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“What If…” – Thoughts On Adoption

A&E – NICU – Deaconess Hospital

December 2000. Just two months prior I’d miraculously become an adoptive father to my twin daughters. I was working a Phoenix Suns game at America West Arena when a customer in our store overheard me say something about adopting my girls. He struck up a conversation by mentioning he and his wife were considering adoption. I could tell by their questions they’d done their homework.

As is usually the case, the last question is the question we most want to ask. “What if, you know, there’s something in their family medical history that you don’t know about?”

I understand the question. It’s not without merit. Whether biological or adoptive, prospective parents are remiss not to consider how they will respond in the event their child is born with or develops a chronic health issue.

Having personally experienced the entire process; from the idle dreaming of what fatherhood would be like, to the thought of a mini-me running around, to the high price dog and pony show of infertility treatments, to the maze of paperwork that is adoption, it’s a question I can speak to.

When it comes to genetics, we don’t say it. But we think it. We all tend to believe our DNA is somehow superior. That thought is brought front and center when we consider adoption. It’s the belief behind the question, “What if there’s something in their family medical history we don’t know?”

For whatever reason, we believe the odds of a healthy kid are much better if the double helix has our name on it.

The fact is we have no idea how our own biological children will turn out. I had retinoblastoma, a malignant cancer, when I was 18 months old. This particular cancer is hereditary. Yet we’ve never found evidence of it anywhere in our family tree.

The thought our own DNA somehow improves the odds of having a healthier child is, in part, what drives couples toward fertility treatments. That, and the desire to have a child that is “their own”. (More on that in a moment.)

Perhaps I’m not the most objective person on this topic as I’ve never had a burning desire to pass along my genetic code. Then again, perhaps that makes me more objective. Current fertility treatment technology is the science fiction we read a short 50 years ago. Ovulation stimulation drugs (Clomid), in vitro fertilization, and AI (artificial insemination) are but a few options Old Testament Abraham and Sarah would have loved to consider during their 25 year wait for a baby.

As with all technology, it begs the question. Just because we can, does it mean we should?

At some point, does it not become an issue of stewardship? I know couples who have spent close to $100,000 dollars trying to get pregnant. That is their choice to make. Yet I have to wonder, is that a wise use of money when there are thousands of children waiting, dreaming and praying for a forever family?

Every husband and wife have opportunity to make the decision they believe best. Some, if not most, couples desire to have a biological child. That’s natural. Yet when for reasons medical or otherwise the possibility of conception is remote, what should a couple consider?

In the book, “When Empty Arms Become A Heavy Burden“, the authors make a wise and pertinent point:

“At some point you need to ask yourselves the questions. “Do we want to have a baby? Or do we want to be parents?”

Objectively, the infant stage lasts a very short time. In less than 12 months they grow from helpless baby blanket burritos carried around in lock and load car seats into perpetual motion toddlers jamming Legos into your DVD player and yanking lights off the Christmas tree.

There is a difference between wanting a baby and wanting to be parents. The baby stage lasts a few months. Deciding to become a parent is for life. It means accepting the unknown. We can do our very best in every way, yet at the end of the day the queries of “will my child avoid serious health problems?”, “will my kid make wise choices?”, “will my kid be a functioning adult?”, “will my kid experience a traumatic event?”, and “will my kid turn out ok?” all have giant question marks dangling at the end.

Biological or adopted, no parent knows how their kids will turn out. All we can do is our best.

All my parents’ grandchildren are adopted. Now ages 9, 16, 16, 18, and 21, they all came into our family from someplace else.

Isabella, the latest for my sister, had a “gotcha party”. A gathering of family and friends to celebrate the day we “gotcha” as a member of the family. At the end of the afternoon she could be found in her room, looking over her shoulder into the mirror to see “Thompson” on the back of her shirt.

Some reading this may wonder, “But will an adopted child feel like…mine?”

A&E – Volunteering at Carillon House – 2008

My daughters were born seven and a half weeks early. With birth weights of 3 pounds 9 ounces and 3 pounds 14 ounces they were the tiniest babies I’d ever been around. When my moment came to peek into their incubators for the first time, I was wondering the same thing. Will I feel distant? Will I feel detached?

Annie was sleeping when I pressed my face close to look at her. After a few seconds, she opened her eyes and looked at me.

I was gone. Finished. Over the moon.

Emma’s incubator was across the NICU. I put my hand through the hole to touch her. She grabbed my little finger.

I’ve been wrapped ever since.

For those considering adoption, know this. The child God has for you will be all yours.

Todd A. Thompson – One Eye Out

This Post Has 11 Comments

  1. Lupe Kollasch

    Thank you Todd for your words. I have read some of your articles in the past.

    1. Todd Thompson

      Lupe! So nice to hear from you. Thank you for taking time to read. I appreciate it. Blessings to you and yours in the north country! – tat

  2. Eileene

    In today’s busy world I sometimes have to save …and read later …. That is true for today. as I was about to close out I scrolled down to Your parting words “The child God has for you will be all yours” …. has stopped me in my tracks. I have 3 adopted daughters … 1 that I/we struggle with daily… in the mist of my grumbly thoughts … I need to thank God for my Blessings, My Loves…. Thank YOU for your words!

    1. Todd Thompson

      Eileene – Thank you for your kind words. And for taking time to read. I still wonder why and what God was thinking when He dropped these babies in my lap. I’m such an imperfect parent. We do our imperfect best and trust God for the rest. Blessings to you! – tat

  3. Brenda Tyler

    Love the distinction between ‘wanting to have a baby’ and ‘wanting to be a parent.’

    On another note…my husband and I are adoptive parents, and we have the privilege of knowing our son’s birth mom. Six weeks prior to his birth, we were able to meet the young lady who was giving us her son. There are no words to describe the magnitude of emotion in the room that evening, but I can tell you the nervousness on her part abated with one question…and one answer.

    Birth mom (through tears): “Will you still want him if something is wrong with him when he is born?”

    Me (through tears): “Absolutely…because he’s already ours.”

    From the moment we knew he was ours…we were all in. And the minute the nurse put him in my arms…at all of two hours old…the deal was sealed.

    Todd, you are absolutely right…the child God has for you will be all yours.

    1. Todd Thompson

      Brenda- Your response is worth its own column. What a great story. Thanks for sharing it here! – tat

  4. Doug Gould

    Todd, great picture of what God has done for us. A friend of mine growing up was adopted and it was quite obvious because she was Alaskan Native American (not sure if that is the politically correct way of saying Eskimo). She looked different than her parents and she had an interesting perspective on being adopted. She said something to the effect “you are what your parents got when you were born, but my parents chose me”. Pretty cool to think about in human terms but also cool to think how God has chosen each of us and “knit us together in our Mother’s womb” to be just who He wants us to be. Thanks Todd.

    1. Todd Thompson

      Doug – So true. Romans 8 is my favorite. We are God’s kids. It doesn’t get better than that. Blessings to you, my friend! – tat

  5. Ruth Landegent

    As an adoptive mom whose children look nothing like me, I cannot imagine feeling more love, joy, mother bear protectiveness, elation, frustration and holy redemptive awe for these two! They are mine…God’s gift to us. To our entire family.

    1. Todd Thompson

      Ruth- Thanks for this wonderful description. I’ve not had opportunity to meet your kids other than through Facebook photos. Thankful for that. And you are so right about the Mama/Papa Bear feelings! Blessings to you, friend! – tat

  6. Lisa cummings


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