My heart was broken by the thought of so many children without loving homes, but I had no idea what to do about it. I was young and definitely not ready to start a family of my own. Still, I couldn’t shake the feeling that adoption would play an important role in my life. Over the years, I learned about adoption and foster care, and I always wondered if adopting would be part of my family’s story someday. I even worked for the organization, CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocates) whose mission is to find a safe, loving home for every child! The more I learned and surrounded myself with adoptive parents, the more I realized just how important adoption is and especially an adoption agency that can support LGBT adoption rights.
Yes, there are three sides to the adoption triad, but the child is easily the most important person involved. It’s easy for the majority of people to see the needs of the child when considering the importance of adoption. Kids are dependent on adults for survival and have little to no say in the decisions being made in regards to their lives. It is our responsibility and obligation to do our very best to put our child’s needs first when making decisions and plans for adoption.
So how many kids are we talking about here anyway? There are literally millions of children in need of a safe and loving home! Personally, these numbers are staggering and are easily THE most important reason for adoption. It’s tragic to think of children without homes and families, and although the processes can be intimidating, adoption offers a way to help!
UNICEF records that there are more than 15 million orphans waiting to be adopted worldwide. Over 400,000 children are in foster care in the U.S. on any given day, and on average, they will spend 2 years in the foster care system.
Birth mothers are the third piece of this story and another very important reason for adoption. Approximately 50% of U.S. pregnancies are unintended. While some women have the means and desire to parent, many feel alone and completely lack the resources they want or need to raise a child. Many others will decide that they simply can’t provide the life they desire for their child for any number of reasons.
Whatever the deciding factors, birth mothers are women who are willing to make the brave, difficult, and often heartbreaking choice to give birth to their child and then place their baby with another family. Sadly, for many women, this decision can result in shame or embarrassment, but there is an increasing number of birth mothers sharing their stories and experiences in an effort to remove the stigma that may have once existed. There are more resources than ever for birth mothers to find acceptance and community and to own their voice in the triad!
Open adoptions are increasingly possible, and encouraged, for the sake of all three members of the triad. Some level of communication between birth moms and adoptive families can be good for healing and strengthening bonds between all parties. When done well, open adoption can be a beautiful celebration of the birth mom, adoptive parents, and the child.
Adoption is a very important way to grow a family. Today our definition of family is becoming much more inclusive, but however we choose to define it, the family is the building blocks of society. Families provide children with their first view of the world and their first tools for processing the things they find! However a family is formed, it is likely to be a bond that lasts a lifetime. So, we should have options for how to grow our families!
Over 6 million women in the U.S. experience infertility. That’s approximately 1 in 10 women between the ages of 15-44. These women are faced with very difficult choices if they want to grow a family. Infertility treatment and IVF can be invasive, extremely cost-prohibitive, and often has very low success rates. Adoption provides an avenue for many couples experiencing infertility to raise a child and grow the family they have dreamed about.
You’ve likely heard it said that it takes a village to raise a child. Adoption can be the best proof of that concept when done well. It takes work and a commitment to learning and growing. When adoptive parents and birth parents are willing to work together and support each other, the results can be a beautiful extended family that provides love, support, and safety for the child.
The beauty of this complicated process is that it always allows for extended community support as well. All growing families need extra support. It’s a time of adjustment that shakes up the “rhythms” at the core of everyone involved. The birth mom is healing as she grieves the disconnect from her baby, both physically and emotionally. Her time of grief and recovery is a perfect time for community members to step in and surround her with love and support. Organizations like Lifetime Healing Foundation offer education, support, and community for birth moms as well as adoption educators, adoptive families, and community members!