Monday, November 15, 2010

National Adoption Awareness Month - Week 3

There comes a point during the application process when prospective adoptive parents must complete paperwork identifying what type of child they are open to adopting. I remember filling out this form during both our adoptions and each time feeling the full weight of the moment settle on my shoulders. It's one thing to know you want to adopt a fairly healthy infant, its another thing to look at a checklist of medical conditions and understand that your answers to these questions mean rejecting real, waiting children in need of a home.

Filling out that form is a moment a lot of prospective parents dread. It feels wrong, for example, to actually check "no" when asked if you are open to adopting a child with fetal alcohol syndrome. It feels like you're saying these lives don't matter, that these children aren't "good enough". It's not an easy moment. However, it's an essential step in the process to ensure that children are placed with families that have the desire and capability to parent them.

Because that's what adoption is about - the desire to parent a child.

I'm not saying that the opportunity to help a waiting child is not a factor in many people's decision to adopt, but the bottom line is the choice to adopt has to stem from the desire to be a parent.

Adoption is not an act of charity.

I think that's an important point to make this month. Adoption is wonderful, but it is not the solution to the orphan crisis. Even if it was, there are an estimated 143 million orphans in the world. Adoptions barely put a dent in that number. Plus, it does nothing to address the extreme poverty and cultural issues that make adoption necessary in the first place.

Adoption is far from the only answer; its important to be aware of that. Just because you are not adopting or just because you are not adopting a child with special needs, doesn't mean you can't be part of the solution for those 143 million children. It doesn't mean you can't help end the poverty and societal pressures that leave so many families no other choice than to hand their children over to someone else.

You can help someone like my friend Deanna. Deanna's daughter Ragen has down syndrome and she and her husband Rob have recently decided the best way to expand their family is by adopting Melanie, another child with down syndrome. They are working with Reece's Rainbow, an organization helping orphans with down syndrome and other serious special needs around the world. Consider contributing to Melanie's adoption fund or supporting other RR children and families.

You can help by becoming a sponsor of Eastern Social Welfare Society, the Korean organization that coordinated Buster's foster care and adoption. Although ESWS's primary focus is adoption, they continue to expand their services to better assist those in need. This includes operating homes for disabled children, children unavailable for adoption and single mothers. They also provide financial support to students from low income families and to single mothers who choose to parent their children despite the intense social pressures they face in doing so.

You can help by supporting Mayan Families, a small organization providing services to people in one of Guatemala's poorest regions. In addition to meeting the community's immediate needs for food, shelter and medical care, a primary goal of the group is to provide long term solutions for families in need. Among other things, this program provides educational opportunities to adults as well as children and supplies other essentials, such as water filters & chickens, that families need to stay together and break the vicious cycle of poverty.

Reece's Rainbow, ESWS and Mayan Families are just 3 of countless organizations and individuals trying to make a difference. It's easy to say "someone should adopt them", but the reality is adoption will only be the answer for a small percentage of the 143 million orphans in need. In a month dedicated to raising awareness about adoption, I think its equally as important to acknowledge that it takes more than adoption to help those 143 million children and to find ways to save future children and families from the same fate.


  1. You know I feel strongly about this as well. Thank you for making others aware of specific areas they can help in if they are so led.

  2. Great post! Thanks for listing all the resources.

    One of my hardest moments is when people look at me and remark about the charity angle of adoption. That's not why I got into it...

  3. very well said. thanks for all the links and the ways to support!
    p.s. i *hate* when people tell us how "good" we are for adopting. not why i'm doing it, folks!

  4. THese posts are so thoughful and so true!

  5. Awesome post and well said! Thanks for the links too.