5 Things Adoption/Foster Care Did to Our Daughters
“What about my biological children?”—a common refrain from those considering adoption.
“What about birth order?”
“What about family dynamics?”
“How will my biological children respond?”
The fears are palpable, based upon both realistic and conjured concerns.
Ami and I pondered foster care and adoption with three young daughters. They must’ve been around 10, 11, and 15 at the time, and we had many of these same concerns which drove us to impose restrictions. We wouldn’t take boys with sexual issues.
Outside of that, we’d trust in who the Lord would send…never realizing for a second, the journey He was about to take us on.
I never anticipated what adoption would do to my daughters.
1. It blessed them.
As much as I cannot fathom life without my sons, my daughters feel the same regarding their brothers.
Shortly after becoming a certified foster family, I deployed to Iraq. Two weeks later, I checked my email to see a message from Ami in my inbox. I clicked on it and was greeted by the dark, serious eyes of a little brown guy, peering out at me from the folds of a blanket in my wife’s arms.
“This is your son,” the Holy Spirit whispered.
True to His word, the Lord had brought him, and he never left, later becoming my first son. The Lord sent others, 20 or so in all, slowly, steadily. Some stayed for a few months, some a few weeks, a handful for as short as a weekend or a few days.
Others never left. Six in all. My sons.
My daughter’s brothers.
Sure, they have the same issues as any siblings. The boys eat all their food, sometimes in the middle of the night. They get in their stuff. They argue with them, annoy them, get on their nerves.
As their brothers are all system kids, they have some other issues, perhaps not as common.
My daughters have been stolen from, all of them, repeatedly. They’ve witnessed turmoil that they’d likely have never witnessed, been exposed to things they’d likely have never been exposed to…all that comes along with kids from the system.
Yet, they unanimously proclaim the blessings of their brothers. They embrace them, cherish them, love them. They’ve never once expressed, at least openly, any regret in having them.
From my oldest daughter:
“There is a reason I moved out as soon as I turned 18, but only moved a fourth of the mile down the road. I deeply love them all, but dear Lord I don’t know how mom keeps her sanity.”
“Without them I would have never had to teach my 2 yr old she doesn’t have a ‘hog’ [our family word for male genitalia].”
And there’s this, “If the sock looks hard, use a glove to pick it up…”
You can see that it also blessed them with a sense of humor!
2. It united us as a family.
Early on, we made adoption and foster care our family’s ministry.
Our daughters became my wife’s right hand in caring for our boys. They changed diapers, wiped butts, learned to deal with boy issues to include guns, swords, “hogs”, and such.
We made decisions as a family, openly discussed each situation as it arose. As I was deploying with regularity, my daughters were indispensable in caring for them.
My sons and the other kids we’ve fostered became the rallying cry of our family, the nexus of our call. The plight of the orphan united us in action in a way that few other things could’ve.
They became so intertwined into the fabric of our existence that I just cannot even imagine how dull our life might’ve been without them.
3. It taught them selflessness.
They’ve gone without, my daughters.
Seeing the system up close and personal, seeing the affliction wrought by the sins of men, impressed upon my daughters that it wasn’t all about them. And they were asked to sacrifice, repeatedly.
The boys and the others consume(d) vast resources of time, money, and emotional energy. With up to ten in house at a time, my daughters certainly received much less attention than they would’ve otherwise…and they’re better for it.
One incident highlighted this.
After several years, I decided ‘we’ needed a ‘break’ from fostering. Everyone agreed, sort of. That night we got the call. Two boys were at the DCS office with nowhere to go. In anger I declared, “No, absolutely not! We knew this would happen.”
Later that night, they were still there so I reluctantly allowed them to come to our home to spend a night or two until DCS could find a permanent placement. One night became two and my frustration grew.
In desperation, I sought out my two younger daughters.
“You know you’ll have to move back in together,” I appealed to them, as they’d recently just gotten their own room after years of cohabitating.
“Dad, we already did,” they chorused.
“Yes, these boys need a home.” I swallowed a lump and made a call.
Years later, I call these two boys sons.
4. It demonstrated Christlikeness.
Other than my wife, I’ve no more urgent mission field than my children.
The Psalmist reminds us that, “Like arrows in the hands of a warrior are the children of one’s youth.” (Psalm 127:4) Children are not a hindrance or a nuisance. Children are a blessing, “a heritage from the LORD.” (v.3)
I really have nothing but my legacy.
Immediately following my death, the world will begin the process of forgetting all about me, covering up any trace of my existence. Only in the eternal kingdom work of the Lord, do I find any perseverance of my existence.
The Lord entrusts us with our children and commands us to make disciples of them, to teach them, to raise them up in the way of the Lord that when they are older they will not depart from it. (Deuteronomy 6:7-8, Proverbs 22:6) This is the primary design for the spread of the faith, the propagation of the Gospel and since becoming a Christian some years ago, I’ve sought to honor this call.
Congruence between word and deed is the most effective method to proclaim. Speak the Gospel. Live the Gospel. Pray for the Holy Spirit to convict.
As I’ve sought to teach my daughters, perhaps nothing has better proclaimed Christ and Him crucified than adoption.
Adoption enabled me to proclaim far beyond my sanctification.
As an adult convert, I carried intense baggage into my walk and yes, the Lord has faithfully delivered me from affliction after affliction over the course of these years. Yet, adoption displayed for my daughters the love of the Lord Jesus in a way that I never could of my own regard, despite my deep flaws.
Perhaps nothing we’ve done, my wife and I, has demonstrated better the glorious riches of the grace of our Lord Jesus than our family’s willingness to take one born of another, declare them our own, and lavish love upon them.
5. It inspired them.
At least two of my daughters desire to adopt, maybe all three. One of them is actively taking steps to establish a home/ministry for older foster kids. All of them have intensely selfless hearts and a love for the downtrodden and oppressed, particularly the orphan.
I can think of no greater testimony than this.
Author - Founder
Soldier, Pastor, Author – Bradford stays busy, with his wife Ami, raising their 9 children, serving the nation, pastoring, preaching, and writing books (#3 is due out October ’17).
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