Thursday, May 26, 2011

Reluctant Husband Syndrome - Question 5


If we adopt, how will my other children accept them, or will they?

I let my three bio boys answer this one for you further down this post.  But let me say that it’s a normal question to ask yourself.  I sure asked it before we embarked on our adoption journey.

I love my three sons more than Fred MacMurray.  I would hate it if they didn’t consider an adopted sibling as a “real” sister.  And that would make a miserable life for the sister too.  But that never happened with any of our four daughters.  Let me give you an example of their love.

When our Harper, who’s three, had her heart procedure, all of our other children couldn’t wait to see her.  They were genuinely concerned, and when they arrived at Harpy’s bedside, they couldn’t stop kissing her and doting on her.  A couple of minutes after we first arrived, I told the kids I was going to the cafeteria for a Coke.  Now, normally, there would be a blare of competing voices, beckoning to go with me.  But there was silence.  And all eyes were on their sweet little sister.  And that’s exactly what she is—their sister.

When Adéye and I see something like that, our hearts melt because we know what’s taken root in our sons’ hearts AND in the hearts of other children we’ve already adopted.  When you adopt into your family, you’re enriching your children’s lives, not detracting from them.  You also teach them a powerful life lesson at the same time.  It’s not hard to imagine what that life lesson is…

You impart the heart of our Father for orphans into your other children’s hearts.  They not only EXPERIENCE the reward of being around kids who didn’t have parents.  They grow to LOVE them as their own sibling.  And let me tell you, when those new siblings are special-needs ex-orphans, it does something in them, no matter what the age.  They learn patience, kindness, sacrificial love, and how to help another person even when they don’t feel like it.  They learn that people matter to God and to us, regardless of their special need.

Listen to what my boys are saying:

Connor, 12:  Life would be so different if they weren’t in our family.  They’re my sisters.  I don’t feel like they’re anything less.  And it’s kinda cool that they come from other countries.

Kellan, 10:  It wouldn’t be as fun without my sisters.  We do stuff together, play together.  I don’t know, Dad.  Why are you asking me this stuff? (just keeping it real, folks!)
Cade, 6:  When we have a lot of people in our house, we can go out a lot.  We get to go to fun places.  I wouldn’t want them gone because they’re my sisters.  Dad, can I go now?
Notice that none of the children mentions the girls’ special needs.  They just don’t see them.

Now, the last thing I want to do is paint a picture of a perfect Salem family.  We are not.  The boys and Hannah-Claire (the most cognizant of the four) can go at it like the best of them.  But which family does not have this?  That’s what brothers and sisters do.  I remember the old TV series, The Waltons, and believe it or not, they had their spats, too. 

We certainly do not have all the answers.  But we do know that the grace of God covers us all. Still, is there something that parents can do to cultivate a bond before an adopted child arrives home?  I believe there is.

When a couple is expecting, it’s easy to form that bond with other children because they see a constant reminder that they’re getting a little brother or sister—it’s called a mother’s belly.  The kids can touch it, pet it, talk to it.  And the mother makes it “real” for them by encouraging them to do so.

In the same way, parents “expect” a new adopted child.  This waiting period of several months from when you first start the adoption process to Gotcha Day, I believe, is God’s way of preparing a family.  The mother and father should involve their children from the start, telling them the future sibling’s story.  If there isn’t much of a story, tell them about the plight of orphans in general. 

Notice I say mother and father.  Dads, this is an important time for you.  Become involved even in this stage.  Excite your children about your new child.  They must see, not only from Mom, that this is a good thing.  Your other kids need to see Dad looking forward to this new child too.  Children are smart.  They can pick up lots of things we think we’re not communicating.  They need to hear from you, Dad, things like,

“Son, what name do you think God wants to give your new sister?” 

Or “Isn’t it exciting?!  Your new brother’s coming in just 30 days!  Why don’t we make a countdown calendar?”

Or “Your new sister has a special need.  Let’s look at her picture again and ask God to be with her.”

Involvement breeds affection, like in any new relationship.  It’s that simple.  A lot of it will grow naturally, but you can start now.

And if you’re only in the stage of just thinking about adopting, guys, let me and thousands of other dads of adopted children tell you—your life and the life of your other children will never be the same!


  1. God has put adoption on my heart. I have been looking up info and after much praying I talked to my husband about it. After telling him how I had been feeling he says "andrea i want my own kids...i dont know how i would feel about having someone elses kid to raise" which I told him was completely fine with him feeling this way because I know God is bigger than our feelings and if its meant to be it will there anything i could say to help ease his mind or should i just continue to pray?
    my email is

    thank you so much!!!

  2. Thanks for posting this.

    -a dad with multiple kids by birth who is looking forward to adopting

  3. I'll give you this one bro - it's always been a non-issue at our place! Remember that bio sibs are 'strangers' to each other too - and can be as different as night and day!


  4. This is to Andrea. I wish there were a way for me to reply to your comment directly underneath it! Anyway, thank you so much for your question. It's a very good one, and I'm sure a lot of dads (and moms) struggle with this. I feel I need to reply to this publicly here.

    I address this very issue in "Reluctant Husband Syndrome - Question 5." You can look to the right margin here and find it in the RHS label.

    But also, being a man, I have to give you bullet points. You should do these things in order:

    1. PRAY - Prayer for your husband in this area is critical. NEVER give up. Prov. 21:1 says, "In the Lord's hand, the king's heart is a stream of water that he channels toward all who please him." If your hubby is the king of the house, God will do a work in his heart.
    2. EDUCATE - In your own perfect way, show your husband in Scripture how God's heart bleeds for the orphan and how we, after all, were "adopted" as His children. And look how much He loves US!
    3. ENCOURAGE - You can encourage your husband to hear stories from other men who've adopted. They will tell you, like me, that that child is as good as blood to them.

    Try that, take two aspirins, and call me in the morning.


  5. Anthony - what a wonderful post. I can say without a shadow of any doubt my husband would say AMEN and AMEN to your words. Our children all ours. Not one of our children see their adopted sibling as anything less than their full sister/brother. We helped cultivate that love for them before any of them came home. They counted down each homecoming and praised God for His faithfulness when some adoptions took a very long time to bring their loved sibling home. God is so good to finish what He has started in each of us.

    Children learn so much about what is most important to God - self sacrifice and being about His business all of the time. Giving up self so He can fully fill you up. Our children may bicker but their bonds are so strong and their love runs very deep!

    I praise Him for the example you and your family set before all who come to read His-tory in your lives!

    Much love in Christ and I can't wait to meet you all this summer!

  6. Thank you for sharing. It is lovely to read your posts too. We are praying for God to lead us with what he is putting on our hearts. Adoption laws here in Australia are crazy and difficult - it is not common here in Australia for families to adopt. It had to be God and I just want to thank you for your sharing that blesses us.

  7. We have 3 bio kids, and 2 adopted kids. My bio son just graduated from high school and gave a senior speech. He talked about what he wanted to do with his life and things that had really impacted him. He said that he felt that he had learned one of life's great lessons, and that it was, "family has absolutely nothing to do with who you are biologically related to". He is wise beyond his years.

  8. Had to google Fred MacMurray. Thought maybe that was some South African saying. LOL
    Our bio children, just like hubby and me, are becoming more like Christ through our adoptions. We adopted out of birth order and it wasn't easy for our misplaced firstborn, but she has developed so much character! We have no regrets and neither does she. I remember the first week or two, she was struggling and cried to me: I don't know why I keep being mean to her? I love her and I'm so glad she's here!
    (It's called a sinful nature, sweetheart.) Through adoption, our youngest (at the time) got a twin brother. (They're 4 days apart) She doesn't remember life without him and she plans to marry him one day. ;)
    They have all learned so much, gained so much character, and have come to realize that they are dependent on the Lord for any goodness in them. God has been greatly glorified through adoption in our family. Praise His name!

  9. beautiful stuff..awesome family. Thanks for sharing:)


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