My first Father’s Day was a doozie.
My wife and I were in the early days of being home with our newly adopted son, and my wife was on full bed rest with 1 week to go before delivering our second son. I was in my final weeks of a rigorous seminary program, and I was balancing all of the above with a full-time job. And yet that first Father’s Day stands out in my mind as one of the best days of my life. Though I was terrified of doing it all wrong, I was thankful to finally be a dad.
This Father’s Day will be my 5th, and though I still have plenty to learn about parenting, I’ve gained a few lessons from fellow dads who have also adopted and are ahead of me on the journey.
Here are 3–
1. Don’t consider adoption “a mom thing.” Make it your interest, too.
When my wife and I first started dating, I knew adoption was important to her. She was adopted as a child, and she always said she wouldn’t date anybody who wouldn’t at least consider adopting someday. (Actually, I believe her words were, “I would drop him like a screen door in a hurricane.”) So when Trisha and I got married, I safely assumed adoption was on the horizon.
But then an odd thing happened. As I began to learn about adoption–reading good books on it and studying God’s Word in relationship to caring for the fatherless–I became as committed to it as my wife. In fact, in some ways, our roles reversed. I am now the one who talks about wanting to adopt again if God would open that door. I am deeply committed to adoption.
Adoption is not a women’s interest issue–it should be the interest of every child of God.
2. Hold your expectations loosely.
Very little about an adoption is predictable. One of the wisest decisions you can make (with regard to the adoption process and the subsequent responsibility of raising your child) is to keep an open heart and mind. Love your child for who he or she is–not who you wanted or expected him or her to be.
Our son by adoption is now ten years old, and I love seeing who he is becoming. My son is interested in certain things that I have little interest in. I praise God because we can challenge each other.
One other quick note. The Bible indicates that discipleship trumps genetics when it comes to building character. We must take the initiative to love and train the children in our home. I have two boys–one by adoption and one through biology–with equally sinful natures who need the love and grace of God as desperately as I do. Very little separates my boys in my eyes–save, maybe, their hair color.
3. Love God more tomorrow than you do today.
The more we learn about God, the better we understand what human fatherhood should look like, based on how God behaves toward us. The more we learn about the Gospel, the better we understand adoption (and vice versa). Loving God and what He did and continues to do for us in our need should therefore compel us to love other people better–and specifically those who have need. So my main goal as a dad is to love God better tomorrow than I do today (and every day thereafter). Because loving God more will make me a better father.
The secret to being a remarkable dad through adoption? — The secret is that there is no secret.
Just be a loving, faithful, Gospel-driven dad.
Luke Priebe pastors a church in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. He joyfully supports adoption and fatherhood.
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