Adoption is a crazy ride. After some great conversation at an orphan care meeting the other night, I realize that there are 5 stages to adoption, much like grief but generally with a happier ending. As I was brainstorming this, I actually came up with a couple different ways of looking at it.
The 5 Stages of the Adoption Process
- Denial — All an adoptive parent sees when starting the process is a child at the end of a long dark tunnel. That child is a bright light, diverting all of our attention, so we can't see anything else in the tunnel. The reality of the journey that lies ahead can be daunting and overwhelming, so the parent chooses only to keep their eyes on the end goal so they don't see the tunnel at all.
- Anger — As you begin to divulge every little nuance and detail of your private life to complete strangers who write it all down to share it with agencies and government officials under the code name "home study," the anger and frustration can start to kick in. This is where the hiccups, delays, issues and extras fees begin to emerge. You start to discover everything wrong with the process.
- Bargaining — As you get deeper into the process, you start to realize just how very long and dark the tunnel is. (The average international adoption takes 3 years and nearly $30k.) New policies are always being enacted, laws changed, new requirements added and extra fees heaped onto the case load. This is when the parent may go rouge and attempt to become Jason Bourne in search of the origin of any and all issues and how to annihilate them.
- Depression — The wait. The excruciating, gut-wrenching, fear inducing, mind-numbing, tear-jerking wait for your child. There are many tears in this stage. All-encompassing worry sets in. You worry about your child, and you worry about the process. And you worry you're going to lose your child in the process.
- Acceptance — Then the day finally arrives and you become a family. Forever.
As you go through the process of adopting a child, you learn a ton, you think about things you may have never thought about before and your entire perspective changes. Honestly I think these are the stages that God takes us through as He begins to break our hearts for what breaks His.
The 5 Stages of Your Heart Through Adoption
- Denial — When you decide to adopt, it's generally either because you selfishly want a child or you self-righteously want to save a child. Either way, you go into an adoption thinking it's just about adding a child to your family.
- Anger — As you get knee deep into the adoption waters, you learn about why these kids need families. You learn the horror stories of how they became orphans. You realize that the world is a VERY fallen place full of VERY fallen people. The travesties make you cry so hard you might scream. You become so angry you can't think straight, and you don't understand why everyone around you isn't bursting at the seems to talk about these issues that make your blood boil.
- Bargaining — You're ready to hop on the next plane and change the world... if you only knew what to do. You constantly ask God why He would let this happen and beg Him to change it.
- Depression — You are overwhelmed by the enormity of the situation and feel helpless to change anything.
- Acceptance — Then one day it all hits you. What you are doing by adopting a child into your family is a picture of what God has done for us. You realize that adoption isn't just adding a kid to your family. Adoption is how God adds us to His family. And that is exactly what you want to tell the world because being part of God's family is truly forever.
"But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son... so that we might receive adoption as sons. And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!” So you are no longer a slave, but a son, and if a son, then an heir through God." - Galatians 4:4-7