Adoption: expectations

Thanks to everyone who commented on my blog or wrote privately regarding my infant adoption questions last week.  I was grateful for each insight.  If I end up using your words, I’ll write you sometime in the next few months to tell you which words I’m using, then double-check what name (or pseudonym) you’d like used and if you’d like a blog link in the acknowledgements in the back of the book.

This week I’m looking for feedback from adoptive moms AND from step-moms.

~~First of all, I’d love for you to describe your initial feelings about adoption or step-mothering.  Were you excited?  Terrified? Sure of yourself?

~~Second— I’m interested in hearing briefly how your feelings have changed or your perception has deepened since then.


Also, just because they’re wonderful, here are some pictures of our grandbabies in all their sweetness.


Zechariah Ranger (above)  is 5 months old, and Ascher (below) is 3 months old.


  1. I am actually an adoptive mom and a step-mom. When becoming a step-mom I was very sure of myself and excited. I had high expectations that these kids would love and accept me the way I did them and thought I would be their “mom” away from mom. I was thrilled to have a ready-made family, as I wasn’t sure I would be able to have kids, as my mom had had problems conceiving and the man I was marrying had made it clear he couldn’t have anymore, nor did he plan on changing that. Boy did I set myself up for failure! All was going great and sure they loved me, until their birth mom found out they were calling me “mom.” Our bubble was burst and we were no longer the “happy little family” every other weekend. Sixteen years later, I still claim those two children as my own, even though I’m not proud of some of the things they’ve done or the way they’ve treated me in the past (just like any other parent would.) They will probably never understand the way I feel for them, but now that they are adults and forming relationships of their own, I hope they will understand.

    As far as being and adoptive mom, we started out as foster parents to our little ones. I had wanted to be a “real” mom. I wanted to go through the process of nine months of carrying and preparing and then taking the baby home from the hospital. I even wanted to contend with the extra pounds left after delivery, I saw it as a challenge. But as I mentioned earlier, neither one of us could have kids. This desire was still with me for a while after our first placement of a 17-month old. We eventually adopted him and two others we were able to take home straight from the hospital. There is no way that carrying a child and delivering could make me love these children any more than I already do and with the ups and downs of foster care and adoption I feel like I did all that. I even have the stretch marks to prove it!

    Thanks for allowing me to share!

  2. One thing I can say that has definitively changed is my previous notion that my child would always feel “adopted.” I’m not sure what I thought that would feel like–I guess the closest way to describe it would be that I thought that I would feel like I was mothering someone else’s child. I can honestly say that I don’t view my son (adopted from Ethiopia at 5.5 months old) as anything but my own and that I have no different feelings for him than I do for my two older “homegrown” children. I often catch myself thinking things like, “Oh, of course he’s allergic to that–I am too.” And he does the same thing. He always tells me that he has brown eyes “just like his Mommy.” I guess the feeling goes both ways : )

  3. Adoption has always been in my heart. I had the ‘normal’ world view that a child would be grateful for a home, and love. (LOL) As we proceeded with learning about adoption I came to realize that is not the case. My poor girls have lost several mothers and will grieve for them. They will push me away to see if I am trustworthy. And when i pass that test then i get the anger and hurt they feel. Its tough. My oldesr grieved the hardest. There were days i didnt think we would make it. Now she’s a securely attached little girl. But even so, you can see the mild panic when daddy is gone for a few days. My heart breaks for what they went through. I’m now always amazed when people say how ‘lucky’ the kids are, or how good hubby and I are. God is good, and WE are the lucky ones to have these children.

    Everytime one of our kids comes home I have a slight panic attack. who is she? what does she like? Am i scaring her? We muddle along, making mistakes and trying new things. Eventually one day she looks at me and i look at her and I know. This precious child is mine. She is my daughter, we belong together.

  4. Hi Mary,

    I am the stepmother to two teenage girls and have two little boys. When I met the girls soon into my relationship with their dad, I thought that we would be great friends and at first we were…. Soon after, their dad moved into my house which meant that every second weekend the girls were in my house, too. I had gone from living alone to having three extra people in my house. It was hard for everyone. It was also scary as I did not know what my role was – they were in my house but are not my children. Even now, nearly six years later, I still struggle to define my role in their lives. I am not their mother, but I do motherly things for them like buy clothes for them to keep at our house and cook meals for them. I am not their friend, really, as we have virtually nothing in common. I do not know whether I can discipline them or not, so I try to leave that to their dad, but I do try to gently encourage them to do particular things. They exhibit certain personality traits and behaviours that I would not tolerate in my own children due to the way their mother (with whom they spend most of their time) treats them – she does not make them do chores at home so they do not know how to and, subsequently, do very little to help out when they are at our house. They are fussy eaters, which I struggle to work around.

    I don’t know if I love them or not, but I am very fond of them and have complete respect for the fact that they are my partner’s children and my son’s sisters, which are very important roles that I will never interfere with. I was feeling that a lot of what I did for them was going unnoticed and unappreciated, but they gave me a lovely Mothers’ Day present and the accompanying card thanked me for everything I do for them.

    In some ways I find step-mothering harder than mothering, but I am very glad to have these girls in my life and as part of my family.

  5. Hi,

    I have always loved the idea of adoption – always. When I was a child I wanted to adopt and my heart was set on having babies and adopting. In fact, when guys would try to date me, I was very upfront about knowing that I wanted to adopt. I remember saying to my husband before we were dating, “you don’t want to get involved with me. I want to adopt kids”. We ended up dating and marrying but that was my stance for relationships. A few years into our marriage we were trying to have a baby and it didn’t work out. So we waited and finally got our first home which was a huge upgrade from our one bedroom condo. We bought a four bedroom house to fill with children. Less than six months later we were matched to a sibling set of three boys. They moved in three months later after visits and an overnight. Right away they called us mom and dad and we loved them. Still do. They were difficult. Their ages (when they moved in) were 2, 4 and 7. The oldest has cerebral palsy, A.D.H.D., Intermittent Explosive behavior and probably other things. Needless to say, we got a crash course in parenting. They had been in the foster care system for 3 years and had 12 homes.

    Three months later, they went to live with grandparents. Our hearts were broken. We were so hurt. The grandparents said, “they were fine with foster care but not with them being adopted. So they’d take then instead”. This was disheartening. How could God move these boys that we loved?

    About a month afterwards, our kids moved in. They were 5, 7, 10 and 14. The 14 year old moved out six months ago, right after her 16th birthday…. her choice, not ours. The 5 and 7 year old are now 8 and 9 and were adopted this past May. Two years and one day after they moved in. And our daughter, who is 10 will be adopted in the next few weeks. She is now 12.

    It has been a difficult journey. Our kids have been in numerous homes and have been treated poorly. It saddens me that people used to hurt them for no reason at all…. not that there is ever a reason to do some of the things that have been done to them. We don’t spank in our home. One because it’s against the foster care rules and two because our kids have had trauma…. a lot of trauma. I couldn’t make them behave by any amount of spanking because they’ve endured so much. So much of our difficult journey has been me processing forgiving former foster parents for inflicting abuse upon our children. I never realized how much I would have to work out in myself. Our kids are gorgeous (I’m biased but they are!!) – they are super talented and good at so many things and they are so smart! It makes me so sad that they were sitting in foster homes scared to breathe and here they are excelling in so many things.

    I’m still excited about adoption and so is my husband. He recently said that we should have at least 15 kids :). Our kids also want to adopt more kids so that’s the plan, unless God says otherwise. Our plan is to begin the process again shortly after our daughter is adopted.

    When I think about the first boys that we had, I pray for them. They like all kids are temporarily ours. They are God’s first and though we love them, God loves all of these kids more than we ever could.

  6. We were just talking last night at dinner about my role in my daughter’s life. Technically I’m her step-mother, but for all intents and purposes I am her mother, and as my husband likes to add, “biology doesn’t make you a parent.” My boys are fascinated at the way that a million little things could have happened differently and we would not be here as a family.

    … as I sit here trying to answer your questions, I think I’ll just make a post of it. Hope you don’t mind!

  7. We have two “homegrown” sons who are 10 and 12, a daughter adopted from India who is 5, and are waiting for our next daughter from India (she is 14 months old right now). I think the thing that took me by surprise is the jarring experience of “allignment” after our daughter arrived at home. For months, we stared at her photo and our hearts burst with love for her . . . and then when we met her and brought her home, I realized we didn’t know a thing about her, and she didn’t know a thing about us! So I was taken by surprise by the fact that we were trying to quickly learn things about the “real” child we had met (vs. the “imaginary” child we had been dreaming about for 7 months). We were both learning — she was learning that we could be trusted, that we were safe people . . . and we were learning her likes, dislikes, personality, etc. It felt like two images of her (like photos) were blurry and misalligned, and slowly drifted and clicked into place. It was a process of discovery for us and for her.

  8. I’m the adoptive mom of 3, bio mom to 2. Adoption radically changed our lives in 2000. Adopting 3 siblings with little preparation other than a call from God was rocky to say the least. Diagnoses of RAD, OCD and other learning issues (took years for this) as well as sexual abuse, rocked our world. We were ignorant, hopeful, obedient and scared to death. God has been our rock through many years of uncertainty, but He has taught us so much about ourselves and our God. It has been the most rewarding, yet challenging, thing I’ve ever experienced in my life. Our story has tragedy as well as triumph (all the makings of a good movie!), and I would do it again, albeit with better preparation as to what we would face. I write about our story on my blog. I love all my children with the realization that the relationship is everything. I’ve worked harder and fought longer for my adopted kids’ heart, yet I have a great relationship with my older bio kids as well. It’s the best job in the world!