THE SCARIEST “WHAT IF” ABOUT ADOPTION
For couples who are considering adoption, I’m sure there may be times where things feel scary, and I’m sure there are a lot of “what ifs” that you may ask yourself. “What if I don’t love the child I adopt?” or “What if the child doesn’t love me?” When I watched the video above of the Rollins family adoption story, their answer to the scariest “what if” brought tears to my eyes. “What is the scariest ‘what if’ about adoption?” to which they responded, “The scariest ‘what if’ about adoptions is – what if we never had!” I am so glad that the Rollins family didn’t let the “what ifs” stand in their way. Renaissance Woman and mother, Amber Rollins graciously answered some questions about her adoption story for us below.
When did you decide that you wanted to adopt?
“I can’t remember a time adoption wasn’t on my mind and heart. From the time I was a teenager I was so drawn to adoption: the blending of families, and really the miracle that it is. My passion for adoption has only grown stronger over the years, especially since we adopted James. I know people would often say we changed James’ life by adopting him, although that may be partially true, we have been the ones who have really changed, for the good. To look in the eyes of a child who looks nothing like you and call him your son, to see him as nothing less than your very own. It is an extravagant gift.”
What inspired you to want to adopt?
“Chad and I had been married a few years when we seriously, started becoming more aware of the need for adoption. Honestly, the more we pursued adoption the more convicted we were that we must weave this into our family. The need is overwhelming, here in Alachua Co we are ranked as one of the highest counties in the State of FL with children coming into the state’s care and needing new homes daily. Our desire to adopt was not a plan B in the case that conception wasn’t an option, we knew without a doubt we would adopt, we just didn’t know when. However, we had been trying to conceive for over a year we were presented with James. Our faith played the most inspiring role in our desire to adopt. God’s love has radically changed our lives and given us great hope, a love and a hope we couldn’t possibly keep to ourselves. A love that also gave us the courage to pursue adoption, it didn’t come without fear but we were compelled by a love that was greater.”
What’s it like to be a foster parent?
“James came to us in what is referred to as an ’emergency shelter’ situation. This is very similar to foster care but very different at the same time. We were not yet certified as foster parents when James came to us, we were basically a safe place until further arrangements could be made. In a nutshell, we literally went to work on a normal day and came home with a baby. This was wild, like all of our dreams coming true, and the most terrifying experience all spinning together. Foster care, emergency shelter, adoption, its risky, it’s messy. You must be willing to take a chance without allowing the fear of loss to steal the gift of love. You must see the bigger picture, in our case initially with James, his biological parents were working towards being reunited with him, of course, day by day we were falling in love with him, seeing him as ours but steadfastly working to remember ultimately reconciliation with his biological family was the main goal. Whether God allowed us to care for him for one day, one year or a lifetime, our work and our role mattered, it wasn’t all about us, it was about him. I remember laying him down at night in fear of what the next day would bring, would this be the last time I tucked him in? In those moments, the fear of loss is real but ultimately the gift of loving James for just a moment would have been worth it all. James was with us for over nine months before adoption became a true option. We lived and loved and hoped just like any other family, we just had social workers checking our fridge and making sure we had baby locks on everything.”
Do you have any advice for those who are looking to adopt or foster?
“Goodness, I could write for days about shelter, foster care, and adoption. I think my greatest piece of advice would be to work diligently to be open minded and have grace with yourself and your family. Life can be hard to navigate; the life of a foster or adoptive family can be a little extra hard to navigate. Be willing to do things you may have never done, to love a child who looks different with you, to be willing to unpack yucky baggage and have hard conversations. Be willing to work together as a couple or in your family to help one another through some the ‘hard’ places, having grace with one another as you grow together. There is not a great ‘handbook’ for these things, and if there is one I’m not aware of, its probably not worth reading. Every situation is different, every child is unique, every family is unique, there can be a lot of unknowns with foster care and adoption, but really, truly, isn’t that a risk any of us take with parenting? I believe, a risk with great reward. We must have grace with ourselves, our spouses and with these amazing children we get to love and care for.”
Any general parenting advice?
“I most definitely don’t feel like an expert on parenting. We still have so much to learn but I am daily being reminded to choose moments. I’m a doer, a tasker, I like order, I crave it. Children are the opposite, they are unpredictable and messy and just when you had planned to fold those four baskets of laundry sitting there, they want to turn the music up and have a dance party with their mom. Some days I choose the laundry, other days we dance. I’m always glad when we dance. There’s a time and a needed place for order and folded towels but in years to come I want them to remember that mom chose to dance, hopefully, when they are older, they will too.”
What is the best thing about adoption?
“The greatest thing about adoption. A love that has no boundaries. A love that is not bound to genetics or skin color. A love that allows me to look at James and call him my son, not because he looks like me, not because I carried him in my womb, but because of love.”
What does being a Renaissance Woman mean to you?
“This is such an exciting time to be a woman. I am constantly seeing so many different stories of women growing, challenging their fears, expressing their creativity, loving their people. It’s inspiring. One of my greatest desires is to inspire women to grow in community, removing expectation and competition and embracing one another’s gifts. We can so easily be intimidated by others allowing ourselves to be distracted and even discouraged, knee deep in comparison. One of the most encouraging things I have been challenged to do in my relationships with other women is to not only stop with the comparison but also acknowledge and celebrate one another’s gifts. There is something so beautiful about our mess and our diversity. We were each given a note to play, we were never meant to play the whole piece. There is freedom in knowing my note, plus her note, plus her note, it’s sounds pretty amazing together.”
Can you tell us a little more about your adoption story?
“James came to Chad and I when he was seven months old. I worked for a pediatrician and he was a patient at our office. Unknownst to me, the doctor I worked for was aware of some challenges within James’ home and had shared with his biological family our interest in adoption. At that time, Chad and I had only researched adoption but were not yet certified to foster. The day James needed to be removed from his biological family we were called and asked to provide emergency shelter. We had nothing, no crib, no clothes and yet within a matter of hours, we were holding James in our arms. I will never forget the circumstances of that day, I went to work with empty hands and came home with the sweetest most beautiful little boy. James was able to stay with us for over nine months until his biological mom and dad made the difficult and courageous decision to surrender their rights so that James would be eligible for adoption. Shortly after James was 12 months old we were able to legally adopt him as our son. Forever our boy. Two years after that, we were able to conceive and James’ little sister, Katie Joy, was born. The two have been inseparable ever since. They don’t look a thing alike but their little hearts are woven together by something much greater and we are eternally grateful.”