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Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Adopt Me!

There's an old joke that the first words spoken by a child born in Jersey City are..."Someone please adopt me!"

I'm from North Jersey, so I can say that!

Adoption is something that a lot of people look at as a last resort - if they can't have children, or if the chance of genetic damage is so great that it would be a perceived cruelty to give birth.

And that's a shame, because there is a crying need for more adoptive parents. Not for white infants in the USA, but for children whose luck has gone seriously down the tubes, and who face a childhood in an orphanage...with an uncertain future after they're discharged. All too often, they 'graduate' to a short and unhappy life of abuse, ranging from prostitution to impressed military service to grinding poverty in ghastly conditions, doing menial work.

There's a waiting list for white babies. For an African five-year-old, adoption is a miracle. For a Haitian ten-year-old, it's virtually beyond hope.

Why? The fact is that white people like white kids, and everyone wants a baby. It's assumed that it's easier to raise a baby, and this is true. Babies don't have much emotional baggage. Usually.

But the kids who need parents, who need that second chance, usually don't get it. And here, it's maybe time for adoption to become a conscious choice - a choice taken in place of having one's own child.

There are plenty of reasons why couples want kids of their own...

  • They want to experience the full passage to parenthood - from conception to college.\
  • They want to pass on their genetic material, in a child that will have recognizable traits from each parent (kind of hard to do if your kid was born an Ibo in Nigeria, and your ancestors came over on the Mayflower)
  • They want a clean slate - no memories of loss and sorrow to have to overcome
  • They want a child that'll present fewer challenges in the form of difference from the cultural norm
There's nothing intrinsically wrong with any of these lines of thinking, except that it's a zero-sum game. There are only so many homes to go around, and the total number of orphans in Sub-Saharan Africa alone is greater than the total number of children in Denmark, Ireland, Norway, Canada and Sweden combined. Over one million.

What will we tell them?


  1. I have a VERY DIFFICULT TIME leaving Bolivia and the hundreds of kids we see who beg or work for pennies. The sense of justice is raging alongside the maternal instinct. We sponsor a boy in El Salvador. When we chose which child to sponsor, I chose and older, not so cutesy boy who'd been on the waiting list for a long time. I KNOW the difference we've made in that kid's life and in the life of his family. We sent him some extra money last Christmas and he bought groceries for his family and then bought himself some new clothes for school. Child sponsorship through Compassion or World Vision in an excellent way to help kids who have nothing.
    Adoption is a wonderful thing, just ask my dd. We adopted him after he married my mom. Lots of grown-ups need adopting too.

  2. American children are often quite old when they "graduate" from the child protection system and come up for adoption. Because birth parents are given second and third and fourth and fifth chances.
    These children, in late childhood or preteens or teens, are a tough sell to adoptive parents. Especially because, as you mention, they come with emotional baggage. But they need a stable home so desperately, after bouncing back and forth between foster care and birth parents.

  3. Yes, I know this post is old, but I just had to comment :) I just thought it'd be fun to go back and read some about you and Barbara as I'm praying for you. You may not know, but we are a multi shaded adoptive family. It was something we discussed before we married, adopting the "unwanted" children. We thought it would be after we had "our own" but God had different plans. "Our own" ARE our adopted children. We have tons of fun, and even joke about "genetics" I wouldn't trade my family for anything, even children that I could birth from my own body. You are right, although it seems to be changing some, more and more people are open to adopting children that look different from them.