Being a female millennial, I grew up watching the internet grow. While one can find a plethora of strange and sometimes useless information on the internet, they can also reach out or give incredible advice to niche groups of people. One can easily search “adoption” and find an overwhelming amount of information and support. However, much of this advice and support is often catering to a female audience. While this is great for adoptive moms, finding that “dad” support is few and far between for adoptive dads.
In honor of Father’s Day, I sat down with my favorite adoptive dad, my husband, the one but not only Michael Jordan (Nope. Not that one. Not that one either). Here is some information on what it’s like being an adoptive father, going through the adoption process, and being the greatest of all time (Ok. I’ll stop. I promise).
1. What were your thoughts on adoption before you were part of an adoption journey?
“It was pretty normal in my life. I knew a lot of people who were adopted. I didn’t have a lot of knowledge. I thought it was an honorable thing to do. I guess beforehand I did not understand how anyone could place their kid for adoption. However, when I got into it, I realized it was one of the bravest things someone could do in that circumstance. I’ve learned a ton.”
2. Adoption sort of “happened” to us. I called you and told you we had been asked to adopt. What were your immediate thoughts that day?
“Fear. Could I love an adopted child as much as my biological child? Obviously, yes, I know now. Finances. Mostly excitement. With the first, we had generally spoken about adoption, but had wanted to foster teenagers. So, it was kind of in my head but when it was actually happening, it was fear—but good fear not knowing what was next. I knew that we would see it through. With the second adoption, I was so unsure due to finances. However, I thought about it and realized there was no way we could not do it. I wanted our daughter to have someone who looked like her and a companion in the adoption experience.”
3. What was the most surprising part of the adoption process?
“I was surprised at how unethical it can be if you don’t do it right. We worked hard to make sure we did all the right things. I was surprised at how much goes into the process and getting licensed. The finances were surprising. I knew it was a lot but what the money goes towards is a lot to take in. It was also surprising how many people talk about adopting but never pursue it. People will praise you for adopting but say that they could never do it. Why?”
4. What was the hardest part of the adoption process?
“When we adopted our daughter, she was in foster care first. So visiting and then leaving was super hard. We had to fight to get foster care to even recognize us as options. There was also the fear after placement but before finalization that something would happen and we would somehow lose them. Raising a kid of a different race is hard because I cannot in any way teach them how to be that race. However, it is up to me to help them understand who they are. It is awkward sometimes to have to explain all the time why we have kids of a different race because we are protective of their stories. We also had to adjust the way we taught our biological kids about race because we realized we couldn’t just teach them how to ‘not be racist’ but how to be ‘anti-racist.’ We should have always done that, but adopting two children of color opened our eyes to how much more we should be doing.”
5. What is the biggest lesson you have learned about adoption?
“The biggest lesson is to trust the process. There is so much to be impatient about and I did not trust the process at all. I also learned about the many reasons people place their child and the value of open adoption. There is a lot of fear and stereotypes there that you have to squash. You learn that your opinion is not always valid. By adopting I have also learned that it is largely nature vs. nurture. I have to parent each child differently. Our kids are so different and we have to reward and discipline them differently.”
6. What advice would you give new adoptive fathers?
“It was mentally tough. There is not a lot of support for men in the process. However, it’s easy to forget to be a team with your partner in the process. If I didn’t have you involved, it wouldn’t have worked. Don’t pursue adoption unless it is what you both want. You are never ‘ready’ for kids, but adoption requires way more education, especially in transracial adoption.
7. Would you adopt again?
“Absolutely. By adopting, we realized how many kids there are that actually need homes. Now that we have been through the process, we have a bit more confidence in the process. I don’t know that we would pursue infant adoption, but a child more at the age of our children or a little younger. Not quite a teen, but not in diapers. I would do emergency or respite foster care for sure once the kids are a bit older. We have a heart for young adults as well and I love helping them if they have aged out or don’t have family support.”
Being married to the GOAT, I would have to say I agree thoroughly with many of his answers. He is a fantastic father and has never failed to go along for the ride. Being a part of open adoption, there have been a lot of unknowns. He has learned with me and has been an incredible support through the process. My hope is that more support will be provided for fathers in the adoption process so that they can feel more prepared and educated.