How can I love an adopted child on the same level as my own?
You know what? I always wondered about this; even when I was a little boy and I had classmates who were adopted. I thought, but they’re just “water.” You know, “blood is thicker than water”? (Growing up in a Lebanese family, blood is everything.)
Also as a kid, I heard stories of adopted children being mistreated. Surely it was because they weren’t the parents’ own child? Yeah, that explains it, I thought. Look at Christina, Joan Crawford’s adopted daughter. “I SAID…NO…WIRE…HAAAAAAAANGERS!!!!!”
Adopted children just aren’t your children! Or so the story goes.
But doesn’t our society reinforce this kind of stuff? I mean, think about it. Tell me you haven’t heard things like this…
“Well, my wife and I have been trying and trying to have a baby, but it’s just not happening. It’s been ten years. But we’re still hoping. Waiting. Praying. I guess if it doesn’t happen in the next few years, we’ll have to consider adoption.”
Oh, Lord, not that!
When someone says something like this, I used to think, Yeah, that makes sense. Why not try to have your own first? The telltale phrase is “your own.”
Already in my mind was that an adopted child is not anyone’s “own.” Ever. “Well, we adopted a little boy, then, glory to God!—we found out we were pregnant and we had our ‘own.’”
You see the language? Today, the Salems tell people we have three bio sons and four adopted daughters… but that’s because we want our family to be a witness to everyone about how great it is. Of course, if we were physically present with people, we wouldn’t need to say that Hannah-Claire and Haven were adopted.
I like to joke that someday, I’ll tell those girls that they’re adopted. Actually, Hannah-Claire DEFINITELY knows. The other night at dinner, Kellan told Hannah-Claire that she’s Chinese American, to which she swiftly replied, “I’m not Chinese anymore. I used to be.”
Don’t worry, folks. She doesn’t have a complex about being Chinese. If you knew Hannah-Claire, you’d say she’s just being Hannah-Claire.
Truth be told, my love for all four of my daughters is not divided with the love I have for my bio boys—it’s multiplied!
So men, are you wondering when and how this happens?
It varies. Everyone’s different. But for the most part, at the defining moment when I knew that God was telling me to adopt a particular child, something happened inside of me. I started becoming very defensive of the child I had never seen. It’s that God-given “thing” He puts in man to make him feel like…da, da, da, DAH!...Protector of the Universe! (Echo sound.)
Adéye shared here the supernatural experience I had when it was make or break for us to choose to get Hannah-Claire or not. It happened in an instant. With the others, it just kind of grew.
I think it’s amazing how God gives a family expecting a child nine months to prepare for it AND to have their love and sense of protection for him or her grow over time.
It’s the same thing when we finally make the decision to adopt. Depending on the country and on the condition of the child, there are several months between the time you give the green light to when Gotcha Day happens (the day when you pick them up). I think that’s convenient. For me, God used that time to experience that growing excitement, that expectation, a father feels before baby is born.
Then—and this was the same for all four children—at that moment when my eyes landed on that child, I felt like I did when my three sons were born. Emotional! Wow, that shocked me the first time it happened when we got Hannah-Claire. I kept saying that she was so cute, and Adéye had to calm me down a couple of times!
Then, holding them for the first time in my arms, oh, wow! So much love welled up each time, I couldn’t contain myself. And just like love that comes from God, it abounds more and more. With each passing birthday and each fleeting Christmas, I just shake my head and say, “Thank you, God, for my beautiful family. I could not have picked them out better myself.”
Growing exponentially with time.
Such is the love that’s inside me for my adopted daughters. And such is the love you will experience, too, when you finally look your wife in the eyes and say, “Let’s go get that little girl.”