Angelina Jolie rests a beautiful African baby on her thin hips. In her hand she grasps the fingers of an adorable Asian little boy. The paparazzi snap a photo. And suddenly adoption is glamorous, sexy, popular, and the ‘cool’ thing to do because Angelina Jolie is glamorous, sexy, popular, and cool. Adoption rates sky rocket, especially from exotic countries, and adoption starts to make headlines. Soon other celebrities are snatching up their international babies and people joke about it being the next fad.
The only problem is adoption isn’t glamorous. It isn’t sexy. And it really isn’t ‘cool’. When Madonna flies into Malawi and flies out with a precious little boy all you see is the celebrity with her African baby. You don’t get to see the mounds of paper work, the stress of bonding, the comments you get about your unique family, the difficulty of adjusting you child into a new country.
Yes I want people to adopt. I want orphans to find homes. I want parents to realize what a miracle adoption is. But I don’t want adoption to be the new cool thing to do because I don’t want people doing it for the wrong reason. The Daily Beast estimates that 5% of adoptions are disrupted. For children older than 7 this number is raised to 15%. These are the parents who have been so desperate that they have released the child into the foster care system or given the child back to a previous guardian. And then there are thousands of people who struggle through the day to day life of raising an emotionally scarred child. I’ve known several adoptive parents to say, “we had no idea it was going to be this hard.”
And yet they persevere each and every day because they want to make a difference in one child’s life. Some wonder if their child is beyond saving. Some ask what they are doing wrong. Some throw all the parenting books out the window and just vow to love their child, because that is all they have left. To me these are the real heroes of adoption, not Angelina Jolie or Madonna. These are the people that are going to teach a hurting child what love is.
Change a child’s life. Change your life. But do your research first and truly ask yourself, am I ready for this?