Does My Adopted Child Need to Live My Religion?

Your adopted children, especially if they are older, might have developed their own opinions of God already.

Barry Farmer July 30, 2018
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Religion seems to be the foundation of adoption for many people, reaching back to biblical times with the story of Moses. Religious organizations today are still heavily involved in foster care and the adoption world domestically and internationally. Personally, I’m not a very “religious” person. I consider myself more spiritual in a way. I’m someone who believes in God, but my beliefs are based on principles of the Laws of Attraction. If I put out good vibes and energy into the world, then it will return to me in positive ways throughout my life. I practice these principles daily by referring to the to the book series called The Secret. If you haven’t read it, check it out. If you aren’t a big book reader, check out the documentary on Netflix!

ANYWAY!

A couple of weeks ago, one of my sons came to me to ask if I believe in God. Having three boys, these extremely random questions are typical in my household. They happen daily, and when they are coming from three different directions back to back, as a single father, it can really be exhausting! There is no cop out either. I can’t just say “Go ask your mother,” and I guess it would be rude of me to just sit there and not engage, huh? Getting back on track, I replied: “Yes, I do.” My curiosity began to kick in just as much as his, so I asked him the same question. His response was somewhat hesitant. As I sat in my chair, waiting for him to answer, I could tell he was trying to convince himself to say “Yes.” Before he could answer, I told him “It’s okay if you don’t. I won’t be upset with you.” I noticed the relief of being free of judgment appear on his face. Poor kid. He must have thought I would disown him if he wasn’t a “believer.”

The conversation continued, and I asked what did he believe. His answer was so honest, pure, and innocent. He replied, “Dad, I really don’t know what to believe! How can I believe in someone I can’t see?” What could I I say? He wanted “proof.” Sure, I could have gone into my “God is all around you and in your heart; he watches over you everyday” speech. But I know my son. That just wasn’t going to be enough for him. So I asked him, “What kind of proof do you need?” He said to me, “Dad, I just want to see his face. I want proof that heaven exists. My response was to him was the following:  “Unfortunately kid, you won’t get those answers until you die, then you will know all.”

We continued to talk, I asked him what knowledge he had about other religions and did he know about atheism? He had never heard of the term before, so I began to describe it to him. We also Googled it for more information. He expressed to me that the term kind of explained how he was feeling about God at the time, but he didn’t outright claim to be an atheist after doing a little research. I guess he’s leaving his options open. One thing I know is I always told myself I’d never push my children away because they didn’t share my religious beliefs. If I’m being totally honest, I don’t feel it’s my place to tell my children what religion to practice. The reason I say this would be attributed to the fact that I believe my own relationship with God is between me and him only. It’s a belief I started and maintained on my own, no one forced to believe, why would I force my own children?

The only requirement I have for my sons is to wake up every day and to value their lives. To value others lives, to treat humans with respect, be a man of good character. A man with morals and principles who has integrity and does not discriminate against others who appear differently than him or believe differently than he does. Often, when I see or hear someone passing judgment on others beliefs or what not, I continually say, “What they believe has absolutely nothing to do with me. Someone else believing different than me doesn’t weaken my faith. Someone not believing at all doesn’t affect the relationship that I have established with God.” So if my son chooses not to believe, I will not be bashing him with Hail Marys and holy oil, telling him his soul will be lost. I’ll be embracing him as I always do.

Amen.

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Barry Farmer

Barry Farmer is a Native of Richmond, Virginia. He grew up in kinship care with his grandmother from ages 5-18. For the last 15 years, he's devoted his life to working inside and outside the classroom with youth and their families. At age 20, Barry became a foster father with a local therapeutic agency to further help youth within his community. At age 22 he adopted his oldest son. Three years later, Barry's two younger sons were placed in his home, making him a proud father of three amazing young men. Today, as a single father, Barry acts as one of the spokesmen for Foster Care Adoption Advocate, motivational speaker to foster and adoptive families, mentor, host of The Foster Care & Adoption Life Web-Series/Podcast, and creator/administrator of the online support group for foster care and adoptive families. “Get Connected, Stay Connected”


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