Q: Some friends of ours are talking about possibly adopting a child. Honestly, my wife and I have never thought about doing that. But I've heard you're a big proponent of adoption, and I'm curious as to why.
Jim: Let's do some name-dropping: Babe Ruth. President Gerald Ford. Steve Jobs. Dave Thomas (the founder of Wendy's). These were all successful people, but they also share the distinct privilege of having been adopted.
I spent a year in the foster care system myself, so I know what it means to be an orphan. I also know the stability and nurture a loving adoptive family can provide a child.
That's why I never forget that there are thousands of children across the country and around the world who have the same need for a family to bring them into their home, to love them and to show them their worth. Adopting a child is a serious responsibility, but the rewards are priceless. And it can make all the difference in the life of a young person in need -- literally changing their entire future.
Not every adopted child will grow up to be a head-of-state like Nelson Mandela or the founder of a Fortune 500 company like Steve Jobs. But it's hard to overestimate the lifelong impact that growing up in a loving, adoptive family can have on a child. We all need love, a sense of worth and the security of knowing that we belong. Without the gift of adoption, many children will grow up without those things.
For more information about helping an adopted child to thrive -- or coming alongside a family that has adopted -- visit FocusOnTheFamily.com. And if you'd like to read some inspiring stories, I highly recommend a book by my friend Paul Batura titled "Chosen for Greatness: How Adoption Changes the World."
Q: In your professional opinion, what does a child need to grow up healthy and well-adjusted?
Danny Huerta, Vice President, Parenting and Youth: I've enjoyed working with kids since I was in high school in the early 1990s -- as a camp counselor, a sports coach and eventually as a licensed clinical social worker counseling families. What I have learned is that there are a lot of kids who are hungry for reassurance and love -- the kind of love that comes from families.
What is love in a family? It goes beyond meeting fundamental needs like security, food and shelter. It is unwavering, resilient, attentive and invested. It is steadfast and transforming. This type of love has patience with the endless imperfections of others. It listens and chooses to forgive, repairing damaged relationships.
Here are four of the many things kids need from their family besides the basic necessities:
1. Boundaries and limits. These are so important when it comes to technology and entertainment. They are also crucial with respect to friends, relationships and self-control.
2. Authentic feedback with permission to fail. A recent study found that 49 percent of kids post about their accomplishments on social media. Few, however, talk about their failures or mistakes. Kids want genuine feedback because it is difficult to trust a system where everyone is a winner, and no one struggles.
3. Relationships. Kids want a listening ear, laughter, mealtimes with family and conversation.
4. Mission and guidance. Set goals as a family and conquer them. Kids seek purpose, which produces hope. Conquering challenges as a family creates deeper bonds.
Love can always be expressed in various forms. That includes patience, direction, correction, attention, authentic feedback and sacrifice. Keep in mind that the more difficult the issues you address, the more love is required.
Jim Daly is a husband and father, an author, and president of Focus on the Family and host of the Focus on the Family radio program. Catch up with him at www.jimdalyblog.com or at www.facebook.com/DalyFocus.
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