Six things I’ve learned about Adoption

This is a piece written from the perspective of an “adoptive aunt”, Gina Diorio. Lovely thoughts on how adoption changed her and what she has learned through this journey.


“The call woke me up late one December evening in 2012. I was out of state at a training seminar for work and was already fast asleep in my hotel room. Seeing that the caller was my sister, I confess that my first, half-asleep reaction not quite joyous as, between the two of us, she is definitely the night person. But when I finally became coherent enough to understand what she was saying and her words – “You’re an aunt.” – sank in, I knew my life had just been irreversibly changed.

I now think of it as among the best days of my life.

What makes it different from, perhaps, the “typical” experience is that my precious niece came to our family through adoption. Now, 18 months later, I can’t get enough of her smiles, her kisses, and her words that are coming at a faster pace by the day.

Perceptions – and misperceptions – of adoption are undoubtedly too many to count, from the idea that people adopt only (and always) because it’s their only option to have children (wrong) to the idea that children are placed for adoption only because they are unwanted (wrong again).

As I’ve watched my niece grow these past months, and now as I watch my sister and brother-in-law pursue adopting four siblings, I’ve had my own perceptions challenged, reinforced, obliterated, and tweaked – in varying degrees.

While I certainly can’t give ‘advice’ as (or to) an adoptive mother, perhaps a few things I’ve learned can help others whose lives have been changed, blessed, and enriched in some way through adoption – or those who aren’t quite sure how to respond to a friend or family member who has chosen to adopt.

1) Every story is different. Before assuming you know the reason for an adoption, realize one thing: you probably don’t. Assumptions, if stated, can be hurtful – to birth mothers, to adoptive parents, and to the children involved. Just as every child is unique, so, too, is every story unique.

2) People ask some stupid questions. Yes, it’s true. While I haven’t gotten some of the downright rude questions my sister has gotten, I have gotten questions such as “Where did she come from?” “Did they adopt because they couldn’t have kids?” Etc. By and large, these questions reflect ignorance more than malice. And truth be told, I’ve probably asked these exact questions in my past (although never again). So, to all my friends who will be asked these questions, take heart, you’re not the first to face them. And to those thinking about asking these questions, think twice. If your purpose is simply your own curiosity, perhaps restraint is the virtue of the day.

3) “Adopted” does not mean “unwanted.” It’s all too easy and tempting to imagine that a birth mother places her child for adoption because she doesn’t want the child. After all, how could anyone “give up” her child? Before going any further, stop. Just stop. Unless you know the whole story, you don’t know the whole story (And even if you know the whole story, you might not know the whole story.) Certainly, those instances exist. But so do many, many cases of birth mothers showing incredible love and courage by relinquishing their children to someone else’s care.

4) Adoption does not define a child. My niece is not my “adopted” niece. My niece is my niece, who so happened to come into our family through adoption. Certainly, the fact that this is her story will impact her life. But classifying a child – any child – by the fact that they entered a family through adoption is no different from classifying them based on other factors, which we wouldn’t dream of doing.

5) If you haven’t adopted a child, don’t pretend you understand.How tempting it would be to tell my sister – or anyone pursuing an adoption – that I understand the stresses they’re going through. All that paperwork? Well, yeah, I’ve done my taxes before. All the uncertainties? Sure, I’ve been uncertain of things before. But the reality is that I have no idea. And chances are, if you haven’t adopted, neither do you. To offer our support, we don’t need to know it all or pretend that we do.

6) Adoption will change your life in ways you can’t even begin to imagine. When I first met my niece, I couldn’t begin to imagine the joy she would bring into our lives. Certainly, things changed. But it was the kind of change you never knew you needed but now can’t imagine life without. And if and when more children join my niece, I know that a year from now, I’ll be saying the same thing.

This list could be much, much longer – and I’m sure I’ll be adding even more to it in the coming months and years. But until then, I’ll be enjoying as much time as I can with the little girl whose arrival has already taught me so much.”

You can view the whole piece here.


Wednesday Wisdom 14/05/2014

“The truth is that the 143 million orphaned children and the 11 million who starve to death or die from preventable diseases and the 8.5 million who work as child slaves, prostitutes, or under other horrific conditions and the 2.3 million who live with HIV add up to 164.8 million needy children. And though at first glance that looks like a big number, 2.1 billion people on this earth proclaim to be Christians. The truth is that if only 8 percent of the Christians would care for one more child, there would not be any statistics left.” 

Katie J. Davis

* Taken from the book “Kisses from Katie”.

Wednesday Wisdom 26/03/2014

“While it costs us a lot to adopt children, it cost God the blood of His own Son.”

Rick Morton & Tony Merida

  • Taken from the book Orphanology by Rick Morton and Tony Merida

Wednesday Wisdom 8/01/2014

“The great challenge of adoption and orphan care ministry is to cultivate a death-defying passion for God above all things. A faith that rests in him whether living or dying, whether comfortable or miserable, whether successful in our orphan care or not. Our aim is to cultivate and spread the unshakable confidence that God is better than what life can give us and what death can take from us.”

John Piper

The Ridiculous Grace of Adoption

This piece was published today on the Gospel Coalition website. It is beautifully written by an adoptee on her understanding of adoption – both our vertical adoption by God as well as vertical adoption in this life.

Be sure to also watch the video clip at the end, where Marissa shares the way their family came to know Christ and the Gospel through the girl appointed as her nanny.

Wednesday Wisdom 20/11/2013

“At the end of the day, welcoming and encouraging adoption is not about making a social statement or engineering diversity. It is about the body of Christ awakening to the indicatives of the gospel and seeing its implications. “

Justin Taylor

Preparing for Siya

Siya wall art

How do you squeeze 9 months of preparation into 3 weeks?

If all goes according to plan, Siya will come home on Thursday! That’s just 3 weeks after we heard about this little boy’s existence.

Its been an emotional time for our family as we’ve had to pray and prepare our hearts, minds and home for this baby who will be our son in just a few more days. Its been excitement mixed with nervous anticipation – excited to bring another child into our family but also a little anxious at times about what the future may hold for all of us

This may well be one of the most difficult and complex decisions we’ve ever had to make. By God’s grace however, we are filled with a reassuring sense of peace knowing that He has already chosen each child for our family.

At almost 9 weeks Siya is a healthy happy-chappy-baby-boy. His first few weeks of life were spent at the New Beginningz Baby Haven. We’ve been privileged to meet him before the 60-day waiting period is over. This has given us important time to spend with Siya before the placement. If you only have 3 weeks to prepare every day helps!

Bubbling with excitement Nina, our 3-year old daughter, is counting down the days to her baby brother’s homecoming. Proud of becoming an older sister she’s already assuming a demanding motherly role insisting that Siya stays in her care for the duration of our visits. We are bound for interesting times ahead!

These 3 weeks have been emotionally exhausting and deeply precious. It has given us time to settle our fears, to pray, to be reminded of why we adopt and to be encouraged by the stories of others.

Siya – our son – we’re ready for you.

Why do we adopt?

There are many compelling reasons to adopt. To list only a few:

South Africa has 3.7 million orphans facing desperate circumstances. Outside the safety of a home they are neglected, alone and become victims of social evils including human trafficking and prostitution.

The best orphanage is not a home. The best caregivers are not parents. Fellow orphans are not siblings. Adoption makes all the difference to that one child.

Some couples face infertility, as we did, and adoption offers a way to be parents despite the inability to have biological children.

As opposed to abortion, what alternative other than adoption can Christians propose for mothers unable to care for their children?

Caring for orphans and the fatherless – exemplified most profoundly through adoption – reflects the Father heart of God. As the brother of Jesus makes clear,“Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world.“ (James 1:27)

Even more profoundly, through adoption we reflect what God did for us through Jesus when we believe and trust in him. Before the creation of the world it was in His mind to adopt us through the work of the cross. “In love he predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved.” (Ephesians 1:4b-6).

Is this why we adopt? Yes and no.

These are objective truths. They only become personal when they settle in our minds and convict our hearts. But even then it does not necessarily move our will.

What ultimately moved us to adopt?

A conviction, solidified over time, that this was part of God’s chosen purpose for our lives. If this is His will for us, then why would we want to be anywhere else?