I am pretty sure I would come up against some radical opposition for what I’m about to suggest needs to happen to foster care and adoption, but, that’s okay.
I think that people looking to adopt should adopt a mother and child and/or a whole family, if necessary – for the child’s true well-being – and not just take a living person’s child to raise as their own. I dream of a day when people will look back on our history of a society that did such a thing as procure a child for a childless couple – for a price – and the generations of the future will call it what it is: among the darkest of the deeds of the dim ages.
And when it comes to child welfare, how is it good to take an already horrible situation for the child and rip the child away from his or her mother and/or father? How is that a good thing? How is it good for kids to be passed from place-to-place, confused about what’s going on, dealing with the loss of a mommy and daddy on top of everything else they’ve already been through? The change that needs to take place is instead of a child getting placed with a family, foster families should be extensively trained and proven capable of taking on such wounded people in the first place, and they ought to take in the family unit as a whole. Parents who put their kids at risk should be sent to parenting boot camp, with their every move scrutinized for long periods of time by these well-trained foster families until they’ve proven capable of parenting on their own – much the way rehab for addicts is set up! The process of teaching people to parent should be given daily attention, a full day’s worth, while the child is kept out of harm’s way – just like in rehab! If the parents prove they cannot or will not change for the betterment of the child, then, okay, start the process of making new arrangements for the placement of the child elsewhere. At least in this more humane way of dealing with child endangerment, a whole battery of new wounds will not have been inflicted in the process of finding that out. Not that there won’t be wounds…they just will not have been compounded by an unjust system.
On the adoption front, pregnant women should be empowered to parent their children if there is any glimmer of a question that she might perhaps actually find that, deep down, she wants to be a mother to her child but doesn’t believe she can, for whatever reason or reasons. No one should take a woman’s word for it when she says she wants to relinquish! That could be just the fear talking, and she should be given every opportunity to see for herself if it’s just the fear talking. She should be asked what it would take for her not to relinquish and challenged to really think about it. The heart of her fears should be addressed. Single parenthood, while not the ideal, is not the end of the world for a child. The depth of the loss, though, can certainly feel like the world should end, for birthmothers, and sometimes even birthfathers, and, while it’s not talked about very much, yes, even the relinquished children. This fracturing of the family leaves one with a sense that all is not right with the world and never will be – the polar opposite of how it felt when I was a mother (throughout the pregnancy and the 5 days I parented my son).
For years, and for the sake of surviving it, I justified it by thinking and saying I’d have a lot more regrets if I’d raised him because of the 2 years that followed giving birth. I am not able to speak of the depth of it just now as it is a dark and painful thing to drudge up. If I’d known that I’d be covered during those dark times I sensed coming even long before becoming pregnant, I know beyond all doubt I’d have jumped at that chance! If someone would have said, “I’ve got you! I’ve got your back,” and let me do what I had to do to get well while ensuring my child would be safe and I’d have access to him in a safe situation, I’m pretty sure it would have been a light in a very dark place that would have made all the difference.
Maybe I’m a dreamer. But without dreams, not much is possible – especially not change.
To break it down to a more personal note: my son is just that: my son! He may be a lot of things to a lot of people in this world – including son to his adoptive parents. He may even be more than a son to me someday, but, first and foremost, he is and will always be my son. Though he may never acknowledge it, I have acknowledged it from the day of his birth, to this very day, and that is who he is to me. I got cold-cocked by a bunch of puny little lies telling me I didn’t deserve to be his mom. But nothing changes the truth: the day my son was born, a mom was born too. I’m that mom. It all got fractured. I got broken, and that family unit that was born that day in March of 1992 got broken, but it still happened that I conceived him, I birthed him, I cared for him, and never stopped caring. I was a mom to him for that precious moment in time, and I loved every minute of it – in a unique way like I’ve never loved anything else.