Last week this article was making the rounds on the internet: READ HERE
The article was about four siblings (ages 1, 3, 5, and 10) who were currently in foster care, but were now in need of a forever home. It read like a typical adoption profile complete with phrases like “the sweetest kids ever!” and “very smart!”
It gave a brief biography about each child, detailing the good and winking around the not-so good. The article was topped off by a photo of the four children, dressed in their color-coordinated Sunday best and smiling happily for all the world to consider.
(Cue sad music and Sarah McLachlan voiceover.)
Now because I have two adopted sons and because I have written a book about my experiences adopting, several friends thoughtfully posted the article on my social media.
I read it. I considered the photo. And then I got mad.
I was offended.
I hated the article. It minimized our adoption journey. It diminished our children’s story.
I have no doubt that the motivations in publishing this glorified adoption profile were pure. I am confident that The Northwest Florida Daily News meant only to draw attention to adoption and for that I applaud them.
There are more than 400,000 children in foster care with nearly one quarter of that number in need of a forever home, so adoption needs a voice.
But with its frame-ready photo and easy-breezy narrative this article served only to trivialize the adoption process. Certainly the comments on social media as well as those in the original NWF Daily News posting did just that with (supposedly) well-meaning people writing:
“I want them all! Please contact us.”
“Aww! They are so cute! I want them!”
“Are they free?”
“I’ll take them! I want babies.”
“Bring them on. I’ll take all four!”
First, adoption is not that easy. You cannot just say, “I’ll take them!” People interested in adoption first must be certified as a viable resource foster parent. In Pennsylvania this certification is a rigorous months-long process that requires more than 40 hours of parenting classes, FBI background checks, mountains of paperwork, references, a home study…the list goes on.
Then after being certified, prospective parents enter the matching phase. This back-and-forth between your caseworker and the caseworker of a waiting child can take anywhere from two weeks to two years…or more.
Becoming a parent is hard work.
These kids have already had one set of parents disappoint them. The last thing they need is to have another set of jokers flake on them. Simply put, if you’re the kind of person given to making statements like, “Bring them on. I’ll take all four!” then adoption is not for you.
Second, these are children. They are not puppies. I repeat, they are not puppies. This is not a craigslist ad. These children are not for sale. Their level of cuteness is irrelevant. These are real people with real problems. Most of these kids have been through shit that we can’t even imagine. They have been neglected and abused and abandoned, often multiple times, the victims of a system meant to protect them but one that seems hell-bent on breaking them.
So if you want these children, then do something. Stop making comments and start taking action. These children are more than a trending diversion in your newsfeed. They require more than your momentary consideration. They deserve more than your well-meaning empty declarations.
You see a cute photo.
I see a lifelong commitment.