Today begins National Adoption Month, an initiative originally intended to raise awareness of the thousands of U.S. children in foster care who are waiting to be adopted because they cannot be reunified with their biological families.
The first day of this month is barely half over, and already I’ve seen joyous proclamations of “Happy National Adoption Month!” and “Celebrate National Adoption Month!”
This month is no holiday, people, especially not for those of us who are adopted.
Sure, I can imagine that if I had been in foster care for a number of years and had longed for a permanent home, I might be celebrating my adoption. Adoption can be a very good thing in those cases in which there is a definite need for a child to have stability and an adult in his life who can be counted on.
But even in those necessary cases of adoption, let’s not forget that a child has also lost just as much as she’s gained. Being in a position of needing to be adopted is not something anyone would wish for. It means that you’re separated from the very people nature intended you to be with. It means you lost your parents, one way or another, even if you’re still in contact with them on any kind of basis.
If a child’s parents died, we would not expect him to celebrate. If a child’s parents divorced and one parent was no longer involved in that child’s day-to-day life, we would not expect him to celebrate.
Yes, there may be positive aspects to an adoption, however all adoptions begin with a significant loss for the child.
Raising awareness of the needs of children in foster care is a worthy goal. Let’s not confuse that goal with trying to paint an unrealistically rainbow-covered picture of adoption.
Let’s also not forget that many adoptees, like myself, were never in need the way children in foster care waiting to be adopted are in need. Many adoptees, especially those adopted as infants, lost their parents due to circumstances that could have been prevented. Many adoptees did have other family members who could have raised them. Many adoptees did not need to be separated from their biological relatives.
For this reason, I ask you to please not celebrate my adoption. There are few things worse than the unnecessary loss of one’s family.