Thursday, February 9, 2012

~ Is Adoption for Me? ~

Welcome to the first Family Size Blog Carnival!
This post was written for inclusion in the Family Size Blog Carnival hosted by Kerry at City Kids Homeschooling and Patti at Jazzy Mama. Today our participants share their decisions on family size and whether or not to grow their families. Please read to the end to find a list of links to the other carnival participants.
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Ever since I can remember, I have dreamt of having a large family, with four or more children. I love family, love spending time with my own family, and want to create a family for my children filled with siblings.

What does family mean to you?
According the online Oxford English Dictionary, family means a group consisting of two parents and their children living together as a unit... (unrelated to my post, but does anyone else find this strange? Two parents, why not one? Or three? Anyhoo, lets move on...)
To me, family means companionship,support, advice and encouragement. My sisters are my best friends and we share everything and ask each other for advice constantly. I cannot imagine life without my immediate and extended family.

~ My Crazy Family ~

With this dream of a large family has also come the realisation that I cannot justify bringing many more little souls into this world, where populations are booming and the earth cannot sustain many more lives, and thus I discuss the only other option there is, adoption.

I have been grappling with the choice of adoption versus having more of my own for a while now. It seems almost incredibly selfish of me, to think of adoption, whilst I am still fertile. I have many friends that are battling to conceive and for who adoption is not a chioce, for many reasons. But, the reason I am pro-adoption remains, there are so many children out there who are desperately in need of safe homes and loving families, and I would love to give one (or two, or three) of them what they deserve.

Via Flickr

In fact, I do not know why more families do not consider adoption. It is estimated that there are between 143 million and 210 million orphans worldwide (recent UNICEF report). Every day 5760 more children become orphans. 

I am currently still hankering on the decision of expanding our family by adoption, and these are some of the decisions I have had to, and am currently still making: 
  • Adoption is possible for single parents, and is a good option if you are unlikely / unwilling to find a mate. However, if you are married, your spouse has to be completely on board with your idea, of course. This is something I am still working on. 
  • I would be willing to consider open adoption, which is where the birth parents and the adoptive parents agree to stay in touch after adoption. This would obviously only be an option if your relationship with the birth parents in one of mutual respect and understanding. I'm sure it could get very complicated if boundaries are crossed. 
  • AIDS orphans are many in South Africa, and another consideration is whether I would be willing to adopt a child with special needs, and / or AIDS. This adds extra pressure as you would require the finances to deal with a sick (sickly) child, and the emotional strength, which I am not sure I have. 
  • I would try to adopt as young a baby as possible, preferably taking over care of the baby at its birth. This way, I could make sure my new baby received the best natural parenting care from the start. 
  • I would also try to breastfeed my adopted child, either by going on medication to do so, or by keeping my milk supply up from nursing Jesse until then. 
  • Adoption in South Africa means you need to be willing to adopt children from different races. It is almost impossible to adopt white children in South Africa, and waiting lists are extremely long, you could wait forever. However, if you are willing to adopt a black child, as I am, it becomes much easier. Having a multi-cultural family is challenging I'm sure, but I invite that challenge and look forward to it. I only hope that my family, and extended family are as enthusiastic about welcoming another child (of a different race) as they did Jesse. 
Via Flickr
A few facts and figures on adoption in South Africa and Africa:
  • 2102400 more children become orphans every year in Africa alone. 
  • Every 15 seconds, another child in Africa becomes an AIDS orphan
  • Each year 14505000 children grow up as orphans and age out of the system by age sixteen, having never been placed with loving parents. Studies show that 10% - 15% of these children commit suicide before the reach age eighteen. These studies also show that 60% of the girls become prostitutes and 70% of the boys become hardened criminals. 
  • In South Africa, abortion laws changed a few years back, and this resulted in an 80% reduction in babies available for adoption. Especially white babies. Minors in South Africa do not require parental consent in order to have an abortion. In South Africa, there are many black babies desperately in need of homes. 
  • There are approximately 1.8 million children in South Africa needing to be adopted today
  • 3 babies are abandoned every 48 hours in the province of KwaZulu Natal alone, in South Africa.
  • In 2001, 874 babies were abandoned - that figure trebled in 2002 when 2186 babies were abandoned in KZN.
  • Most babies are abandoned in municipal toilets, latrines and refuse bags. This is mainly due to AIDS, poverty and unemployment. 
  • 34% of the KZN population is infected with AIDS. KZN has the most welfare agencies in the country and yet cannot cope. 

Would you be willing to open your home and your heart to a child not of your blood? 

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Visit City Kids Homeschooling and Jazzy Mama to find out how you can participate in the next Family Size Blog Carnival!
Please take some time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants below:
  • The Perfect Family The family at Living Peacefully With Children isn't perfect, but the size is just right for them...at least for now.
  • Family Size Carnival Zoie at TouchstoneZ discusses how she loves the extremes of being happily child-free for life to being a mom of several. And on knowing when her family is just the right size.
  • Is Adoption for Me? Christine at African Babies Don't Cry shares why she would consider adoption as the socially responsible way to have a large family.
  • Getting Used to Having Kids Lauren at Hobo Mama went from "probably one, maybe two" to wanting a handful, but not without some major struggles and soul searching along the way.
  • Magic Number For a while, Phoebe at Little Tinker Tales has wondered what the magic number will be for their family, but now thinks she's finally settled on an answer.
  • How Did You Get That Size Jorje explains how she "chose" her family size and why they aren't planning to grow again on Momma Jorje.com.
  • Family Size On A Per Kid Basis Sarah at Parenting God's Children shares how plans change as families grow.
  • More Babies: How, When, Why Joella at Fine and Fair writes to her daughter about when, how, and why she might get a sibling.
  • Family Size Kelly at Becoming Crunchy shares how she has no idea what size her family will end up being; though she used to be sure, a few factors have recently come up to change everything.
  • Thy Will Be Done CatholicMommy hasn't decided how many children she'll have. And she never will. Because, you know, she's Catholic.
  • Sanity and Health Kat at Loving {Almost} Every Moment talks about sanity and health considerations when deciding on her family's size.
  • Love Comes In All Sizes Melissa at White Noise and Mothers of Change shares her family's journey to becoming a family of six!
  • Family Size Liz at Homeschooling in Buffalo discusses how this carnival occurs less than two weeks after "closing up shop" by way of vasectomy.
  • Family Size Blog Carnival Billy, a single mother by choice, writes about the size of her family at My Pathway to Motherhood.
  • Creating Your Perfect Family Size Dr. Alan Singer shares insights from his new book, Creating Your Perfect Family Size.
  • Our Family Size You might not be surprised to learn that Patti at Jazzy Mama can't find any reasons NOT to have more babies.
  • Economics of Family Size Kerry at City Kids Homeschooling uses an economic cost-benefit analysis to determine her family's optimal size.
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32 comments:

  1. Christine, this is such a wonderful post! I am so delighted that you participated in today's blog carnival, and shared the facts and figures--and rewards--of growing one's family through adoption. This is something we think about as well and it was great to hear your perspectives.

    Thanks for sharing!
    Kerry @ City Kids Homeschooling
    http://cityhomeschooling.blogspot.com/

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    1. Thanks so much for hosting this carnival Kerry, I have so enjoyed this topic! :)

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  2. I don't think adoption is something my partner would consider, and you're right in saying that you'd both have to be 100% for the idea... but we've decided to stick with our two children now anyway.
    Really interesting post. It's terrible that there are so many children in our world without such basic needs being met. I'm so sheltered here in suburbia... and don't always recognise how good I have it.

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    1. I know, the facts and figures are shocking, makes my heart break to think how many children are out there with no-one who loves them :(

      But yes, you both have to be 100% on board with the idea before you can even think of adoption.

      Thanks for visiting again Phoebe :)

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  3. Wow, Christine - this is seriously giving me some things to think about. You've really made some good points about the need for adoption, but also that struggle that, for the time being, you're still fertile. I've had the same thoughts in the past! Thanks for resurfacing them - in a good, thoughtful way :)

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    1. Yeah, if I could only have one more child and had to chose between having my own or adopting it would be such a difficult choice. Must be an ego thing to want our own blood children? Mini versions of us? Not sure... but, thankfully, I do not need to decide that now, I can adopt and birth my own children in the future :)

      Thanks for visiting Sarah!

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  4. I love this post! We have a mixture of adopted and bio kids, and have an interracial family. It is wonderful and challenging, both. Extended family who aren't initially excited tend to get on board bigtime once they actually meet your adopted child; in theory some members have reservations but when faced with a real child with beautiful eyes and a great, big, wide open need for love, the reservations disappear.
    I, too, don't understand why more of us don't step up to the adoption plate... Fear? A lack of awareness? I'm not sure. But I sure wish our generation would rise up and be the ones who turn life around for orphaned or abandoned children in the world. Good on you, babe. Awesome post.

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    1. Hi Melissa

      Although I have always wanted to adopt, your story is what really inspired me to look into it with determination :) Matthew is a gorgeous child, and I am so glad he found a loving family.

      Im sure you are right about the extended family, who can resist or reject a child? And, if they do then its no loss to me really.

      To be totally honest, I think the real reason more people dont adopt is because it is such a mission, people dont have the time or energy to commit to it... so much easier to get pregnant and have your own. (well, for most)

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    2. True that! =) I wasn't sure if you would remember who I was just by my name, but yes you do!! I'm glad we inspired you. =) You may be right about the mission part, but I think sometimes it gets over thought and over wrought, ykwim? It's just a kid. Nothing an adopted child brings to the table is unlivable.
      It can be hard, and I've heard some pretty shocking stories, but so can biological kids be hard, and generate shocking stories. The vast majority of adoptions just turn out normal. =)

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    3. Lol, of course I know who you are ;)

      Yip, I know what you mean, thats exactly the thing, you cant over think it. There will always be a reason not to adopt. Just do it, if you are passionate about it as I am, and live through it, the child will be worth it... always :)

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  5. In the province of Ontario (Canada) where I live, the government is in the process of making local adoption easier, especially for children who would otherwise remain in the Foster Care system until they turn 18. There are many people who are ready to adopt but who don't, only because the bureaucratic red tape is so enormous and because there has never be extensive support for the adoptive parents of special needs children. I think it's great that more children in my province are going to get families because of these changes.

    Thankyou for a VERY thought-provoking post.

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    1. Im so glad your government is working to make local adoption easier. Unfortunately, it seems to only get worse here, as the numbers of AIDS orphans are on the increase, and the welfare system gets more and more slumped.

      Thanks for hosting this carnival Patti, I so enjoyed the topic!

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  6. It really is sad that there are children out there who have no one, and I think it is great that you want to adopt one or more of these kids. But I do not think adoption is for everyone. And I don't think it's a magic solution to Africa's problems. As for your question - no.. I mean if I had had my birth family complete and I was still young enough and all, then yes, adopting a less fortunate child (I think more fostering a local child) might well have been an option. Anyway, good luck with the adoption.

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    1. Hi Billy

      I agree, adoption is not for everyone. And, no, Africa has many problems, and adoption is not a cure all... *but* it will help a few needy children by giving them loving homes, and really, isnt that where it starts? With the children? Dont get me wrong, I am not pushing the adoption of African children, the facts and figures of mainly Africa are in my post because thats where I live.

      I love the idea of fostering an older local child, and in fact, my mom is looking into it at the moment, so I dont think you are ever too old :)

      Thanks for visiting! :)

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    2. I tend to think of adoption in similar terms as you express, Christine. It is not the solution to the world's problems, or any continent's difficulties in raising or caring for its youngest members. But here and now, it connects parents with children. There is loss involved. The first best situation in life is to remain nestled in your birth family surrounded by love and with your basic needs met. Because the world is the way it is, this is not possible for many children. The #1 best situation is not possible. So, as a plan B, adoption can be a wonderful solution for many kids. Better than orphanages. Better than living on the streets. Better than unresolved emotional pain. Better than death.
      I get very up in arms in response to rhetoric surrounding loss of culture for adopted kids. Yes, they lose their culture when adopted around the world. No matter how much you try and preserve it for them, culture is fluid and every day and cannot be translated fully into another context. It is loss and they will grieve it. But family is more important than culture. Period. It starts with the kids. Recognizing the most fundamental needs and filling them as best we can with the #2 best situation is actually good. Maintaining as much culture, heritage, and contact with their culture and family of origin is ALSO positive, but secondary.

      I obviously have lots of thoughts on this topic... I'm monopolizing your comments section =p

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    3. Agreed, what is culture in contrast to having basic needs met, a loving warm home and a full belly? No contest.

      Obviously I will try my best to raise my adopted black child/ren as close to his heritage as possible, but he wont be a little Zulu child anymore, he will however be loved and happy :)

      No worries on the monopolizing the comments ;) Im enjoying your point of view!

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  7. I, too, have always wanted a big family, and my husband and I have discussed adoption in theory. Although, since my son was born, I have loved pregnancy, birth, and breastfeeding so much, it gives me something else to think about. But I think those minor sacrifices would be worth it to parent a child in need of a loving home.
    Some of the numbers you give are shocking! Glad I came across this post in the carnival :)

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    1. I can totally relate to loving the whole pregnancy birth experience, and as I replied to Sarah above, if I had to decide between ever being pregnant again and having my own child or adopting one, it would be a difficult decision... but, I hope to have both! :)

      Thanks for visiting :)

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  8. Thank you for your thoughtfulness. I would love to adopt, my husband is not on board yet. His mother is a pediatric psychologist, and she has worked with a lot of adopted kids who have a lot of issues. She worries about it, so my husband worries about it. You've really laid out the points to think about, and there are pros and cons to all of them. Right now I don't think we would be able to pay for the adoption so it's not something we could even do right now, but I like to keep the option open.

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    1. Hi Leigh

      I can relate with your husbands and mother-in-laws worries that the children you adopt may be 'damaged' and have issues. Older children I am sure will need a bit more patience and perhaps even therapy as they adjust to a loving home, but I think if you adopt a tiny baby, and bring them up lovingly then they become your child and any issues they have become your issues, as with biological children.

      I like what Melissa said below, that biological children can have issues too.

      Also, in South Africa, you cannot be turned down for wanting to adopt if you cannot afford it, the state needs to subsidise your adoption... although, Im sure it would still cost one quite a bit in little extras.

      I wish you well, whether your husband changes his mind or not :)

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  9. So sad to see all those statistics...

    I think we would be on board with adopting, but it's always something we think of as a few years down the road. Though I don't know if I could do it (there are so many objections that pop up) I do feel a pull towards adopting an older child; I think in many ways it's more difficult for them to find homes.

    It's certainly something worthwhile to look into - very much appreciate all the information Christine!

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    1. You are so right, it is definitely more difficult for older children to find homes... they dont have the big eyed cute factor, and I commend you for considering it! As I mentioned in my reply to Billy above, my mom is looking into fostering with the possibility of adopting older children. She reckons she is too old for nappies and sleepless night, but would love to help out children in need all the same. I too, may look at it when I am older and my children are older.

      Thanks so much for visiting Kelly!

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  10. Lots to think about! My husband and I started the foster care route, then I became pregnant, so we've backed off of that for now. Our biggest concern would be the impact of the special needs of adopted kids making us less able to parent all (adopted & bio) our kids well. Definitely an ongoing discussion, here, though.

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    1. Thanks for visiting!

      I agree with Melissa's reply below... that my biological childrens lives would be richer for having an adopted brother or sister, and my life would be richer too. I dont think anything would ever make me regret adopting a child, no matter how many 'issues' they have etc.

      That how I know its the right decision for me :)

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  11. Thanks so much for sparking this discussion. I've been wanting to adopt for years now, and yet my partner's not on board with the idea. I'm interested in adopting out the U.S. foster care system, which would mean any number of challenges: older kids, sibling groups, children coming out of environments of neglect and other abuse, kids with special needs (medical, physical, emotional, psychological), and kids of a different race to us. And I acknowledge with him that taking on any one of those challenges could stretch our family to the breaking point — or it could be wonderful. I really have a heart especially for older kids who have been waiting so long for a forever family, but I also understand how it's even harder to integrate older kids into an established family.

    I could go on and on about why I think people don't consider adoption, but you don't want to get me on that soap box, lol. I'll just say that I agree with you that it's an important issue and one I wish both our cultures would take more seriously. I wish, too, that there were more support for families in general so that the idea of adopting (particularly a child with special needs of any kind) wouldn't seem so daunting. It's hard to do any parenting alone, let alone parenting that brings with it a huge set of challenges.

    I also have the fear that my extended family wouldn't accept a grandchild/relative of another race, but I sincerely hope that's not true. I like what Melissa said about when they actually meet the child, a lot of those reservations would disappear. But I recognize, too, that it's a big responsibility for me as the adoptive parent to continue supporting my child's cultural heritage, whatever that might be.

    Ok, I'll stop talking now, but thanks for the great post! I had no idea what the orphan situation was like in South Africa, so it was very eye-opening.

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    1. Thanks so much for your thoughts on this Lauren! I agree with you that it can be challenging, and that people do have reasons for not looking at adoption, and some of these reasons are perhaps valid... whether the parents wont have enough time to spend with each child, or whether they fear that they are not emotionally strong enough to deal with an adopted childs problems, or even if it isnt financially viable... I remind myself, that no matter what, the child is in a better place and will at least have a family to call their own.

      Especially here in South Africa, where the welfare system is so shockingly inept and there are whole households of children left orphaned by AIDS. Some where the head of the household is a 12 year old boy who is too young to qualify for a grant and so has to beg (or steal) to provide food for his 6 younger siblings because they have been lost in the system, or there just isnt anywhere for them to go....

      Anyway, all the more reason for ME to adopt :)

      Really, really sad, if I could open my home and my heart to all these children I would... but, alas I cant and so adopting 2 or 3 children will atleast make a positive impact on their and my life.

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  12. Great discussion has popped up surrounding your post, I see!! Great points, everyone, and Billy is right that adoption is not for everyone. Neither is parenting, really! Or a great many other things in life. But I think adoption can really be for more families than are currently adopting. There was a TV ad campaign in the 90s in our province (BC, Canada) encouraging adoption of children in the care of the ministry, and adoptions increased in numbers during that campaign. So cool! I think many people simply need a nudge, or a reminder that it is possible, to spur them on. Especially if the need is right in their geographical area.
    As for the fear surrounding the possibility of an adopted child upsetting the balance of a family or bringing their 'issues' aboard, it is hard from my vantage point to hear these kinds of (completely legitimate) fears. Which I actually share myself. I fear one day my adopted child and all his issues may get involved in a destructive lifestyle and influence his siblings to follow him, in some way. But all I can say is that (1) biological children can have issues and upset the balance of a family, too, and (2) a child is worth the leap of faith it takes to parent them. Loving my son is worth the pain and difficulty of dealing with his issues, and for him, it will make all the difference for his potential in life, to affect the world positively and go forward to be a healthy spouse, father, employee, friend, and whatever else the world has in store for him. So many adopted children who grow up are healthy as adults. So many adopted children have such a positive experience having been adopted, that a great number of them grow up to adopt children themselves.

    Adopting is a bit like an arranged marriage. You don't choose each other per se, and as such the fit is sometimes uncomfortable. But love grows deep and it changes the world. It really does.

    I'm passionate about this topic, obviously! And I hear LOTS of people tell me all about why they don't adopt. The reasons are all legitimate and good! But I get tired of hearing them. Children with no families, people!!! Yes, it upsets the balance of your home and your family but damn life is short and although adopting my son was the hardest thing I've ever done and nearly destroyed me emotionally and severely upset the balance of our family, it is the best thing I have ever done. We rebalanced. I found myself again, I grew, and I healed. And my son is SO WORTH IT. His siblings are better people because they know him. And so am I.

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    1. Melissa, I'm so glad you came back to share more, as the voice of experience for us. I can feel your convictions shaking me up, for sure. I'm going to have to share your passion with my husband to see if I can get him on board! :)

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    2. I admire how passionate you are about this topic Melissa, thanks for bringing your experience to this post. I, obviously, have no experience, just a dream :)

      I think the story of the adoption of your son is a beautiful one, and can fully understand how your life and that of his siblings is richer for it... as well as his, obviously :)

      I look forward to chatting to you more in the future about this as I move forward (ever slowly in the SA system) with the adoption process!

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    3. I guess I'm slightly passionate about this topic =)

      I think partly media representation of adoption is stirring up fear in peoples' hearts (to blame the cliche of media, lol). I'm sensitive to representations of birth and adoptive parents and adopted children in tv shows, movies, etc, and I have noticed a trend towards misrepresenting adopted kids as growing up pathologically unhealthy emotionally. Damaged, as it were.

      One of my counselors once asked me if I think complete healing is possible, from an adverse event such as rape or shellshock after war (PTSD). I said yes. He said he believed it was possible to heal completely from these things, too. How much more can a child heal, given a loving responsive home?

      There are irreversables that happen to a child. Fetal alcohol exposure, fetal narcotics exposure, etc. And there are windows for certain emotional stages. If a baby is not held or taught to attach in the first year of life, it is likely to develop difficulties attaching when adopted. But these are rare and isolated adoptive situations. The vast majority of us will not be adopting these types of children, but rather normal children with very adverse circumstances who are capable of full healing.

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    4. The media does portray the dramatic side of adoption, thats why its called 'entertainment' right? And I think you are right that it puts people off of adoption, sadly.

      There is a remedy for it though, go visit or volunteer at a childrens home and you will see how beautiful and happy these children are even though they have so little. Their only dream is to have someone to love them, and believe in them, as you can imagine.

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    5. Yes! Exactly. I share your sentiments above, that if I could take ALL the scads of children in, I would, but I can't. I admire your goal of 2 or 3. Any number is beautiful, though, and a testiment to the level of GOOD that people are capable of. The ripple effect of adopting one child goes forth into future generations and who knows how incredibly far that good can go? So wonderful. And I think you're awesome for seeing the need in your country and opening your arms to it. So cool. =)

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