We recently visited some friends who have adopted two children. I was instantly impressed at what calm, patient, and attentive parents they were — as well as how well-behaved and interactive their kids were. Aside from the little one having a bit of stranger anxiety (which is entirely reasonable for his age), these children were fabulous — not at all warped or twisted by having been “taken away” from their biological parents.
When our friends realized that they couldn't conceive, they made the very practical decision to go out and buy some kids, rather than play “fertility roulette” — and I don't blame them in the least. I've watched folks go through IVF treatments, trying over and over to give birth, and it's a harrowing process. Not only is there a huge financial cost, but the emotional toll is more than most people I know could bear. How can these potential parents stand to have their hopes dashed again and again and again — each time an egg doesn't implant, or (even worse), a baby is miscarried? The unfortunate fact of the matter is that some people simply aren't built to have children — when you can't conceive or carry to term (especially when it happens 5 or 6 times), that's biology telling you something. I've seen lives ruined and marriages destroyed, all because of an unfulfillable desire to reproduce. But as Cindy said, “I asked myself whether I wanted to have a baby or be a mother, and the answer was 'be a mother.'” I just love that — no worries about whether the kid has his nose or her eyes, no concerns about creating a “mini-me” to carry on your genetic code, such a practical way to approach raising a child.
I firmly believe that adoptive parents are some of the best moms and dads around. Because they've made a conscious choice to bring a child into their lives, they tend to be more prepared for parenthood than folks who unexpectedly pop up pregnant. Statistically, they are usually of better means (and thus more able to provide things like good medical coverage and higher education than the average Joe) — because economic discrimination is built into the adoption process, to protect little ones from those who might take advantage of them. Certainly, we shouldn't just “give” kids away to anyone who answers a newspaper ad, as you might a free puppy — but I question the excessive nature of adoption fees (I'm not sure I would be willing to take out a loan for a $27,000 child, even if I wanted one!) And because these couples have let go of their baggage about genetics and bloodlines, they are often more focused on the child's well-being than their need to turn that offspring into a carbon-copy of themselves. I'm sure there are folks out there who adopt for the wrong reasons (just as some people conceive for the wrong reasons), but it's kind of like immigration — you aren't going to shell out a pile of money and go through months of interviews and documentation and third-party scrutiny on a whim. You have to be really serious about your decision to undergo such an exhausting and expensive process!
There's also the fact that, rather than increasing the population through childbirth, adoptive parents are actually helping to solve a serious social problem by taking in a baby that might not otherwise have a loving home — one of the most generous gifts that they can give not only that child, but the rest of society as well. The unfortunate fact of the matter is that most of the kids put up for adoption would, if they were to stay with their biological parents, be raised in less-than-ideal circumstances. But to my way of thinking, adoption gives these kids a second chance — not only to feel “wanted,” but to have a better quality of life and possibly go on to achieve more than they otherwise might. The adopting couple also has a second chance at being parents. It seems like a win-win to me, and I'm surprised that more folks who find themselves infertile don't choose this option.
Some people say that they ONLY want a child of their own, that they aren't sure if they could truly love a baby that isn't genetically related to them. My favorite response to this argument comes from the TV show “Mad Men” — Trudy tells her husband Pete, “We're not related by blood, and you love me.” Since when did you have to be tied by your DNA to someone to care about them? If that were the case, we would have no friends, no pets, and our species would die out very quickly from inbreeding, as you would be required to marry a cousin (you see how well that philosophy used to serve the Royals and why they eventually abandoned it!) But certainly if you feel this way, you shouldn't adopt — I'm sure it's better for folks in this situation to just go without.
I've also heard potential parents complain that with an adopted child, you never know what you're going to get — you might be burdening your family with unknown physical or psychological problems when you bring someone else's baby into your home. Well, that's true of any child. Even when you give birth, there are no guarantees (that's one of the reasons I don't have kids!) Until the day when genetic engineering becomes the norm, parenthood is a crapshoot — you always run the risk of deformity, developmental delays, chronic health problems, or even uncontrollable behavioral issues which don't manifest until years later (and despite your best efforts at raising your offspring the right way.) That's one of the joys of parenthood, dealing with the unexpected. And regardless of which route you go, you can't just change your mind if it doesn't work out like you had planned, returning the child to the store for a refund — but at least with adoption, you get a chance to view the merchandise before you buy!
I realize that a percentage of adoptees experience a lasting emotional “trauma” about feeling abandoned, but I think that has more to do with how the parents approach the subject than any inherent damage that switching families causes. When parents lie to their kids about their origin, speak ill of the birth parents, focus on the idea of being “unwanted,” or somehow hold the adoption over their heads — of course those children are going to have issues! But when you simply treat adoption as a fact of the child's life, nothing that makes him or her any less a part of your family, there's no reason for a kid not to be able to take the news in stride. My husband is adopted — and aside from the typical dysfunctionalities in any family, he seems to have turned out fine. He was brought home by my in-laws when he was 3 days old, he's always known that he was adopted, and he harbors no ill-will against his birth mother for “abandoning him” — in fact, Laurie has become a good friend of ours since she got back in contact with him just after his 30th birthday. Matt was raised in a family that was able to give him opportunities he might not have otherwise had, he is a productive member of society (most days, when he's not sitting in front of his X-Box) — and he's flat-out one of the most considerate, selfless, and moral people I've ever met. All-in-all, I would say that adoption was a positive experience for him — and I can't wait to watch our friends' children (who are also being raised in an honest and open environment) turn out just as well!
Ramona Creel is an award-winning 15-year veteran organizer and member of the National Association Of Professional Organizers. As well as having birthed “The A-To-Z Of Getting Organized,” Ramona is also the author of “The Professional Organizer’s Bible: A Slightly Irreverent And Completely Unorthodox Guide For Turning Clutter Into A Career”—and the creator of more than 200 “quick-start” business tools and templates for use by productivity professionals. She writes seven different blogs, has worked with hundreds of clients, and has delivered scores of presentations on getting organized. Ramona resides on the roads of America as a full-time RVer—living and working in a 29-foot Airstream with The Husbert and two fur-babies. Learn more at GettingOrganizedAToZ.com and RamonaCreel.com.
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