We join President Bush in honoring our adoptive and foster parents throughout November as they raise our most precious commodity: children of conviction and character.
Our own Clinical Psychologist, Dr. Liz Hale, is a tremendous fan of the adoption process. Just looking at these open adoptions, Dr. Liz, you can see that it’s all about love.
When it comes to adoptions, “Love” is indeed the operative word. Perhaps that is the biggest misunderstanding of birth mothers and birth fathers. When we don’t have a better understanding, we might wonder, “How could anyone give their child away?” In all respect, that is a very short-sighted question. Birth parents place their babies with stable, secure, loving adoptive parents when that couple can provide everything for their child that the birth parents personally cannot. The question I propose is how could anyone in this painful situation NOT consider adoption? I have great respect for both birth parents AND adoptive couples – they both make unbelievable sacrifices for their children. They both have my greatest admiration.
Birth parents are still “parents,” but they have relinquished the “parenting.” Adoption doesn’t take away from the fact that that child is still the child they gave birth to. When birth mothers call their child “my child,” many of the adoptive couples I’ve visited with are not offended. When I think of the definition of “parent,” I think of someone who loves, adores, protects, provides, secures, sacrifices, is selfless, puts their child’s interest first….a birth parent in tandem with an adoptive couple ensures that a child has all that. Kids have superheroes in their lives…but I can’t think of a better superhero than a birth mother.
Some adoptive couples and even birth parents are uncomfortable with the idea of an “open adoption” and worry there may be harm of confusion in so much openness. Open adoptions have been around for quite some time. It has proven better for a child to have more information. Not every adopted child requires a great deal of information but for many, it seems to prove a great deal of comfort. There is also a great deal of peace-of-mind offered to birth parents, as well, however openness is not for everyone. There is great flexibility between closed and open adoptions – there are many things that can be personally negotiated between adoptive couples and birth parents so know that anything is possible. Should any line be crossed, it’s up to adoptive parents to set the boundaries. That’s what good parents do!
Be a Foster Parent
For those wanting to bring children into their home, start by looking at being a foster parent. There are over 513,000 American youth in foster care. No matter how much time you have to give, you can do something positive that will “change a lifetime” for a young person in foster care.
Resources to Note:
Spread the Adoption Word
It is important to spread the word that you are hoping to adopt a child. Brad and Brenda Horrocks are a dear couple I know who have already adopted two children. They would like to adopt another child—they believe they have one more coming to their family so they will continue to inform everyone they know. Just before they adopted their son, they held an Adoption Kick-off and invited all their family, friends, church members, and neighbors to a party where they educated everyone on adoption. They made the plea to have their support group be open to telling any birth mother they knew who was open to adoption about the Horrocks family. Brad and Brenda had their adoptive profile on many websites, such as:
At their kick-off, they had little note cards printed, like business cards, introducing themselves and their desire to adopt. A potential birth mother could go to a website and find out more about them. (Cameron’s birth mother found the Horrock’s family on a website.) And, Haley’s birth mother, Sara, had a friend that worked with Brad who was the first person to even mention the option of adoption to Sara. You never know when you can provide an instrumental link between birth parents and adoptive couples. And we all have a responsibility, Brooke, to suggest adoption to someone who is in a tough situation to care for themselves, let alone a newborn.
Ask, “What Can I Do?”
For those who are not in a position to adopt or be a foster parent, there are still ways to help. Kids in foster care are often in need of suitcases or toys. Start a toy drive for these children or for other children – those who are receiving cancer treatments in a local hospital, for example. Our service can even be less direct: clean up a local park or offer to paint over a wall covered in graffiti, or stay up-to-date on local and national policies and simply vote during elections! This time of year, start saving shopping money for the holidays to provide gifts to a family or children living in a local shelter. Another great resource is 211 – there your time and energy can be matched with needs in our community.
Acknowledge Children of all Ages
There are many other ways to make a difference in the lives of a child. The little things can make a big difference. Speak to every child you meet, with courtesy and kindness. It really doesn’t take much effort to make a positive impact on a child’s life especially those who may have little going for them. Take an interest in a neighbor child or a child in your extended family – never underestimate the power of your attention and acceptance. Parents are thrilled to add to their child’s life other adults to love, encourage, and support their little ones (and big ones!) One of the most important questions we can ever ask ourselves is “What and how can I be of service?” It doesn’t take a Harvard degree of millions of dollars to make a difference in a child’s life….it just really takes a commitment and will to do better.
We need to raise the bar on our expectations and that each one of us is responsible for creating a better world, whether we are parents or not. We are all responsible for keeping families together. There would be no infidelity if there was one agreeing to infidelity and potentially breaking up marriages and families. There would be fewer single-parent families if there were more of us agreeing that it’s in the best interest of a child to have both a mom and a dad to raise and care for them. Do not settle for mediocrity – let’s expect more of ourselves and want more for our children. If we don’t keep raising the bar, the bar will fall and the greatest victims will be our children.
Please click here (www.drlizhale.com) for more information and to add your comments!