I'm Glad We Adopted First

My husband and I decided to adopt first when we were just 23 and 25 years old. We adopted our son Israel from Ethiopia, and then had a biological daughter, Edith, a little over a year later. Our kids are 22 months apart. Our decision to adopt Israel was very intentional, and our decision to have Edith was more unexpected (read the story here).

The other day my mom and I were talking about cocooning, because she was talking with another grandmother who was awaiting an adopted grandchild. My mom told me she was really glad that we adopted first, because we didn't have to worry about other kids during the transition. That got me thinking... there's many reasons why I'm glad we adopted first!

  • Cocooning. (See this thread on previous posts). We were able to cocoon with Israel and it didn't affect anyone else but us. I got an excuse to be a selfish mama and keep all the snuggles to myself for a few weeks! :) On the flip side, when you have a biological child second, you don't have to cocoon and it seems so radical! 
  • By adopting first you have all of this education on the emotional health of your adopted kiddos... so you do everything "by the book" to help heal your traumatized kids' hearts... so when you DON'T Have to do that for your biological child it makes it seem a lot easier the second time parenting!
  • By missing the first months of Israel's life, I have a new appreciation for Edith's early days. Israel wasn't in our home for the first 7 months of his life, and we didn't get to experience the early baby stage with him. So instead of wishing away the early months of dependency, I'm soaking it in for the both of them. Often you hear parents say that they cherished their latter kids' early stages more than the first kid. We get to enjoy Edith's early days and don't take them for granted.  
  • It is a million times less expensive to have biological children. Adopting first makes you realize the value of children and what a blessing they are. By adopting first we didn't take having kids for granted. We were able to save, spend time creatively fundraising, and work really hard to bring Israel home. It was mentally and emotionally exhausting at times, and I'm glad we were able to devote the time and energy into it when there were only two of us. 
  • Adopting first made us realize the importance of living missionally and globally. We realized the purchases we made make a difference- buying fair trade, spending our money intentionally, supporting other families, etc. We learned about another country and another culture and have desires to honor Ethiopia in the way that we raise our child. Not saying that you can't do that with biological children, but having an adopted child forces the culture of your home to change. When we were putting ornaments on the tree this year, I was so happy to see all of the Ethiopia/Africa ornaments from various fundraisers of my adopting peers. We have an Ethiopian nativity and table linens that are on display. Ethiopia is a part of our family culture now, and that is an honor. 
  • Adopting first is harder. It is really hard when you are helping a traumatized child heal and transition. You can't let your child cry it out, and you have to be so intentional about caring for your child's heart. We had months of sleeplessness and babywearing as we sought to do what was best for Israel. It was exhausting and physically draining! But we sowed into our son and are reaping joy and healing. We didn't have to worry about tending to other kids when we were dealing with our traumatized baby. We could give him 100% attention. With our second, biological child it has been much easier. SO MUCH EASIER! Sleep-deprivation does not include wondering about her emotional health or attachment. We do not question every interaction with strangers or wonder where she stands with her attachment towards us. It's okay for friends to hold her or for her to be passed around at church. 
  • To my second child, diversity in our home will always be normal. Edith will always have had a brown-skinned, Ethiopian brother. She will only know her family this way! 
  • Adoption is a priority for us, and we were able to make sure that we accomplished something that we felt the Lord's call to do. We knew that having children was going to make our life complicated (okay maybe we really didn't grasp that until we HAD kids!) and so we wanted to make sure that we adopted. That's why we adopted first, because we wanted to make adoption a priority. We knew finances and jobs and school could always change and make adoption difficult... so adopting first allowed us to make sure that we really got to do it! 
These are just a few reasons why I'm thankful our family chose to adopt first. I realize every family has their own reasons for doing things the way they do them! And sometimes, you don't get to plan out the way you have your family. I just want to encourage any other families that are thinking about adopting first, that it is GOOD and HARD but worth it! To my waiting mama friends... keep persevering! The wait is so hard. It is unbearable at times, but you will reap in joy what you sow in tears (Psalm 126:5). Adoption includes LOSS and the experience will change you in so many ways. I cannot imagine coming out from the adoption experience as the same person I was at 23 when we started. We have been stretched in good ways. I'm so thankful God saw fit for our family to start with Israel and then to have Edith. He is faithful and I wouldn't have it any other way. 


  1. What a beautiful family He has created!

  2. woo hoo! these are great reminders, as our long process continues. there are many reasons we chose adoption first, and we believe God led us to it!


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