Adoption Truth: I’m Not Amazing
So, something has been on my mind lately, and so I thought, why not write about it.
Often people say things to us like
You are so amazing for adopting a child who has no home.
You are such wonderful people for adopting an unwanted child.
If only more people were like you and could love a child who needs love.
Your child is going to be so fortunate that you adopt them.
You are going to save a child.
These comments used to really bother me and still do for that matter. I hear them so much now that I’m trying to get used to them and when appropriate I try to correct and educate.
But here’s the thing. We, Mr. MPB and I, are not amazing adoptive parents. In fact, I’d say we are the furthest thing from it.
First, Mr. MPB and I are adopting because WE want to have a family and raise a child or two. Our primary drivers are neither to save a child or be amazing people.
Second, all adoptive parents share a few things in common. We have been approved as parents. No matter how you adopt, or where you adopt from, adoptive parents have to be screened. This means we all demonstrate that they are dedicated, are medically healthy, have a stable marriage/relationship, have decent mental health, have good family/friends support and are generally decent people. And more often then not, we are all chosing adoption out of necessity as we cannot have children any other way (possibly due to recurrent pregnancy loss like Mr. MPB and I, or being unable to conceive like countless other couples). The reality is, adoptive parents must share some pretty key characteristics in order to be adoptive parents.
Third, based on the adoption options (international from an orphanage, foster system and open infant adoption), we chose the least needed* type of adoption.
- We did not chose to adopt from an international country where children are in orphanage and have little to no hope of ever being adopted into a family within their own country. These children have often lived in institutions for most of their lives. Most often with limited one-on-one time with caregivers, frequently with insufficient food and inadequate health care. These children really need to be adopted to have a better life. Parents adopting from these situations take a big leap of faith, having little to no knowledge of the child’s prenatal care or exposure to substances, etc.
- We also did not chose to adopt from the local foster system, where there are more children then there are adoptive parents. The reality is that this is where the children in need of a long term stable family and home are, like really in need. And, the reality is that we, like so many others, have not chosen this path, leaving children in the foster system without a permanent home and family. Just writing that sentence makes my heart break, because really we’ve chosen not to help a child in need. There are many reasons people chose not to adopt from the foster system – it’s hard to get infants, the bureaucracy is painful, the unknown duration of a placements are hard on families, the children’s histories (biological, and emotional) are most often unknown, etc. The reality is, that by not adopting from the foster system, we are not changing someones life.
Ultimately, our choice was that of a open infant adoption, where there are more hopeful waiting adoptive parents then there are children. The line-up of approved waiting parents is long and the wait exists because there are more waiting adoptive parents then there are children. And, I would argue that our decision to adopt is not changing that child’s life drastically because if we don’t adopt the child, someone else will and they will have a similar(ish) lifestyle. By similar(ish) I mean, the fact that all waiting adoptive parents have to be approved to adopt and what sticks out with open infant adoption is that because we are adopting in the private open-adoption system, all approved adoptive parents have at least some money to be able to afford it. This means, if we don’t adopt a child that we are matched with (for some reason), someone else will and in all likelihood they will have decent parents. Oh, and because we are choosing open adoption we are also able to set criteria and influence the type of child we will raise (i.e. substance abuse, race, etc.).
Heck, we’ve even chosen to go out of country and pay more in hopes of speeding up our match with an infant – I’d say in the adoption world, we are the furthest thing from a amazing. And in fact, our motivation to pursue adoption is selfish – we want to be parents to a relatively healthy child, and we are doing everything we can to make our dream a reality. Yes, a child will benefit being raised by us as we are decent people, but our child will be no more fortunate to be raised by us then they will be to be raised by another waiting couple.
We are not saving a child, rather our child will make our dreams come true, and for that we will forever owe them and their birth parents who chose us.
* note that I am making some sweeping statements, based largely in generalizations. I realize all of my statements are not always true in every circumstance.
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