|Courtesy: Shonya Klein.|
Shonya and her husband grew their family of four to a family of eight through adoption.
I'm thrilled to have Shonya share what she's learned about adoption over the past 10-years.
1. Adoption has been a tool the Lord has used to grow me in ways I never would've expected.
Adopting two sons and two daughters has given me the opportunity to step outside my comfort zone like nothing else every has.
I learned to trust the Lord to provide rather than rely on myself -- financially, in parenting, in loving others, endurance in the waiting season -- you name it.
I have had the opportunity to interact with people who are different from me in the way they think, and in the way they live.
And I've learned that they are people, just as I am.
We really aren't so different.
Through adoption, I'm learning more of what it means to love.
I'm learning to tap into the well of love the Lord has for me and share it with others; not in my own strength, but in His.
Adoptee blogs and online adoption groups can be scary and make me think we've done a terrible thing -- that we've ruined our children's lives by bringing them into our family.
I think there are things to learn from these resources, but I've learned to take them with a "grain of salt," consider their worldview, and be sure to examine their views through the lens of my own worldview.
Some people we know have expressed concerns about us adopting.
"You don't know what you're getting," they tell us while predicting rebellion for our children and turmoil for our family.
We've been scorned by some who think adopting is a way of showing off or doing deeds in a way that they'll be seen by men.
We've learned to look to the Lord for our strength in the face of disagreement.
Yes, "adopted" is a past-tense verb, but parenting a child who was adopted is very much a present and ongoing verb (let's scrub off those old grammar studies -- is it the present perfect progressive verb tense that says an action has been going on, is currently taking place and will continue in the future?).
We have learned the importance of maintaining a life book for our children to help answer their questions about how they came to be a part of our family.
We have learned to communicate with our children's birth parents in our open adoptions, and to put forth the effort to stay in contact through letters, phone calls, Facebook and visits to nurture their relationships.
Adoption has brought different gifts and personalities -- and even challenges -- than a biological family, and we are learning how to best develop, equip, and "train them in the way they should go."
As two of our children have different racial backgrounds from my husband and me, we have had the opportunity to learn how to properly care for their black skin and hair.
We are learning about exposure to their genetic culture and how to prepare them to live as black men and women in society.
Before adopting, I planned to parent any children through adoption just like I parent our biological children, but I've learned it's not just like raising a biological child.
In many ways, it's the same -- yes.
But there is an additional layer, and I am learning how to navigate it.
Most of all, I've learned that adoption is about growing our hearts and our family, and I would do it all over again in a heartbeat.