Blog Post by Rachel Dueker
November is National Adoption Month. I wish I had a clever way to begin this post, to grab folk’s attention but in mourning my dad, I realized so much about the importance of this month. Our son is, as readers know, the best and most important thing we ever did. While we did not create him biologically, the 3 of us created our family. For readers we do not tell people Mike is our adopted child but our child. However we are not shy of letting folks know he is ours through adoption. The reason for that is that I have no different feeling about my child just because I did not birth him. He has been my heart, my life and my joy from the first time I met him. Instantly I knew he was meant to be my child on a level beyond explanation, something deep in my heart and soul just opened like all these years, he is who I was waiting for. Born somewhere else but meant to cross paths with us. If you have a baby you do not introduce your child as “your birth child” it is your child, as Mike is ours.
However, the adoption conversation is incredibly important. While we debate homelessness, ISIS, corporate greed we, in the U.S. have lost almost all empathy, common decency, true kindness and open mindedness. Greed, ignorance and fear drive our debates, our policies and our politics. In my mind, nowhere matches or illustrates how far we have fallen but the treatment of the children “that are not ours”. Foster care in this country is constantly growing. Every day, there is an article about a child, killed, maimed or even given an STD while in care. All one needs to do is watch these pseudo news programs like Lock Up, etc. Each has at least one person telling how they lived in care until they aged out. This happens every day and while not all aged out children go to jail, many do at a higher rate. The chance of substance abuse goes up. The rate of homelessness or underemployment goes up. Abortion clinics are protested regularly, but there are never crusaders outside DHS offices or the state legislature when children’s rights bills are on the block. Our collective apathy around foster care is shameful and the belief that the state can do enough for these children is a ghastly misconception. Our failure to take care of children in this country is our continuing undoing. Children in foster care need permanency! Whether that is money and services to reunite the family or expedition of adoption, we must find ways to link adoptive parents to their children without miles of redtape.
This does not mean I think all people should go out and adopt or foster. If you are going to adopt, do so because you are selfish: you want a child. You want to be a parent, you want to be barfed on or yelled at or have your kid talk in one word sentences for a week. You want the late nights because they have croup or have taken your car in the rain. You know the good and bad and want it all. If you are adopting to “save” a child that is the wrong reason. Why? A child knows when you are doing something out of “duty”. If they are your project or your good deed, they cannot be just your child and you will do additional damage to that child. We did not adopt our son to save him, we adopted him to love him and to be proud to be his parents. We love our son, support him and try to impart boundaries for him to make his choices.
But to be clear, Mike saved himself. He has blossomed and become this amazing, empathetic, open minded young man. We have the pride and pleasure of being part of his transformation, we gave him love and guidance, but he did the work. He choose all the light and intellect in his heart and he makes his path based in knowing he has a wide array of family, some new some formerly estranged, that accept him. This is the power of adoption from a true heart; to love a child not save a child. You open up their heart path and you let them find their genuine self, no matter how tough the path and you love them uncondionally.
3 1/2years ago right before Thanksgiving, we showed my dad a picture of Mike, then 15, and told him that we had put in our file to be his potential parents. My dad lit up, he never questioned that he was 15 or had been in care for years. He never asked the dumb questions of did Mike do something that kept him in care. He just said yes and told me he hoped I would give him Mike as his grandson. That is the power of love.
Even though I lost my beloved father without him having met Mike first, as we live on opposite coasts, I know he will be watching over my precious son every step of the way.
For more info on Foster Care, Adoption, what our project KINDRED is about and how to get involved please visit kindredmovie.wix.com/kindred.