Adoption and Weddings vs. Family and Marriage

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It’s #NationalAdoptionMonth! Every year in November my heart gets a little happier as my Twitter feed lights up with stories of forever families. I mean, talk about something to be thankful for. Adoption is a written into our family’s story, and let me tell you, I had no idea how strong and lasting its impact would be.

Like Randall said in S3E1 of This Is Us,

“It has defined my life to be adopted. Even when I didn’t know it.”

I can truthfully say that adopting has in many ways defined my life, and I certainly didn’t know how much it would! I’ve come to realize that adoption Day is a little bit like a wedding day. 

The Big Day

Anticipation and excitement fill the days and weeks leading up to a wedding. You worry about the dress and the flowers, the music and the guest list. You have planned and budgeted, scrimped and splurged to make this one day a highlight of your life. And it should be!

But, after the vows are exchanged, the cake is cut and the flowers have wilted, there’s something far more valuable right in front of you: a marriage! And it takes time and energy, effort and sacrifice. And I don’t know about you, but I spent a lot more time worrying about the big day than I did preparing myself for all of the days to come. 

Adoption Day is much the same. This special day marks months — and many times, years — of preparation and anticipation. This is a day for which you’ve long prayed and hoped. More than once, you probably convinced yourself that it might not actually happen. But then, finally, it’s a sure thing! And so you make the signs and buy the matching shirts and invite all of your friends and family to celebrate this momentous occasion.

And, just like a wedding, it is momentous! And it’s life-changing. And it’s glorious! But it’s not the end of the story.

Adoption Wedding DayThe Power of Permanency

In child welfare lingo, there’s also this little thing called permanency. In foster care, each case has a “permanency goal.” There are “permanency hearings” and “permanency conferences.” Because the goal for all of us (right?!) is permanency. 

We need to know that we belong. That we have a set of people around us who will love us unconditionally. That our place and status as a member of this family will never change. 

And that is some weighty stuff that we many times take for granted. I took it for granted, too. As the adoptive parents-to-be, we were in many ways so focused on getting that piece of paper in hand (and rightly so), that we didn’t fully realize the lasting effects that adoption would have on our family.

But, after the court order was finalized and the paperwork was in our hands, I realized that there was something far more valuable right in front of us: a forever family. Adoption isn’t just something we did a few years ago and now our family can go on to life as usual. No. Adoption is forever a part of our story. We are forever changed by it. We are forever blessed by it. 

Re-writing the Story

As a kid, I didn’t dream of being a mom or having a house full of kids, like many little girls do. I certainly didn’t dream of adopting or fostering. But I knew that my place in my family was safe and secure. And, now here I am, a mom with a house full of kids and the desire to extend the same to others — whether they are my own forever kids or foster children who desperately need a sense of safety and security in their lives. 

I wonder about your story? Is it the way you would have written it? Or, like me, is it far more exciting and terrifying and fulfilling that you could have ever imagined? Is it focused on the one big day, or on all the days to come?

During this National Adoption Month, would you take time to rejoice in the forever families around you? And maybe, just maybe, consider opening your home to be a forever family for a child in need! I’d love to talk with you more about foster care and adoption. Just drop a comment below!

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Christy Swaringen
Raised in North Carolina, Christy loves sweet tea (think watery syrup), lightning bugs, and fall leaves. After ten years in South Texas, she now considers herself “from the Valley,” and can’t seem to get enough of mango raspas, afternoons by the pool and, of course, botanas. Her family has ridden the roller coaster that is foster and adoptive parenting for the last seven years and they are much the better for it. Christy loves doing life with her husband, Caleb, and their three kids. Nate (10) is a master storyteller, Kamila (7) is a curious fireball, and Eli (4) is always close on everyone's heels.

1 COMMENT

  1. Hi Christy! Our MOpS group in Brownsville is looking into having a meeting about foster care next year, probably in November. Would you be interested in being on a panel to talk with us about being a foster parent?

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