November is National Adoption Month, and I am an adoptee. I was not adopted because I was an orphan or because I was in foster care. My adoptive parents did not rescue me from starvation or disease (or any of the other horrors people give as reasons for adopting from countries less developed than the United States). My parents adopted me because they wanted to be parents, but they were physically unable to have a child the old-fashioned way.
Why was I available to be adopted? Because my birth mother was a teenager whose father was ashamed of her becoming pregnant. I can’t say for certain exactly why he felt so ashamed that he refused to allow my birth mother to keep me. My best guess is that his shame resulted from a combination of societal and familial pressures. Whatever the case, it was shame that caused me to be available for adoption. Unfortunately, the adoption professionals involved in my case sided with my grandfather against my birth mother. They offered no support to help her find a way to keep me.
I believe adoption can be a good thing. There are kids without parents who need families. And there are people unable to conceive who could create wonderful families for those kids. When those connections happen, adoption is indeed a very good thing. Some women certainly do relinquish their babies because they truly don’t want to be mothers, and when other people step up to raise those children, adoption is a good thing.
But during this National Adoption Month, my hope is that we can all remember that adoption should be, first and foremost, for the good of the child. The goal of adoption should not be to find children for want-to-be parents, but to find parents for children in need. I believe that the best option for any child is to be raised by his or her own birth family. Only when that scenario is impossible should a child be put up for adoption, because adoption resonates through generations.