Typically, moms are the centerpiece of most families. They put their family first before themselves. Their love and devotion are endless. But what about the fathers?
As a father that is about to adopt, you may be having a bit of anxiety, concern, and worry. “Would I love the child like it was my own?” “Are we prepared financially to feed, clothe, educate, provide medical insurance, and take on more financial responsibilities?” “We don’t know how this child is going to turn out.” These questions and more are perfectly legitimate whether or not you’re a biological father or adoptive father. Think of how amazing it will be to see the many firsts your son or daughter will experience. As an adoptive parent, you give so much of yourself. The returns are much greater.
Parents to need to spend a lot of time preparing before they adopt their child. Dads, here’s a few things to consider before taking the next step:
- Take parenting classes.
- Communicate your feelings about fatherhood openly with your spouse.
- Read and research about parenting.
- Pack a baby-readiness bag.
- Talk with your employer. You may have to leave immediately once you get the call that your child has been born or is ready to be adopted.
- Prepare your family.
Several years ago, I met a man (I’ll call him Rick) while I was speaking to a civic
organization about adoption. After I spoke, he came up to me with tears in his eyes and told me his story about adopting his daughter over 30 years ago. He explained how much joy his newborn daughter had brought to his family. When Rick and his wife got the call that “the stork was coming,” they had not even put the crib together. It was sitting in a box in the corner of the nursery. Rick didn’t get around to putting it together. In fact, they didn’t even have a baby-readiness bag together. They drove two hours to finally meet their daughter. On the way, they rushed into a store and bought everything they thought they would need to get their daughter home.
I asked Rick about what emotions he felt when his daughter was placed in his arms for the first time. He had the biggest smile on his face when he told me it was the best moment of his life. His heart was instantly filled with love and joy. Rick knew there was an instant bond when his daughter looked at him for the first time. After all the paperwork was complete, it was time to take their baby home. As they turned into their driveway, they saw many cars. They walked into their home and were greeted by family. The family had a surprise baby shower for them. To their surprise, the nursery was filled with everything their daughter would need. The crib had been assembled and had beautiful blankets placed in it.
I asked Rick if he and his wife ever considered adopting another child. He smiled and said no. He wanted to give someone else the opportunity to adopt and experience what he had: pure love and joy. Now that’s love!
Recently I interviewed Pastor Phil. Pastor Phil’s ministry is in Eastern North Carolina.
This is a true story about his experience when he adopted a young girl named Sara. It is a story about faith, a father’s love for his daughter, and how Sara’s life touched the hearts of many.
Sara was taken out of her home at the age of 2. She had been beaten, sexually abused, and emotionally abused. She was locked in a dark closet for days at a time and only given bread and water. This cruel and horrible act was supposed to teach Sara about potty training.
Pastor Phil had met Sara’s biological mother and had tried to minister to her. She had just gotten out of jail. He also went to court for three years on Sara’s behalf. He was not expecting to adopt Sara. At the end of three years, Sara was sent to her biological father’s home in Florida. He had done nothing for Sara in five years, but they needed to find a home for Sara. Sara’s biological father said he would take her.
Sara stayed with her father for six months. The abuse continued. The courts in North Carolina sent for Sara to come back. Sara’s biological father had been sent to prison for murder on an unrelated conviction.
The North Carolina court placed Sara in the foster care system. The family that fostered Sara couldn’t do anything with her and she would be heading to an orphanage. Between Sara’s mother and stepfather, her father, and four foster homes, Sara seemed to be in a hopeless situation. The court asked Pastor Phil if he would consider taking Sara. He and his wife Joyce knew Sara needed to have a chance at a better life and decided to get certified to foster Sara. This was Sara’s last chance and home number seven.
A meeting was arranged for Sara, Pastor Phil, and Joyce to see how they would get along. When Sara saw Pastor Phil, her eyes lit up and she jumped in Pastor Phil’s lap and said “big daddy won’t let anything happen to me.” It was instant bonding. Sara wanted to be with Pastor Phil and Joyce. Social Services decided they could foster to adopt Sara. Pastor Phil and Joyce told Social Services that they could not afford health insurance for Sara. Sara had many facial issues from her years of abuse that would require several surgeries. Social Services gave Sara insurance. Sara was fully adopted within six months.
Pastor Phil described the first few weeks of Sara’s homecoming as eye-opening. Everything Sara owned was in a trash bag. Her clothes were either too small or ripped. He had never been with a child that had been abused at such a young age. But Sara trusted her mom, dad, and two brothers: Adam and Will. Pastor Phil felt assured that everything would be alright. Sara felt safe, loved, and trusted her new family.
Sara started counseling at the age of 5. It was determined that she had about a four or five-year delay. They didn’t know that she actually had white matter in her brain because of the early abuse. Sara handled it quite well despite her young age. With the multiple facial issues Sara suffered, Pastor Phil knew they needed to seek medical help. Little did they know just how extensive her injuries really were. Sara’s face was flat, the cartilage in Sara’s nose was pushed into her skull. Her face had stopped growing and her medical team needed to find a way to slide her jaw forward to give her a nose. It took from age 12 to 17 to prepare her for these surgeries.
Tragically, at the age of 10, the only mother Sara really knew died. Joyce suffered from a bad heart and a stroke took her life. Pastor Phil single-handedly continued to care for Sara and her two brothers.
Sometime later, Pastor Phil met then married Susan. Susan and Sara hit it off right from the beginning. Susan would sing Sara to sleep at night and get up if she cried in the middle of the night. Susan adored Sara and Sara adored Susan. This was now momma number eight for Sara.
Growing up, Sara was with Pastor Philall the time. She was Pastor Phil’scopilot. Sara would help out at the church, graduate from high school, volunteer to work with children, got a job working part-time, and started her own jewelry business. Everyone loved Sara. Her heart was filled with kindness and love. Sara was sweet and loveable. Most of all, she loved God. But, Pastor Phil was always looking over his shoulder.
Sara’s stepfather had been released from jail and had been threatening Pastor Phil. How could Pastor Phil forgive the man that hurt his daughter? During a sermon at church, Pastor Phil forgave his daughter’s abuser—so did Sara. That’s when the healing started. God had put it all together.
At about the age of 25, Sara developed problems with her stomach. She also developed a lump under her arm. The doctors thought it was a cyst and sent her to the Cancer Center to have it checked out. Shockingly, the doctors discovered Sara had Stage 4 cancer.
Cancer had spread throughout Sara’s body at about the age of 27. When she was in the hospital, Sara was never alone. The nurses truly loved Sara. She would pass out candy to each of them. Ironically, Susan had developed blood clots in her lungs and had been admitted to the same Cancer Center. As you can imagine, Pastor Phil had his hands full between Susan and Sara. At one point, the doctors told Pastor Phil that his wife or daughter could die at any time. Both were in critical situations.
Pastor Phil had the task of asking Sara the really tough questions. Do you want to be buried or cremated? Who do you want to do the eulogy? Sara said she wanted him to do the eulogy and to be cremated. He asked if there was anything else she wanted. She said she wanted to see her half sister. Pastor Phil said he would see what he could do. In the back of his mind, he was thinking about the stepfather. He was the one that had been making threats to Pastor Phil. With God’s help, Pastor Phil was able to get in touch with Sara’s sister, but he needed to get her to see Sara quickly since she was slipping away.
Sara’s sister came to the Hospice House where Sara had been moved. Pastor Philtook the sister’s baby so they could have some time together. Her sister sat on the edge of the bed and held Sara’s hand. Sara’s nieces sang Miley Cyrus’ song “The Climb” from Hannah Montana: The Movie. The song ends:
There’s always gonna be another mountain
I’m always gonna wanna make it move
Always gonna be an uphill battle
Sometimes you’re gonna have to lose
Ain’t about how fast I get there
Ain’t about what’s waiting on the other side
It’s the climb
Keep on moving, keep climbing
Keep the faith, baby
It’s all about, it’s all about the climb
Keep your faith, keep your faith
It wasn’t long after her visit with her sister that Sara peacefully slipped away surrounded by her family. She was 27 years old.
From a father’s perspective, these words couldn’t ring more true. It is really about the climb. You have to keep moving because you don’t know what is on the other side.
When I asked Pastor Phil what advice he had for prospective fathers, he said you need to pray. Don’t go in blindly. You don’t know what you’re getting into. Pastor Phil has no regrets at all. He also emphasized types of love. There is brotherly love, family love, love between a man and a woman, and agape love. Agape love (God’s love) is when you expect nothing in return. Pastor Phil said his whole family has agape love and how Sara blessed not only his family but everyone who knew Sara. That’s what kept Pastor Phil going. Pastor Phil also said to learn to be comfortable with being uncomfortable. Learn how to function in their dysfunction. Your life is going to be reaching into their darkness and pulling out their light. If you can’t do that, don’t do it.
The Lazarra Family
I’d like to share this video with you. It is the story by Rich Lazzara and how his life changed by being a father to the fatherless. He states that the need is great. Love each other through all of it. Mr. Lazzara also talks about how God’s presence lead him in many different directions to adopting three children.
Can you imagine a child growing up without loving parents? As an adoptee, I was blessed to having loving parents. It’s hard for me to imaging not being loved.
Do you think you are ready to be a father to the fatherless? Dad’s, we’d love to hear your story.
Diane Gray is passionate about adoption. Since finding her biological family after 50 years of searching, her life has truly changed for the better. After a fun and exciting career in broadcasting, Diane decided it was time for her to turn a dream into reality and opened her own bridal boutique. After over eight years in the bridal industry, she retired to focus her efforts on finding her biological family. She worked diligently with a search angel for over four years. Finally, she was able to meet her biological family and it changed her life forever. Since finding her biological family, she has published her debut book Faith, Hope and perseverance and dedicates her time to speaking to various organizations about adoption and hopes to inspire others. Diane is always ready to hear anyone’s adoption story whether they are trying to adopt, or a birth mother who relinquished their child or are searching for their long-lost family members. If you would like to tell her your story, email Diane Gray at [email protected]