Being a dad is one of the most important things that you can do in your life. There is nothing more joyous than seeing another human being blossom, knowing that you have given them everything you can to make them healthy and happy. You get a sense of pride and satisfaction, but it transcends that – being a father is not about you, but about someone that you love selflessly.
If you and your wife are considering adopting a child, you want that experience to be exactly the same. Children, whether they are adopted or not, need an environment that supports and encourages them. You need to make them feel accepted, loved and secure – while giving them the structure and limits that will teach them to be responsible and ultimately to have respect. As a father, you need to be a friend, an educator and someone who understands and shares your child’s emotions. In an ideal world, an adopted child should be a child who happens to be adopted, not someone different.
However, being an adoptive dad has unique challenges – and those challenges start before you ever see your adopted child. Too many adoptions happen for all the wrong reasons – you should adopt because you want to adopt, not because it is a substitute for something else. Often, when couples find out that they cannot have a child, starting an adoption process is actually part of grieving about their loss – deep down, it is a form of denial and bargaining. For this reason, if you find yourself in this position, you may want to wait until you have become reconciled to not being able to have a child and can contemplate adoption on its own merits before you move forward.
Once you do adopt, you are going to face other challenges. Of course, you will be overwhelmed with joy by the little bundle who has arrived, but you may feel that somehow you have not earned the right to be a dad. Of course, you have, but feeling that you haven’t can have significant consequences. Often, parents who are unable to have a child naturally lack self-esteem, and the experience of having an adopted child only intensifies this. As a result, you may feel that you do not have the right to act as a parent – but you do.
As you bring up your adopted child, keep remembering that you have a right to parent, particularly if you have made an open adoption – where your child knows their birth parents. Children can be cruel, and will often do things such as threaten to talk to their “real parents” when they want to get their own way. Of course, this is going to hurt, and may make you feel all those doubts all over again. However, you need to assert yourself, otherwise your child may sense weakness and use this to manipulate you. Of course, this is just natural behavior in the development of a child.