We have heard from the amazing Fifita family once before and how their 13 children miraculously came into their family. Today, mom Linda talks about raising biological and adopted children. This is a concern that we hear from some families who will have both. Are there going to be differences? How will it all work out? We are so blessed to have Linda’s insight on this subject:

From Linda:

Conception is truly a miracle! To be able to be the part of a child being born into the world is simply indescribable. It has been our blessing to have been a part of the conception of thirteen children in our family. Four of those children, I was fortunate to be the one who delivered them into this world. For nine of our children, another woman was chosen to be blessed to deliver them. Either way, these children have come into our family and become a part of our eternal lives. Regardless of how God delivered our children to our family, I will eternally be grateful He chose me to be a mother. It was always the desire of my heart and I am so grateful our Heavenly Father allowed me the honor of bearing this title.

I have often been asked if it is “different” raising biological children and adopted children. In some ways I almost want to laugh at the comment. A child is a child. Raising children is raising children. There are, however, many things I have learned in the process of bringing our family together and rearing our children.

Pregnancy and Adoption are both difficult

One of my biggest frustrations is when someone will make the comment about adoption, “Oh you got your child the easy way.” I don’t hear this quite as often now as I did when I was first a mother. It has been my experience that bringing a child into the world is not easy. Adoption is not an easy process. It is difficult. It is hard. And at times, you simply want to give up. However, pregnancy is not an easy process. Pregnancy, too, is extremely difficult. My pregnancies with our children were anything but easy. I spent many months on bed rest and contracted nearly the entire nine months. I nearly lost my life in the delivery of my son. But, in the process of our adoptions I felt like I would lose my life in the emotional stresses of the adoption circle. Through the processes of pregnancy and adoption I have learned that nothing worth having comes free. Pain is a natural part of the opposition required to bind us to those we love. The trials, struggles, and tears were all part of the process in both delivering a child and in adopting one.

I will never forget the day my first daughter was placed into my arms. I was literally shaking with fear that God had entrusted this little soul to me. I was humbled at her big brown eyes that looked at me as if to say, “I am here. Now, help me learn so I can return back home.”

I will always remember, too, the day I held my first adopted son. Through sacred spiritual experiences I was fortunate to see him before he arrived in our family. We first held him many years later. I was in a hotel room in a state far from home and I was looking into his round, fat face and bald head. My social worker called and asked, “Linda, does he fulfill your dreams?” At the time I told him, “Oh yes. He truly does.” However, it wasn’t until six months later that I truly came to see God’s miracle. Even though I cared for this little boy, loved him, and took him into my heart, it was our sealing day that “sealed” him as mine. I recall looking at his beautiful face as he sat on the altar of the temple. As he smiled at me and the words were pronounced sealing him to us, there was a physical feeling that I cannot describe that actually changed me! I wish I could describe how it felt, but this feeling filled my heart and my son became mine! A few days later, I took him to have his picture taken. He was sitting tall with his long, slender face and curly hair wearing a white tuxedo I had made for him. When I saw him I realized that this was the exact picture I had been privileged to see in my dream so many years before. I melted on the floor in tears. The poor photographer must have felt awful as I sobbed in her studio. This experience was a testimony to me that this little boy was always (and had always been) my child. He had come to our family through a special delivery! I had often thought of adoption as a plan “B” in my life but this experience showed me that adoption was always our Heavenly Father’s plan “A” for us. We simply needed to embrace it!

This same experience has happened time and again as our adopted children have entered our home and been sealed to our hearts. In the daily grind of being a parent, it doesn’t matter where they came from or how they arrived on earth. Raising children is a sacred responsibility that we have to take seriously. These children are not “our” children. They are our Heavenly Father’s and it is our responsibility as parents to guide them back home!

Make Adoption a Family Experience

As our first adoption began, we made it a matter of “family” discussion what we were going to do. Our children were deeply involved in the process of our adopted children coming into our home. If something was happening in the adoption process “roller coaster ride”, our children came along. As we were receiving inspiration to having children come, we would challenge our children to get their own witness of a new brother or sister coming to our family. There were times when it was not something our children wanted to do, especially as our family became ever larger and our children got older. However, as the babies would arrive, we found that our family was happy because we had involved them and they welcomed their new sibling.

Make Adoption a Special

With our adopted children, we have found it valuable to do things to remind them of how amazing their arrival into our family truly was. For each of our adopted children, I wrote them a story of their arrival into our family. I wrote their stories into an “Adoption Storybook” complete with pictures of their beautiful birth families. These books are ones the children can use to take to special school days so share with their friends. We want them to grow up to be adoption advocates! Adoption is a beautiful process that needs to be celebrated and shared openly. Each was a blessing and a gift from God. I wanted them to know that they were wanted, prayed for, cried for, and that once they were here, we were grateful for them. We find it valuable to talk with others and be honest about the fact that they are adopted. I can’t imagine anything more hurtful than to find out that your parents had not told you the truth of your miraculous arrival into your family!

Each of our family members has a special “song” that reminds us of them. For Christmas, one year, I made a CD for them with all of our family songs on it. Each of these things has bonded our family as we realize we are an eternal unit!

Adoption Considerations

There are special considerations that arise with adoption. One particularly difficult one can be the involvement of birth parents in your family. We have had to take our birth parent relationships one person at a time, one adoption at a time. There are some situations which make it very open and we have amazing relationships with our birth parents. Others, we have had to limit or completely dissolve. None of these situations has been easy. We continually pray we are doing what is best for all involved.

Perhaps my greatest feeling is simply that our families are our gifts from God. How we treat that gift and care for it is our gift back to Him. It is my prayer that all my children know of my love for them and my gratitude that they can call me “Mother.”