Most families seem to have at least one kid who is the deep thinker. You know, the child who says crazy things like: “Shouldn’t we pray for Satan, too?”
For us, that’s William. He’s the 5-year-old, blue-eyed, curly-haired version of that French “Thinker” statue, except he’s bouncing off walls, jumping off couches and climbing up trees — doing his best to save the world in his muscular Spiderman costume. He would have broken that iconic statue, and out-thought it in the process.
So, it really didn’t surprise my wife and I when he recently hopped in our bed on a lazy Saturday morning and started describing his latest wild dream. It had all the things that make up a typical child’s dream – animals and toys and food and such – but this one was a bit different.
“Dad, I dreamed about my birth mom,” he said matter-of-factly.
We have three adopted children, and all of them know about their background, but William ponders his origins more than the other two, combined. That’s just his nature. He thinks a lot, about everything. Sometimes his questions are substantive. (“Why did God create the earth?) And other times they’re simply humorous. (“What was Yoda’s first name?”)
William wasn’t troubled by his dream, although he seemed to realize it was different than dreaming about, say, elephants.
He simply desired what any adopted child would have wanted in that moment — affirmation. He is not alone. It is natural for adopted children to ask as they grow older: Why did you adopt me?
Thankfully, the days of keeping a child’s adoption a secret are long gone. A 2007 government survey of 2,000 families found that 97 percent of adopted children ages 5 and older knew they were adopted.
We introduced William to his adoption story before he could form sentences, and as he grows older, we will add more details. No, he doesn’t fully comprehend it now, but he eventually will.
Our conversation with him that Saturday morning lasted all of about 30 seconds, but we made three quick points:
God put you in our home. The sovereignty of God should form the foundation of any faith-based adoption story. William learned early that God made him. Then he learned that God loved him. Now he’s learning that God has a plan for him. This is what I tell him: “Long before you were born, we were praying for another child. And, then, one day in 2011, we got a phone call from a lady who said: ‘There’s a handsome sweet baby who needs a home!’” (OK, so that is a paraphrase.) It wasn’t luck or chance that brought William to our home. God planned it (Jeremiah 29:11, Proverbs 16:9).
Your birth mom put you in our home. And we met her. She wanted a family who believed what she believed, who liked the things that she liked, and who would fill the home with love. She chose us. That doesn’t make us special, though. It simply makes us blessed. A full 68 percent of adoptive families have had post-adoption contact with the birth family, according to that 2007 government survey. Such contact is often beneficial, even if rarely easy. As William grows up I can honestly tell him: Your birth mom was a hero. She loved you. And she wanted us to be your parents.
We love you. William, of course, knows this. When he was three he told me every single night with a huge smile, “Daddy, we’re buddies.” When he was four he prayed, “Dear God, thank-you for my family – and the solar system.” (I told you he said crazy things, didn’t I?) Now, at five, he gives me a tight hug at bedtime, accompanied by a fist-bump, followed by a simple, “I love you, Daddy.” We talk about the day’s events: how he arrested the villain in the living room and how he caught the winning touchdown pass in the front yard (all in his imagination, of course). I then tell him that I love him, and we exchange good-night thumbs up before I close the door. Not once during his short life have I thought of him as my “adopted son.” No, he’s simply my son – and I wouldn’t have it any other way.
Michael Foust is an editor and writer who blogs about parenting and fatherhood. He loves his family and also really likes salted, unshelled peanuts at minor league baseball games. Interested in re-posting this in your publication or on your blog? Send him an email: michaelfoust (at) gmail.com. Also, check out the video section.