When Your Husband Doesn’t Share Your Desire to Foster or Adopt
Recently, there’s been a shift in the number one response I get when people find out my husband, Phil, and I are foster parents. For the longest time it was the “I-could- never-do- that…” comment almost every foster parent I know has come to loathe. But a few months ago, I started to get a lot of “I would LOVE to foster or adopt, but my husband doesn’t feel the same way.”
It threw me. Because I can still remember being twenty-one, at Olive Garden on our first date, and Phil casually saying he wanted to be a foster and adoptive dad one day. Seriously, we hadn’t even gotten our meals yet. This was over salad and breadsticks.
So in my mind, there was nothing to be said to a woman who would foster but her husband says no. The first couple of times I just kind of nodded awkwardly and mumbled something back about people feeling called to different things. But then I got curious, and stared to ask why. And based on the responses I got, I learned the issues were much more complex than my assumptions and judgments. Sometimes there are barriers and valid reasons for a spouse’s reluctance.
If you find yourself in this position, or know of someone who is, here are some insights and a bit of advice looking forward.
Realize your husband may need more information
There is a reason Phil has never made it through an entire parenting book and I have an entire shelf of highlighted, dog eared copies. *Generally* when women get interested in a topic, we tend to read every blog, book and news article available. But just because you’ve done your research on adoptive issues doesn’t mean your husband has done the same before he concluded it wasn’t for him. There are so many falsehoods and myths out there about foster care/adoption that without enough information, your husband may continue to reject it as a possibility. Find out if there are informational gatherings in your area you could attend together or watch a documentary on Netflix (there are some really good ones!) A little knowledge may go a long way.
Consider the burden your husband feels to provide
Some husbands are unwilling to consider more children when there is already a lot of financial strain on the family. And honestly, sometimes it’s us putting the pressure there. If there is a standard of living being demanded that puts stress on your husband, it’s important to ask yourself if you are willing to help ease the burden. Foster care and adoption requires sacrifice. It might begin with you being willing to trade in your leased SUV for a reliable, used minivan. The daily Starbucks runs and your kids looking like they jumped out of Pottery Barn Kids might need to come to an end. When you begin to show your husband just how serious you are to make foster care or adoption a reality financially, it may seem less daunting.
Are you communicating you can’t handle it?
I’m a venter. Absolutely 100% guilty of this. And venting is a necessary thing for… well, sanity. But there is a BIG difference between being open with your husband about the stress of an average day, and going off about it in a way that makes him think he should take away your keys and call you in a prescription of Ativan. A few months ago, I told Phil I wanted to take another placement. “No way,” he said. “You are already at your max.” But I knew I wasn’t! So I started finding other outlets for stress instead of meeting him at the door with a laundry list of the day’s problems. It’s important we don’t unload on our husbands in a way that communicates we are already at the peak of our stress level with our kids or career if we really weren't.
There may be insecurities about being a good foster/adoptive dad
Being a dad is a hard, demanding job. Many men are doing it without the example of a loving, Christ-like father themselves. Add in the common misconception that foster/adoptive parents are the epitome of super parents, and a lot of men conclude they simply wouldn’t have what it takes to parent someone else’s child. If this is the case, take the time to get to know a foster/adoptive family. Pretty soon the pedestal will come crashing down and your husband will be encouraged to see foster parents are just regular, imperfect people who have said ‘yes’.
Pray and trust God
Fostering and adoption can be a hard, rocky road and the last thing you would want to do is walk down it without being united as a couple. If you truly believe Jesus has called your family to foster or adopt, trust Him to change your spouse’s heart. Find ways to support foster and adoptive families around you. Pray and give your desire back to the Lord. Wait and see what He does, in His timing!
Corrie and her family live in South Carolina, where she spends her time raising kids (foster and bio) and doing diy on their old cape cod home. She is a staff writer for Respite Redefined and you can follow her on Instagram.