For Christian couples, the adoption journey is often filled with ups and downs: the long periods of waiting, the disappointment if you’re not selected right away, and the supreme joy when a birth mother finally chooses you to parent her child. This emotional roller coaster can put a strain on even the strongest Christian marriage. The stress can be even greater if you decide to adopt a child with special needs, or if you choose adoption after infertility.
As you and your partner prepare to answer the Lord’s call to adopt, make strengthening your marriage your first priority. A strong partnership is the best defense against adoption stress. After all, your marriage is the foundation for your growing Christian family.
Strengthen Your Marriage Before Your Baby Arrives
Before the addition of a baby changes your family dynamic, create a game plan to strengthen your Christian marriage. You will feel more prepared and supported if you enter this next phase of your life as a team. A Christian couple who communicates with each other, and with God, will be more prepared for the curveballs life can throw.
1. Communicate your concerns and expectations about your open adoption. Be honest with each other about your wishes from the start. How much communication will you be comfortable maintaining with the birth parents? Discuss how you will talk to your child about her adoption story. If you are adopting after infertility, make sure you have grieved that loss together before pursuing adoption.
2. Discuss your finances. Money can be a source of conflict in any relationship. Add the expense of adoption costs to the mix, and you and your partner could be in for some heated debates if you don’t see eye to eye on finances. Plan out a budget together. Will you apply for adoption loans and grants? Make sure you agree on any lifestyle changes that may result from investing in your adoption plan.
3. Decide together what values you want to teach your children. How do you plan to bring your children into the Christian faith? Make sure you and your partner are on the same page when it comes to religious traditions, how you will worship, and your family’s core values.
Keep Your Marriage Alive After Children
Put your marriage first. Try to avoid falling into a pattern of putting a child’s perceived needs above the needs of your marriage. In all actuality, children benefit when their parents have a loving, united relationship.
Children crave consistency and stability. They want clear expectations, and that’s exactly what a strong marriage can give them. Your marriage will be their first role model for a healthy relationship. Here are some ways that you and your spouse can put your marriage first:
1. Pray together. Strengthen your marriage by strengthening your relationship with God. Seek His guidance as you pray together, and reaffirm your commitment to his will.
2. Plan date nights. Make an effort to find a babysitter and schedule some alone time at least once per month. Whether it’s dinner and movie or hiking your favorite mountain trail, plan an activity that will help you relax and reconnect as a couple. It would help if you also aimed to get away for an overnight adventure two or three times per year. Raising kids is hard work! You’ll be better equipped for this work when you and your spouse are recharged and refreshed.
3. Work on a project together. A project is an opportunity for teamwork, problem-solving, and fun. You could plan a home improvement project, an artistic endeavor, or help plan a community event. Your options are as open as your interests and passions. Working together on a project gives you a chance to appreciate each other’s talents and creativity. Rediscover the qualities that made you fall in love in the first place. A project also gives you a common interest other than your children to talk about.
4. Establish rituals. For example, coffee on the front porch each morning. Brunch after church services on Sunday. The nicknames that are rooted in a private joke from years ago. Rituals are the small details that make your marriage uniquely yours.
5. Consider counseling. When times get tough, ask for help. Whether you seek guidance from a therapist or a religious leader in your church, asking for help shows your commitment to your marriage.
Life will get really busy once a child enters the picture: sleepless nights, doctor appointments, after-school activities. It’s easy to get caught up in the daily grind. But remember, you were a couple before you were parents. A strong marriage requires work, but it’s one of the best investments you can make in your family.