This is National Adoption Awareness Month, and the 20th will be the 11th annual National Adoption Day. This year the adoption month theme is "You don't have to be perfect to be a perfect parent."

Kids were made to be in a family, with real parents. No family is perfect, and I don't think I have ever met a perfect parent, have you?  About the time parents near "perfection," their children are all gone and living on their own. Though adoption is never perfect, I do think that parents who are considering adoption need to be perfectly prepared and informed before they take this big step.

Adoption is riddled with acts of love by all involved.  And once understood and fully appreciated by the adopted child (usually in their 20's), they will understand God's desire to adopt each of us to be a part of His family.  As pure and undefiled as this act is, the act of adoption can still have difficulties and struggles, just as God often experiences struggles and sometimes rejection by His children.

It may seem from my following thoughts and warnings that I'm against adoption, but the opposite is true. In fact, I sit on the board of directors of an international adoption agency and some time ago I regularly worked with adoption agencies as the CEO of the National Association of Christian Child and Family Agencies.  But I have to balance my own zeal for adoption with my experience of dealing with hundreds of parents who have contacted me over the years after running into an emotional firestorm when their adopted child reached the teen years.

Most of my experience has to do with the adopted kids who have come to live with us at Heartlight -- kids who were struggling with serious behavioral issues. In fact, about one third of all the teens who have ever come to live with us in our residential counseling program have been adopted. That's a pretty high ratio, since we don't target helping adopted children in our program.

I'm sure that none of the parents thought that they would have to send their child away one day, nor anticipate that things would go wrong. But things did go wrong... to the point that the child could no longer live at home. 

That's big. It's bigger than just big. I would call it a crisis. It is a situation that no parent would hope for when adopting, but it is something to be prepared for.

I have had parents tell me that they wish someone would have asked them some deeper questions before they made the decision to adopt. And others who say that they wished they would have listened when someone did try to forewarn them about the possible future emotional struggles or mental and behavioral effects of alcohol or drug abuse during pregnancy by the child's birth mother. Some have even shared how they wish someone would have stopped their adoption from happening.

So whose fault is it when something does go "wrong"? The adopted infant who, at the very least, had no say in the adoption?  Or the older child when adopted, who out of a longing to have a family agreed to all conditions presented to him or her?  Or the parents, who out of the goodness of their hearts decided to bring a precious child into their family?  Or the adoption agency that feels a call from God to help children and families by bringing them both together to fulfill one of God's greatest plans?  Or God Himself who created a world that has over 50 million orphans in it? 

You can figure all you want. But there's only one thing that you have control over. As a parent, you can check your motives, see if adoption is right for you, and be prepared for everything that lies ahead.  All things being equal among teens, the adopted child has more of a proclivity to struggle.