A mommy, a daddy, the belief that all children are entitled to a family, the belief that all who want to be parents will excel at the life-long process involved in raising children. These beliefs, cherished by all cultures, are the foundation for adoption. Yet, in reality, society doesn’t always wholeheartedly support an adopted child or those who create a home for them.
Adoption occurs when biological parents, who are usually also the legal parents, transfer over complete and permanent rights and obligations to raising a child. These legal parents usually freely choose adoption and willingly sign the necessary consent forms. However, when a child has been subjected to abuse or neglect, or even abandoned, the courts may order that the child be ‘put out for adoption.’ In the court-ordered cases, the child usually remains in a foster home until he is about six or seven years old before being placed for adoption.
The differences between adoption and foster homes are reflected in the permanence of adoption. Foster homes are always considered temporary, and foster parents have no legal rights as to the long-term care of the child, even if the courts order the child returned to an abusive environment. A child may have many sets of foster parents over the years; adoptive parents are technically there for the lifetime of the child.
Many myths abound about the mental, emotional and physical well-being of an adopted child, and that’s exactly what 99% are: only myths. The ‘poor little adopted child’ in reality is usually a well-fed, loved, delightful child who has been given opportunities that exceed what many ‘non-adopted’ children receive. The adopted child has been spared from living under circumstances where he is not wanted, or where, although wanted, the parents couldn’t take care of him.
The challenges come more from the reactions of society than from the home circumstances. In our society today outsiders still sometimes rudely ask a child born in a different country,”What are you?” (referring to their race). When a white-skinned person adopts an African American child many in society still look on with a frown at the grocery store.
Another myth is that the adopted child will always feel ‘rejected,’ yet that word ‘always’ should be watched. Most psychologists and social workers have come to understand that a person raised in its biological home is just as apt to feel rejected as an adopted child. It all depends on the circumstances and how much bonding and love and attention is experienced.
Growing up to be a responsible adult is a challenge for people raised under any circumstances. Sometimes people choose not to be responsible and make excuses about how they were raised. For those people, if they were adopted, that is a convenient excuse, although usually it is not an accurate representation.
Curiosity is part of human nature. For those who are adopted, it is natural to wonder who their biological parents were and what became of them. The love they feel for those who have raised them does not diminish by this curiosity. And, it is natural for the biological parents to wonder what became of their baby or child.
Yet, for all concerned, the past is like a cancelled check you can’t keep spending it. Whether adopted or not, here and now is where we are living! How fortunate we are that adoption exists so dreams of being part of a family can be a delightful reality for all.