Sunday, September 20, 2009

Adoption Diaries

I have always had a fascination with adoption. While I don't want to have children, I have always felt that if I did I would adopt. I'm guessing that whatever it is inside me that drives me to rescue animals that other people have cast aside and deemed "less desirable" than other animals is what would drive me to adopt a child.

I have seen every episode of a An Adoption Story on Discovery Channel Health at least twice. Unfortunately they stopped making new episodes several years ago. So I was very excited when I heard that the Women's Entertainment (WE) was reviving the show. I have watched two episodes and don't plan on watching any more. The new show only focuses on open adoptions of newborns and doesn't even present the other types of adoptions that are out there.

I can understand the appeal of open adoption to a young mother who doesn't feel that she can raise the child but doesn't want to lose all communication with the child. And I guess if you really want to have a newborn baby then open adoption would appeal to prospective adoptive parents as well. Personally, if I carried a child to term, that would be my baby. I would find a way to make that child fit into my life. After being pregnant for 9 months and going through labor and all the emotional highs and lows that accompany the miracle that is childbirth I would be emotionally destroyed if I gave up that child. My husband had a vasectomy. We knew we didn't want children so we did the responsible thing rather than deal with an unwanted and unplanned pregnancy. But if we were in the <1% of people who find themselves pregnant after surgical sterilization then we would make it work. I am a strong believer that everything happens for a reason. Whether you want to call it religion or spirituality, I would not fight the universe if it were so determined to give my husband and I a child. I would accept that there were forces much greater than us plotting our future and not question it.

Millions of people do it every day but I just can't get past the adoptive parents having to share their child with the birth mom forever. The obligation to keep the birth mom in the child's life would just be too big a price to pay for me as an adoptive parent. The best part of the old show on Discovery Channel Health was that it focused on all different types of adoptions. There were open adoptions but there were also adoptions of older children domestically and abroad, the adoption of babies and infants domestically and abroad and the adoption of children by foster parents. By showing all of the different types of adoptions and how successful and happy the families were in the end it opened people's minds to the other options that were out there if you couldn't or didn't want to have a child naturally.

There is no shortage of parents looking to adopt newborn babies in this country. On the flip side, there are plenty of children that age out of foster care every year. Meaning that they live in a group home or foster families until they reach 18 years old and then are thrown out into the world to make a life for themselves. Can you imagine waiting for parents year after year after being abandoned by your birth parents? I can't imagine the psychological damage that this does to a person. The movie Antwone Fisher, starring Denzel Washington, tells the true story of someone who went through the experience of aging out of foster care and how it affected his life. The movie received mixed reviews but the message from the story is undeniable: growing up without a solid family structure prevents you from having a fully developing emotionally as a healthy adult. Note that a solid family structure can exist in a home with a single parent, grandparents/aunts/siblings and from a gay couple and an unstable homelife can come from a two parent household.

I think open adoption is a great option for people who insist on having a newborn child and I think it is a much more reasonable option than fertility treatments that lead to litters of children and present a greater health risk to both the other and the child. But I think that by only focusing on the segment of adoption that doesn't need any promotion, WE is doing quite a disservice to the general public and the unadopted children of this country.

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