The first time my parents decided to adopt was on a beach. A friend was telling them about a little boy she worked with whom no one wanted. Without missing a beat, my mom said, “We’ll take him.” And they did.
Sure, there were things to do: classes to take, visits and paperwork (so much paperwork). But the first step was what mattered most. They were willing. Willing to open their hearts wider and do more of what they do best — love.
My parents have adopted five kids over the last 12 years. And perhaps you should know, not all the adoptions have been easy. There were social work visits and court dates. Waiting for parental right termination and ensuring everything was ready. It took work and time.
Just like parenting.
My mom and dad are great parents. That’s what they do. For seven kids.
The five children they’ve adopted all have special needs. I could give you the list of diagnoses, but that doesn’t really matter. Their needs require more appointments, more accommodations and more sleepless nights. And those things are no different than if they had birthed a baby with special needs.
You show up. You do the work. You parent.
When people see what my parents do on a daily basis, they call them amazing. In many ways, they are. But adoption isn’t what makes them amazing; good parenting and loving completely is what makes them amazing.
They will be the first to tell you they’re not anything special. They are ordinary, just like you and me. They just love big. They treat each of my brothers and sisters alike. They are not superheroes; they are just parents, walking through life, loving big and full on both the easy days and the hard days. It sounds so simple, but we all know parenthood is anything but simple.
It’s easy to place the idea of adoption on a pedestal, to think it is reserved for people with special skills. Adoption is special, but it’s not unreachable. It takes real, everyday people.
Nationally there are over 400,000 kids in foster care, and over 100,000 of those kids are waiting to be adopted. Every one of these kids needs someone who will say “yes.”
November is National Adoption Awareness Month, and the Sunday before Thanksgiving provides a special day to highlight the importance of adoption – National Adoption Day. With approximately one in 50 kids in the US being adopted, and six in 10 people having a personal experience with adoption in their family or social circle, it’s clear that adoption is not just for a small group of people with a superhuman skillset.
Adoption is special. It is beautiful and hard and will require more of you than you know, but that’s parenting. We can recognize the beauty of adoption without making it seem unattainable for everyday people.
Maybe you don’t feel like adopting is part of your parenting journey. But it is part of our world. Sometimes we don’t know how to handle things that seem different from what we know, and admiring them from afar seems easier. We can learn how to help families connected to adoption, we can take away the stigmas of adoption in the way we interact and talk about it, and we can stop distancing ourselves from what seems different and remember that adoption is simply parenting.
Kids waiting to be adopted don’t need superheroes. They need people willing to say yes. People willing to open their heart, and their home, to love and parent well.
This month, may we all think about how we can directly help the children waiting for someone to say “yes.”
Rebecca Hastings is a mother of three and a former classroom teacher.