I recently asked my Facebook friends to give me a challenge. They could pick any topic they wanted and I would write a short story about their topic. The only rule was they had to keep the topic clean. A friend of mine chose adoption as my second challenge.
Wow! Where to begin? I know a little something about this topic. I could probably write an entire book on this topic alone. As an attorney, I’ve experienced the pure joy of creating families through adoption. On a more personal note, I’ve experienced the joy, the anxiety, the fear, and the entire gambit of emotions involved in the adoption of a child. Those who know me know that kids hold a special place in my heart.
From a legal perspective (Part II details the personal journey to adoption) – People have this crazy idea that there is a supermarket of kids and when they “decide” to adopt they can just go shopping and pick one out, pay some fees, have the Judge bless it, and then they are done. I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but it’s jut not like that. It is true that there are literally thousands of children in state systems who are in desperate need of a home and awaiting adoption, but you don’t just show up one day and take the one with the saddest eyes home. This, too, like the immigration process, is very lengthy and can be very expensive. Another system that needs a lot of work.
Then there are those who I have come across in my professional career, those who don’t want to pay child support, or who are struggling raising a “difficult’ child, and they want to “relinquish their parental rights.” Again, sorry sweets, it doesn’t work like that either.
I once had a mother call me and tell me she couldn’t handle her teenager anymore and she was going to drop her off at the DHS shelter. My response to this individual was; “You go ahead and do that and then they will bring charges against you for child abandonment.” You created this little bundle of joy. You now have to support the child and care for him or her in good times and bad. That’s how this whole parenting thing works.
The Department of Human Services (DHS) in Oklahoma can move to terminate your rights. Please understand this is NOT a good thing. When DHS moves to terminate your rights it is because of some type of abuse or neglect and you failed to perform the plan for reunification, and it still will not relieve you fully of the obligation of support.
There are also step-parent adoptions. If you have a biological parent who agrees this process can be completed fairly easily. If, however, you have a biological parent who does not agree to the step-parent adopting the child, then be prepared to fight.
As a younger individual I categorized parents who put kids up for adoption as “bad” people. I couldn’t fathom how anyone could walk away from their child. After going through the process of adopting my daughter, I now understand that what I once categorized as a bad behavior can, in fact, be an act of love.
As a young attorney I looked into international adoptions. I wanted nothing more than to help these children find loving homes. There were many barriers. Foreign governments, bribes, unscrupulous adoption agencies…. You name it. I finally abandoned the idea. I couldn’t, in good conscience, be a part of a system that takes advantage of or monetizes a child.
Loving someone is a choice. And, frankly, kids are no different. You have to choose to love them, choose to be committed to them, choose to put their needs above your own, choose to be a parent…their parent.
If you have the ability and the opportunity to provide a way, a life, guidance, love to a child who is stuck in a system, lost, abandoned, hurting, then I can honestly say the journey is worth the stress, the anxiety, the money, the time, the effort. Choose to be a parent. Choose to be their parent. And from the bottom of my heart, from my lips to God’s hears, may I just say to you, the one who takes this journey; “Thank you.”