Before we adopted our children, we were one in a million hopeful adoptive couples just waiting to grow our family. We signed on with an agency and didn’t put a limit on the age of children we were willing to adopt. The very first phone call we received was for an 18-month-old little girl and the possible placement of her 4-year-old sister. Within minutes, the agency had put me on the phone with the girls’ mother, and we were discussing her current situation and why she felt adoption was necessary. This was my very first experience speaking with a mom who was considering adoption, and it gave me a completely different point of view. I heard her—I mean really heard her—on that call. She was desperate, scared, and so fearful of making the wrong choice. She understood that this decision was forever, that she could never change her mind, and that the children she’d grown to love so much would be raised by other people. “My family is so mad at me for giving them up,” she said through sobs. She was afraid her family would disown her for trying to do what was right for her children. But still she was considering sacrificing all the support she had in the world to ensure her children’s safety. This situation remained a possibility for a few weeks, and then a family member stepped up to the plate and offered to parent her children for as long as it took for her to sort through all the roadblocks that stood in the way of her offering them a secure life.

You’re Not Giving Up

When you choose adoption for your non-infant child, you’re not giving up. You may have heard people say that “giving up” an older child for adoption is unfair to the child, but if you’re a parent considering adoption for your older child, you know that what you’re doing could only be done out of true sacrifice. If you’re considering placing your older child for adoption, surely it’s because you feel it’s the best thing you can do for your child in this moment. Serious thought needs to go into your decision, but don’t ever let anyone tell you you’re giving up.

Kate

I want to tell you a story about my friend Kate. Kate and her husband were a hopeful adoptive couple waiting to adopt for the first time. They had waited a long time and were worried they’d never become parents. One day, they received a phone call from their agency about the placement of a 4-year-old little girl and her 6-year-old brother. Neither Kate nor her husband felt prepared for a placement like this, but they decided to jump in and take a phone call with the children’s mom and dad anyway. The next few days were a whirlwind, because Kate and her husband got along instantly with the parents who were placing their children for adoption. The more Kate heard about these children, the more right the situation felt, and the more her heart broke for the children’s parents.

An unbelievably deep respect for those birth parents took root in those days. When Kate and her husband traveled hours to meet everyone, they hugged and cried and took the next week spending time as a big family, transitioning the children over to Kate and her husband’s care. It has now been six years since that placement occurred, and the family enjoys an open adoption. While there’s no way the placement of their children was easy on the birth parents, they are able to see their children thrive. The children are safe, protected, nurtured, nourished, and growing in ways that bring peace to their hearts. These parents never gave up their children. They gave up their parental rights in order to give them something more, and that level of sacrifice can only be achieved by parents who love their children more than they love themselves.

What to Do

If you’re in a situation where you feel you may need to place your older child for adoption, consider all your options. Look into rehab facilities, domestic abuse safe homes, or resources for parents to keep their children. There are numerous resources available, and many can be found simply by calling your local police station or by using an online search engine to look for family preservation nonprofits in your town. Even your local food bank director may know of some resources you can look into. Maybe your situation prevents these options from being possible for you. If so, my heart goes out to you and respects you for looking into other options for your children. Always remember, when you put your children’s needs above your own, you aren’t giving up—you’re giving more.