As Father’s Day approaches, I decided to interview an adoptive father (who happens to be my husband), Shane Hilton, to learn more about what adoption means to him. Shane is the father of four children through adoption, ages 2-8. He has also fostered others. His father is also an adoptee, as well as several of his nieces and nephews. Shane is an electrical engineer residing in Tempe, Arizona. He loves running, the outdoors, and playing with his kids.

Q: How would you describe what adoption means to you as an adoptive father? Which words would you use?

A: Responsibility, Humility, Acceptance, and Love.

Q: What does responsibility have to do with adoption?

A: Most every parent feels a great sense of responsibility in bringing a son or daughter home. When I brought my first child home, I felt ill-prepared in my capabilities as a parent. I had to learn to trust myself and my judgment, even though I was inexperienced. I felt an inherent responsibility to love my child and give him every opportunity for success in his life. While many parents feel entrusted by God to care for one of His children, I felt a heightened responsibility due to the immense trust that his birth mother had given me in placing her child with us. With each of our four children, I have felt a unique sense of responsibility as their father because of the individual circumstances that brought them to my family.

Q: In what way has adoption humbled you?

A: Making the decision to grow my family through adoption required me to accept that my perception of how my family should come together was narrow and self-centered. I had grown up with an unfounded confidence in my own vision of what the right choice for myself and everyone else should be, and I was quick to judge others based on the tiny part of their lives that I had insight into. In deciding to adopt, I had to concede that God knew better than I did about what would be the best path for my family. I had to relinquish control of my future and turn it over to Him, believing that He would orchestrate the individual miracles that brought each of my children to my family

Q: Has adoption made you more accepting of others? Tell us about it.

A: One of the things that I am most grateful for, among the experiences I have had in adopting my children, is the opportunity to see into the lives of their birth family members and the diverse backgrounds that they come from. As my love for each of my children grew, it seemed to automatically extend to their biological families. In getting to know the backgrounds of the amazing families that share their DNA, I have been able to have a more open mind in my interactions with others in my day-to-day life.

Q: What has adoption taught you about love?

A: While it may seem cliché to say that adoption has taught me more about what love truly means, it would be a glaring omission if I did not include it in this list. As I moved through life, I first learned to love my immediate family. That progressed to loving my extended family and friends. I had to learn to trust others and give them the benefit of the doubt, which has been difficult for me. As I became an uncle to my siblings’ children, and later to the wonderful nieces and nephews that my wife brought to my family, I learned that I could love children that did not have my genes. One of the great opportunities that helped prepare me for adoption and foster care was working for minimum wage in a crisis nursery with Megan before we had children of our own through adoption. This job brought me in contact with children from a vast variety of backgrounds that I learned to love in trying to focus on meeting their immediate needs. I learned that I could love other people solely based on the fact that they are human beings and children of the same God, rather than on the life choices they make or the beliefs they share with me.

Are you an adoptive dad? Tell us what words you would use to describe what adoption means to you.