“Adoption may be defined as the process of providing parents for children and children for families when birth parents are unwilling or unable to care for their offspring.” Adoption has been practiced throughout history. In the past years adoption seemed to be a working solution to problem situations. In the late nineteenth century the United States legislature began to grant legal status to adoptive parents. By 1970 some 175,000 children were adopted in the United States. In recent years adoption has become a distinct benefit for thousands of children in need of parents (Bender 12).
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Bender states that there are more than a half-million children eligible for adoption in the United States. Americans adopt more than 100,00 children every year (13). For many children and adults the word adoption represents hope and joy. Approximately 440,000 grandparents, siblings, and other family members are affected by these adoption connections. Connections are really what the adoption process involves; in many cases, these bonds are joyful and life long (McKelvey XV). Olasky believes that adoption works well for the majority of adoptive children, for birth mothers, and for those who adopt children with special needs (24).
Adoption is a three-faced entity. The circumstances in any adoption affects three groups—the children, the adoptive parents, and the birth parents. All three groups have much to gain through the adoption process. Adoption is a sensitive subject that touches the hearts and souls of all three groups. It enriches the lives of all who are involved (Moe 42-43).
Adoption enables the lives of many children to be transformed. “Adoption offers children who are orphaned, abandoned, neglected, abused, or unwanted a chance to live in a stable, loving environment.” The adoptive parent-child union is commonly looked at as sanctified because the adoptive parents provide a needy infant with love, a home, and nurture. Studies indicate that adoption works well for the large majority of adoptive children. The adoptive children have parents to raise and love them as they grow up (Bender 261-262).
Adopted children have the potential to become blessed, healthy, and productive members of loving families. Being a member of a caring family can help them to become “responsible and compassionate adults capable of making positive contributions to their world while raising happy and healthy children of their own” (McKelvey x). Thousands of children throughout the world have been legally abandoned by their parents. “Adoption is right for some people.” Bill Berle, adopted son of Milton Berle, states that he had a good adoptive family. Without adoption, Bill Berle’s life might have been a lot worse and not as happy (Pro-Adoption Viewpoints 2-4).
A major concern and debate about adopted teenagers involves whether they will have problems growing up healthy and successful because of factors related to their adoption. Studies reveal that, on the average, adopted teens seem to be doing well. Half of adopted youth indicate they are as happy as their peers, and thirty-eight percent say they are happier. Adopted teenagers benefit from the vast support of family, friends, and other people involved in their lives. Being a part of a loving home enables the adopted children to be involved in positive, structured youth activities. Studies have indicated that adoption has helped many children to become stronger in their personal identity and self-esteem. They exhibit higher levels of caring and behavior that they, otherwise, might not have had (Bender 246-250).
McKelvey states that in America more than one million potential parents have a singular goal—to adopt a child. Adoption gives adoptive parents the wonderful chance to love and raise a child. Many aging baby boomers have found that their biological clock has run out. Other people who adopt may have infertility problems, and their dream of children may seem impossible. All of these people must turn to someone else to fulfill their dreams; adoption is their only hope of having a family (ix-x).
Infertile parents can acquire the parenting opportunity that they long for and can also gain a new understanding of their lost fertility (Bender 56-57). Studies indicate that some adoptive parents have biological children, but they feel that they have room for one more. Many adoptive parents adopt older children because of their concern for others. They want more children but do not want to add to the overpopulation of the world. Therefore, they become adoptive parents (Moe 2-4).
Bender contends that adoption provides the birth parents with the opportunity to gain control of their lives. By giving a child up for adoption, birth parents may feel like their child has a better future. Adoption enables them to give their child a nurturing home that they may not have been able to offer. Birth mothers will have a grieving time for the child who is adopted. Most of these mothers are glad that they have given the child a chance for a better life. Some birth mothers say, “I knew that something can hurt a lot and still be the right thing to do” (24-25, 56).
McKelvey states, “Hundreds of thousands of children spend their lives in limbo.” Society needs to continue the efforts to adopt children. Adoption enriches the lives of children, birth parents, and adoptive parents. “It is with knowledge and conviction that adoptive relationships can grow and mature. It is also important to remember the old adage: To change the world, start by changing just one child” (177-181).
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