Written by: Meghann Chiappa, Adoptive Parent Case Manager and Director of Foster Care

This is my favorite time of year—the start of fall and all things pumpkin, apple picking, sleeping with the windows open, saying goodbye to my bathing suit, and saying hello to the beginning of football season. A few Sundays ago, I embraced the season, cooked meatballs in the crockpot, with home made sauce, invited family over for the Eagles game, and proudly wore my Brian Dawkins jersey. And then the Eagles had a horrible game and lost to long-time rival the Dallas Cowboys. I had that familiar experience as an Eagles fan—disappointment and confusion as to what happened. Ah, the torture of being a Philadelphia sports fan!

That night at bedtime, my 7 year old (who does not care at all about football and spent the entire game playing dress up with her cousin) asked me about my jersey and whose name was on it. When I told her Brian Dawkins, she asked me why I had his jersey. I told her that he was my favorite Eagles player because, every game, he played his hardest and left it all on the field. He was positive, the team leader, always pumped up his teammates and believed in himself and his team. I loved to watch him play because he never gave up. As I explained that to my daughter, I realized how those traits—never giving up, staying positive, and believing in yourself—are the ones that I see reflected when I work with adoptive parents.

Every day, adoptive parents face the unknown with a quiet courage. They do not know what the future holds, but they are hopeful. They do not know what their end will look like, but they have faith.  When families start the adoption journey, they have often endured multiple fertility treatments and many times significant loss. They have struggled, they have been knocked down, and sometimes felt they could never get up.  But they do get up—they keep moving forward towards their dream of someday being someone’s mom or dad..  Or they have gone through a painful disrupted adoption. They were matched with a biological mother, saw ultrasound pictures, even held the baby in the hospital, and then the biological mother decided to parent. They mourn their loss, but they keep going, with beautiful grace and cautious optimism.

Adoptive parents stay positive. Yes, they have times where they break down, and times where they question whether all their struggles are too much.  They have times of anger, hurt and jealousy.  But they have times of hope.  Of courage.  Of determination.  Adoption is a time in which adoptive families place their trust in a stranger, where they open their hearts fully and embrace the unknown. It is a journey towards growth, towards family, towards love.

Adoptive families believe in not only themselves, but in the support system around them. When a couple is adopting together, they are strong in their knowledge of the love they have to give and of their ability to be wonderful parents. They trust that their friends and families will support them, will mourn with them at times of loss, and will celebrate with them in times of joy. They also believe in the biological parents they encounter on their journey. Adoptive families acknowledge the sacrifice and strength of biological parents and believe in their ability to make the best decision for their unborn child. And that decision is not always adoption.  I have been inspired by adoptive parents who support biological parents when they make the decision to parent, who wish them well, and pray for them. Adoption is a scary leap of faith, and adoptive parents have incredible faith.

Every Sunday, NFL players take the field and have to be strong, positive, and fight hard. Adoptive parents do this every single day. If they made jerseys with the names of adoptive parents on the back, I would proudly wear one.