Over the years, I’ve had a lot of people call or email me asking how I knew adoption was right for us. Their questions are sincere as they try to figure out their own future with children. Is adoption the path they should take? When I’m asked this, I’m always reminded of a very uncomfortable experience I had many years ago.

I was fairly new to the city and was getting together with a group of women for the first time. I was excited to have been invited to a night out and was really having a good time. Someone asked me about my daughter and about our adoption process. Her story is one of the most beautiful experiences I’ve ever lived, so I was pretty passionate about telling it. At first I was afraid I was talking too much until I saw that one by one the women stopped their side conversations and began listening to me. I had their full attention. They were totally invested in this story and I spared no detail. As I told our experience, I relived it and my heart felt overwhelmed with such love and gratitude for my daughter and her birth mother. Truly we had lived a divine miracle and I felt so incredibly blessed. I knew others in that room had been experiencing some infertility problems and may be considering adoption. I had their own stories in mind, as well, as I shared what adoption could look like if they too decided it was their path to bring a family together. Others there had tears in their eyes. We all felt so much love.

Or, at least I thought we did.

“I could never adopt,” the woman sitting next to me matter-of-factly declared. That sense of love that was so thick in the room quickly vanished. I was totally caught off guard and as I looked around I knew I wasn’t the only one. Eyes wide and mouths gaped open, we were in shock that someone would say something the way she did, right after someone had just poured their heart out about the joy of adoption and how their family came to be.

It was silent. No one knew what to say. Or, maybe they were waiting for me. In a matter of seconds, I went from shock to pain to anger to shock again. I don’t like confrontation and I certainly didn’t want to offend anyone, but I had to follow up somehow.

“Well, it’s a good thing you know that,” I slowly sputtered out.

“Sorry,” she continued, “I mean, I just couldn’t. I couldn’t love that child the same as my own.”

Oh man, this was getting worse and worse. As I listened, my heart ached. She continued, “I grew up with a lot of foster kids in my house. My parents always put them before us, and I would never do that to my kids.” Ok, so at least now I knew where she was coming from. She had past hurt that had, unfortunately, given her a bad taste for foster care and adoption. It’s terribly unfortunate, but at least I now got where she was coming from.

This time much more confidently I repeated my statement and then explained. “Seriously though, if you know that’s how you feel, then you’ll never be in a situation where you’ll feel the need to choose.” And then maybe I shouldn’t have, but I said it. “And, how tragic it would be for a child if someone took them into their home, then realized what you already seem to know for yourself . . . and then sent them away. Adoption isn’t for everyone, and it’s good that you know that for yourself. But I do believe that most people find that that love comes very naturally, just as it would for a biological child. It may not be immediate because you haven’t had those months of bonding during a pregnancy, but it comes. It came extremely naturally for me.”

Love in the room = restored. Big sigh of relief.

When it comes to adoption, how do you know if it’s right for you? For some, you’ll know immediately that it’s what you want. For others, they may need more time to think it over. But here’s the thing: adoption isn’t for everyone. It’s not. And that’s ok. It really is. If adoption isn’t right for you, you shouldn’t feel bad or guilty about it. Because if it’s wrong but you do it anyway, then you have the potential to severely hurt a child and no one wants that.

Let me just say, if “love” is the issue, and thinking you can’t love someone who is not biologically yours, I’d reexamine the issue. I have known people with the same concern only to find their bonds quite secure. The picture of love I have seen in their homes was real. Children who look different from each other, had different skin color, different heritage, different learning styles, sometimes even a different language, all become family. And when their children wept from pain, so did their mommy and daddy. And when their kids succeeded, they all cheered together as a family. I’m not attempting to convince anyone that adoption is the way to go. Rather to take a moment and examine the real issue. If love is in your heart, and love is what you want to give, love is always what you’ll get. That’s family.