To celebrate, we told our kids they could pick any restaurant they wanted for lunch. They unanimously agreed upon McDonald’s and our best efforts to convince them otherwise failed miserably. After ordering our food, our 5-year-old volunteered to pray. He began, “Thank you, God, for my adoption day.” That morning, after months of planning and paperwork, the waiting had come to an end. We finally had our court hearing that gave us legal guardianship of our foster son and changed his last name to Williams.
Surrounded by friends and family, we walked into the courtroom with a nervous excitement. As I sat down, all the events leading to that moment flashed before my eyes. I remembered the first day our son came to our home, the many challenges and doubts we often faced, and the many emotional ups and downs of not knowing if he would remain with us. My daydreaming came to a halt when the lawyer called me to take the stand. I don’t remember everything she asked, but one question stood out among the rest: “Do you understand that once adopted, it will be as if this child were born to you and will have all the same rights as any other biological child?” Yes, I understood. We were bringing our son home, permanently.
A Blessing to Our Family
We fostered our son for a year and a half before his adoption. In that time, he has made tremendous progress. Childhood trauma and neglect often leads to developmental delays and behavioral issues. Those near to our son can testify to the dramatic changes in his life. This has led many to say to me and my wife, “He is so blessed to have you guys.”
While I appreciate such encouragement, I often find myself longing to share that our family is blessed to have to him.
The truth is, I can’t imagine our family without him. He constantly brings a smile to our face as we laugh at his antics. He has a caring disposition that is often masked by his energy but clearly comes out if someone is hurt. Our home wouldn’t be the same without our little red-headed, James Brown-like dancer who busts a move anytime he hears a beat. I admire his tenacity as he wrestles his older brother and, no matter how bad he is losing, keeps coming back for more. He displays love toward my wife by rubbing his head on her like a purring cat while smiling with a cheesy grin. He finds joy in the smallest things and encourages me to do likewise. We didn’t know we needed a caring, energetic, dancing little boy, but God did. In His kindness, He provided such a blessing through our son. We are blessed to have him. Indeed, thank you God for adoption day.
A Place to Belong
I sometimes wonder how much a 5-year-old can understand. How does he deal with overwhelming concerns about his family? What kind of uncertainty does he feel while in foster care? Surely, these ideas are too complex and beyond the ability of a young child to understand. Because he doesn’t communicate such feelings, one might assume he isn’t dealing with such inner turmoil. However, there seems to be an immediate burden lifted since our son’s adoption. While he’s still energetic and constantly moving, there’s a new calmness in his disposition. His big blue eyes now communicate a sense of peace that didn’t seem to be there before. Many others have noticed a change as well.
Perhaps he was carrying a burden too complicated to communicate but still hidden within him. Maybe his laughter masked a deep uncertainty. Perhaps his battles over food were merely an attempt to gain control when everything else seemed to have fallen apart. It could be that some of the social challenges were simply an inability to control his insatiable longing for a family. Like anyone, he needed to know he was loved. He wanted to belong.
It’s heartbreaking to think that a child was forced to navigate such deep thoughts and emotions way too early in life. Each child in need of adoption is likely struggling with such hidden burdens instead of just enjoying their childhood. Many of these children will battle the effects of trauma without the support of a family. Many are longing for an adoption day that may never come.
The New Normal
Walking this road with our family will continue to have many joys and challenges. I don’t know all the difficulties that’ll come or the internal battles our son will face. But, the one thing I do know, he won’t have to face them alone. We’ll navigate anything that comes our way together…as a family.
Thank you, God, for adoption day!