by Megan M.
What could possibly be more awkward than talking about the birds and the bees? For many, it’s bringing up the possibility of adoption or foster care at home.
There’s nothing so uncomfortable as having to look at ourselves squarely and not only acknowledging our prejudices, preferences, and fears, but having to set out and articulate them to another person. And let’s face it–there’s a lot of cultural history that informs how adoption and foster care are viewed world wide . . . and that history comes with some seriously heavy baggage.
Last night as we drove home, my husband and I were talking about social policy when he stopped in the middle of a sentence and turned to me.
“You really pushed me beyond what I would have ever expected for my life, Megan. Adoption seemed like a nice idea . . . something really good people do. You crystalized it.”
Touched as I was to hear the appreciation in his voice, I know from a lifetime of experience that there is no way anyone can force a person’s heart to open to the possibility of adoption.
“You don’t give yourself enough credit,” I replied softly. “I might have started the conversation, but in embracing the possibility of adoption, you chose to affirm certain values that you yourself held.”
It was true; all my life I have been able to locate my desire to adopt within an ethic of care I was raised with as a Roman Catholic; my husband not only didn’t have the same cultural framework to draw strength (and language) from, he didn’t come from a culture where adoption was something a couple did unless they absolutely had to.
“They might not have been fully articulated, they might have conflicted with other deeply held values or customs,” I continued, “but you chose to honor them in the end.”
Thinking about our life, I couldn’t help but giggle a little. “With all my powers of persuasion, I could never have dragged you this far.”
“This far,” is eleven years of building an inter-faith home that has sported two careers, two children (one biological, one adopted), two suicidal fish and a soon-to-be adopted Dauschund named Pudding Feet, several live-in relatives, as well as an amazing group of young adults from around the world from whom we have had the wonderful honor of being called Mom and Dad.
It’s often less than graceful, and we have often been all too human . . . but since first having ‘the talk’ on the possibility of adoption, our life has been lived in dialogue with our deepest held values . . . often while we were in the process of discovering them.
In the last several weeks, a couple of married friends have confided to me that they feel the call to foster or adopt, but don’t know how to approach their spouses to talk about it.
For couples who have never explored fostering or adoption as a possibility, the prospect of talking about it may seem daunting; it really doesn’t have to be as long as we begin from the space of our own vulnerability, and honor others’ vulnerability. The fact is, some people hear the calling to enlarge their home and respond instinctively. Some people are drawn to adoption or foster care by making a connection to a special child whom they encounter; many of us require a more cerebral process of discernment, involving research, contemplation, and dialogue.
Whatever it entails, the key is to frame it as a journey to be taken together.
“Have you ever thought about enlarging our home through foster care or adoption?” you might ask.
“Even if you aren’t interested in exploring those routes right now, would you be interested in exploring ways we could support a child in need of a safe and loving home?”
You might just be surprised with delight by the ‘yes’ that follows from the first question. But even if you don’t get an enthusiastic go ahead just off the bat, there are significant ways you can heed the call and foster a child’s well-being and development in a way that enlarges your home and heart. Some of them are:
- Serving as a Big Brother or Big Sister
- Becoming a respite foster care provider
- Joining CASA as a court appointed special advocate
- Becoming trained as a child advocate through
- Mentoring an individual who has aged out of the foster care system
- Seeking out relationships with adoptive and foster families
Opportunities such as these not only provide a person with the means to heed his or her own sense of calling — they also will further the process of a family’s discernment as foster or adoptive parents.
So go ahead . . . start ‘the Talk’. Adoption Resources is here to provide your family with information and referrals, wherever this most important conversation takes you.