by-side on the other side of the world in orphanages and foster homes. We loved each other through two weeks in China while missing our bio kids, finalizing mountains of adoption paperwork, and adjusting to a new child. These families are now on Christmas card lists and a must-stop when vacation plans allow for it.

Adoptive family group picture at orphanage

7. I share a bond with two other women on the other side of the world.

I think of Brielle’s birth mom often. Oh, how I wish that I could meet her and show her that she is healthy and thriving. Brielle's birth mom chose life for her, and I am forever grateful.

Brielle’s foster mom is also a hero. Brielle has had zero attachment issues. That’s called being loved. Her foster family loved her even when they knew that they couldn’t keep her.

8. Enjoy the process.

As I get older, I find so much wisdom in enjoying the journey.

How often do we make countdowns while longing to be on the other side of a difficult journey? The adoption process is long, and many times, time frames are vague and ever-changing. I did my absolute best to journal and my husband was great at encouraging me to enjoy our time in China. Personal growth happens in the process.

9. Post-adoption blues are real.

Before travel, the adoption journey is full of exciting milestones with support, whether financially or through prayer, coming from everywhere. The airport party ends while the true grit and redemption of adoption begins in your home. It leaves you feeling lonely with your emotions in a fragile state, and it’s OK. Redeeming a life has never come without a cost.

Airport party

10. I’m not my child’s savior.

It’s easy to think that Brielle is blessed to be in our family, but the reality is that the blessing is all ours. Brielle didn’t deserve to be orphaned, and she also didn’t need me to “save” her. She already has a Savior who loves her more than I ever could.

Witnessing God’s redeeming love for Brielle allowed me to experience on a deeper level just how much He loves me too. God redeems and restores, and He desires to save every single one of us if we simply allow Him.

This is the greatest thing that adoption taught me.

P.S. Bonus tip! Baby carriers are a bonding must-have if you're adopting a baby or toddler.

We were gifted a Tula carrier to take with us to China. It was a life-saver. It was perfect for attachment because she was snuggled up close to us wherever we traveled. Yes, she was basically two years old when we picked her up, but she loved sitting in it. We carried Brielle all over China.

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