Once upon a time there was a child who went to sleep wondering if there is anything on the other side of love. Like a modern day Cinderella, she woke up on a filthy bed at the crack of dawn to complete chores that were beyond her age. Hoping to have a few morsels of breakfast to satisfy her grumbling tummy, she headed towards the dining table after completing her chores. She was greeted by the sight of more dirty dishes to clean and empty serving plates. An intense wave of hopelessness wrapped her as she realized today is not the day for her to satisfy her hunger. By now she was accustomed to a day filled with physical and emotional suffering. She didn’t have any prince coming to rescue her from her damaged world.
Unfortunately, such is the plight of most children who are orphans or have been separated from their families. Some of them are under the care of the state and some are in mismatched foster homes. Cyc-net.org refers to them as “Nobody’s Children”.
In Canada alone, there are more than 20,000 children waiting to be adopted. In the US, currently 40,000 children are in foster care and around 10,000 children are waiting to be adopted. What these children need today is a loving home to grow up in and the stability of knowing how their future looks. While some might blame the bureaucracy and the government, the truth is citizens should consider becoming a parent through adoption as actively as they try biologically. According to the Adoption Council of Canada, only about 1700 children are adopted every year.
The children in the adoption welfare system are either in foster care or under care of the state. These children are torn from their original families by neglect, drug- or alcohol-fueled violence, mental illness or sexual abuse. In many cases, they end up in foster care where they are mistreated and the abuse continues. They are forced to live in cramped conditions, starved and endure physical, mental, psychological and sexual abuse. Siblings are known to have been separated from each other. This happens because the home study and safety verification of the family is incomplete or ignored. Foster parent shortage and the growing number of children in the system waiting to be adopted is reaching a crisis point. By adopting, not only does a child get a happy home, but it is another way of curbing population and helping Mother Earth.
According to Jim Paul Nevins, Ontario Court judge, `The truth is that we, as a society – all of us – simply don’t consider children very important. We talk a good game but we don’t think kids are as important as other things, like fixing the roads.’ While there is awareness spreading and more families are open to considering adoption, the change can’t come fast enough.
There are many reasons why families do consider adopting a child. Some obvious reasons are infertility, same sex couples wanting to grow their family, relative/step-parent adoption or women facing danger in pregnancy. Lesser known reasons are couples not wanting to pass down genetic disorders, wanting to raise an older child instead of an infant, wanting to rescue a child from a disturbing environment or some people “feel called” to do it.
Adopting a child can be a very emotional journey for any prospective parent. It starts from the moment they contemplate adoption as a means of growing their family. Contrary to the common belief that the journey ends when the child is placed in the arms of his/her new parents, actually, it continues throughout the life of the child. It is very important that all decisions and questions are dealt with utmost sensitivity. Adoption is a life-long commitment to a child and it may or may-not be the right choice for everyone.
Depending on the preferences of the prospective adoptive parents, there are various kinds of adoption. They are:
PUBLIC ADOPTION: Here, a child is placed in foster care through the welfare system with a prospective family. If things go well, the couple may adopt the child legally.
PRIVATE ADOPTION: Here, a birth parent voluntarily places their child for adoption directly with the family of their choice. This takes place through a private agency.
INTERNATIONAL ADOPTION: Here, the adoptive parents adopt a child from a different country. This process involves eligibility requirements from the home country of the parents and the child.
KINSHIP ADOPTION: Here, the adoptive parents adopt a child from a close family or friend if the birth parents are unable to raise the child due to circumstantial factors.
In certain situations, adopting a child can be a lengthy and expensive process. But that is not always the case. Adopting through the public system doesn’t cost much while international adoptions can cost anywhere up to $40,000. The duration of the process could last anywhere from 6 months to 9 years depending on the type of adoption.
While there are changes that have to be made within the system for these children, there is a need for a shift in thinking in families wanting to grow – now more than ever. Every night there are thousands of children in Canada and around the world going to bed that is not their own with an empty stomach or wondering if they will be shipped off to another family in the morning. Bringing light into the lives of these children, providing them with the love, stability and the ‘forever family’ they dream off, is certainly a viable option for those who want to do it.
By Kritika Rao