We got a call from my mother-in-law last night, who is on vacation in Florida. (Hi Mom! 🙂 *waves*) She faithfully logs on every day to read my blog from the library on the resort, looking for the latest updates, on the occupancy of my uterus, and how we are doing in general. And so, I will tell her right up front, so she may get on with her relaxing and golf games… we’re fine, I am drinking all my water (almost), and we’re still waiting. And so, go relax already! You’re on vacation!
This week in the UK, it is National Adoption Week. It is a week where the country is educated about adoption, and people are encouraged to look into the possibility of adopting some of the many children who need families. What a wonderful idea this is! Why don’t other countries do this? (Or, perhaps they do, and I just don’t know about it. That is always a possibility.)
I have always been interested in adoption. I knew, from an early age, that I wanted to adopt. When I was younger, two news stories grabbed me and forever made adoption a hot button issue for me. First was Live Aid and Bob Geldof’s work in the African famine of the mid-80s. I became aware of the terrible imbalance of wealth in the world because of Bob Geldof and Midge Ure. So many starving people, so many orphans in such terrible conditions. How could so many people be in such dire need, while I watched on television? I suddenly became aware that there were children suffering so terribly, and being orphaned by starvation and disease. And seeing those faces of children in such need, I decided as a teenager that one day, I would adopt. I just knew.
The second news story that made adoption real for me was a story, I think possibly from Time or another major news magazine, about babies in the U.S. with AIDS being abandoned in hospitals. (This was in the early days of AIDS, when Reagan refused to do anything about it, and people were still terrified of this scary unknown “gay disease”.) Infants, diagnosed with AIDS, were just being abandoned in maternity wards. And they were being left in corners in their cribs to die. People were so afraid of AIDS at the time, nobody, not even health professionals, would touch these children. It was barbaric, like back in the day when children with disabilities were left in the corner with a “Do Not Feed” sign on their cribs to slowly starve and die. And then, as word spread, a group of inner-city grandmothers, predominantly black women, said “Screw THIS” and started going into hospitals and cuddling these children. They were not afraid. They held them, and fed them, and sang to them. They LOVED these children. And these children began to thrive. And as I sat, reading this news story and bawling my eyes out, I vowed to do SOMETHING. I was in my early twenties, just out of university at the time, in my first job, but I began scrambling for addresses where I could send money, checking to see if I had the income to afford to adopt one of these infants. (I did not.) But it reaffirmed that I needed to adopt, one day, because there were children in my own backyard who needed a home and love.
And so, years on, I find myself in a position where adoption is a real possibility. In fact, it may be the only way that my husband and I ever have children. The world has not changed — there are still many, many children in need of families, homes, love, internationally and domestically. So it warms my heart to see that the UK has a National Adoption Week. The UK is a notoriously difficult place in which to adopt, but slowly and surely, they are working to make this a very real and very viable possibility for couples and families who wish to do so. And they are making people who never really considered it actually consider the possibilities — professional couples over 45 who had just reconciled themselves to lives without kids, single women and men, gay couples — all of them now are being educated and welcomed to pursue adoption for the many children in need in their country.
Wouldn’t it be wonderful if all countries with the resources had a National Adoption Week? It would demystify the process, make it less scary, and make it more “okay” and acceptable to adopt. It would do such good for yearning childless parents, for families that are not yet complete, for children who live each day without a family’s love. It would guide people through the paperwork and pitfalls along the way to adoption. But I think, most importantly, it would raise awareness of the appallingly high cost and, possibly, start enough activism and programs to lessen the financial burden and make adoption more of a real option for families who want to. Right now, I think cost and time are the two biggest issues against adoption for most couples. (Another question for another day is: why are governments not making it financially as easy as possible to adopt? But this is another bee in another bonnet entirely.)
So BRAVO to the UK for their National Adoption Week! Bravo from those of us who believe in adoption, who want to adopt. Bravo for helping making the dreams of people like myself a reality. And Bravo for supporting a cause that I have held dear in my heart for almost 25 years now, and will likely continue to hold dear for my entire life.