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Since that initial conversation with Erica, I've been pleased to discover others who share our vision, including adoptees Laura Dennis and 7rin, the latter of whom recently introduced me to the following touching story, submitted by someone named "Bobbi" at values.com:
My husband and I, grateful for our own circumstances, met a young woman and her baby son 16 years ago. They had a rented room, but not much support in their lives. We were childless. We moved to a bigger house and became a family. The woman was able to get off of public assistance, get some experience and get a job (...and now is a very experienced bookkeeper and office manager). Our young boy, now 16, was able to go to school and get a solid foundation that now supports him in high school. We got the best gift...the joy of a little boy running to us when we got home from work, a Christmas morning with a child, the hope for the future in his eyes. After five years of living together, the woman and the little boy got their own place and continued their growth and development. They have allowed us to remain in their lives. Kind of godparents, kind of grandparents. Four lives changed forever from a chance meeting and a willingness to be open to give. We made a choice - they made a choice - and everyone (including the resources of the government) benefited. Although we gave them a place to live, some financial assistance and some needed support, we GOT way more than we GAVE.Now that's what I'm talking about!
But this is one situation. Adoption, on the other hand, is a SYSTEM ... a well-oiled (and well-funded) machine.
I don't claim to have all the answers, but I do have a lot of questions. If we truly understood and valued biological family, if we were to really listen to the many adoptees and original parents who are speaking out today about the pain and disorientation of their separation from one another, if we (as a society) were as focused on the "best interest of the child" as we claim to be, what structural systems might we create to support vulnerable families?
Brainstorm with me, people! What would real support of parents who want to parent look like?
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Am I saying that adoption should never take place? No. I understand that there are adoption critics who do go that far -- who believe that guardianship should replace adoption in cases where the biological parents are truly unable or unwilling to care for their children -- but through I respect that point of view, it doesn't happen to be mine. I am not prescribing a one-size-fits-all template. I am simply inviting us all to think outside of the adoption box. What might the alternatives might look like?
What say you? What's your vision?