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National adoption month

Posted: November 16, 2017 3:41 p.m.
Updated: November 17, 2017 1:00 a.m.

November is National Adoption Month and Thursday was National Adoption Day. Both celebrate the loving option of adoption, spreading awareness of thousands of children in foster care or other situations who are waiting to be adopted.

Long-time readers know that my ex-wife and I adopted our two sons. In their cases, we did so at birth, taking them home within days or weeks of their being born.

Our first son, Joshua, was born in 2000 in Bowling Green, Ky. We actually got to meet his birth mother and my ex even stayed with her for a while before Joshua was born and got to carry him to the neo-natal unit.

Since we lived here in South Carolina, we had to abide by the rules of an interstate compact with the state of Kentucky, which required that Joshua be placed with a foster family until all the legal niceties would allow her to bring him home.

Luckily, the foster family offered for my ex-wife to stay with them, so she can honestly say she has raised Joshua from birth.

We decided on adoption after trying to have children of our own and when we made that choice, got in touch with a “link” organization in the Upstate that helped us get in touch with potential birth mothers, including Joshua’s in Kentucky.

He has met her and played with his half-brothers and sister on occasion (they moved to and lived in South Carolina for a while), but it has been years now.

Ten and a half months after Joshua’s birth, that agency got back in touch and asked us if we wanted to adopt another baby. We were actually with family when my ex took that call. She looked at me, told me what was going on and we just said, “Sure, why not?” After all, we wanted Joshua to have a brother or sister, and wanted them to be fairly close in age so they could grow up together.

Admittedly, we hadn’t thought about them being that close in age, but again ... “Sure, why not?”

This time, we didn’t have to travel far. Caleb was born just down the road in Richland County. We never met his birth parents, although we do know he has some siblings.

With him being born so close by, we got to take him home at the tender age of 2 days old.

Approximately six months after each of their births, their respective adoptions were finalized in Kershaw County Family Court.

While there have been -- and continue to be -- times when the boys made us question our sanity, we’re glad we made the choices we did. We love them as if they were our own because they are our own. Adoption is a legal word; son is what each of them is.

We went the baby route in both cases, but recognize there are hundreds of thousands of (and even contemplated adopting) foster children, including pre-teens and teenagers, who deserve a forever family, too.

I am in awe of the people in our community who are foster parents and applaud anyone who adopts foster children and/or older children.

In fact, 2017 National Adoption Month’s theme is “Teens Need Families, No Matter What.” The National Adoption Month Initiative is funded by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Children’s Bureau through a partnership with AdoptUSKids and the Child Welfare Information Gateway. This year, the campaign “...highlights the importance of identifying well-prepared and committed families for the thousands of teenagers in foster care,” according to the National Adoption Month website. Many teenagers are less likely to be adopted because of their age and will, therefore, age out of the foster care system without stable support.

This is actually the third year National Adoption Month is focusing on teens. This year, the Children’s Bureau has put together resources to help child welfare agencies build “an effective response system,” designed to ensure a “strong pool of adoptive families who are equipped and prepared to parent teenagers.”

As a father of two adopted boys who are now teenagers, I can only attest to the challenges of raising teens who have been with me all their lives. I can only imagine what it would be like to add a teenager to my household when there wasn’t one before. It takes a special person.

If you think you can raise, support and, most of all, love a teen through adoption, check out AdoptUSKids.org. It is specifically geared to parents thinking about adopting children from within the foster care system and includes a FAQ (frequently asked questions) on adopting teens.

Some people have adopted children from other countries, and I applaud them, too. We did not because we recognized there are so many American children waiting to be adopted.

So, whether it is babies or teens, I hope you’ll join me in the ranks of adoptive parenthood. You might suffer some tear-your-hair-out moments, but, trust me, it’s worth it.

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