Now untie your knickers! I’m not for a second belittling the problem, devaluing the precious children in need or implying we should be focussing on more important challenges such as investing in Candles or presidential property bonds, in fact, my position is quite the opposite.
Lets take some numbers, approximate values reflecting the orphan challenge we as a country face. Listen up Christians! You come off worse than anyone, especially considering we have the mandate to solve this problem from none other than the creator of the universe.
So if we take the number of ADOPTABLE children at a conservative 500 000, ignoring their age and the fact that the older they become the less adoptable they really are. Then lets look at the average number of adoptions per year and take the figure of 2400 as being fairly representative of the truth. I say truth, but really I am being quite generous with my description of the efficiency with which the whole process runs.
Now employing some simple 4th grade division we can see that, if no more children ever become adoptable, or at least for the next couple hundred years, given our lightning pace and sniper like approach to this challenge, we should be done and dusted with placing all these little ones in a little over 200 years! Now obviously they won’t live that long nor will I, but given that I am declaring from on high that there shall be no more adoptable children hence forth, I am happy with stretching the truth to prove the point that this is ridiculous. Added to this is the percentage of Christians that need to adopt in order to banish the concept of a child without out a family to the pits of hell, that would be 7%, oh and that’s worldwide! I think it is fair to call this problem ridiculous!
Like many before me, until I had this crisis on my radar, I had several opinions on the matter but no real conviction or urgency to solve the problem, all this changed when the numbers above started to permeate my heart and soul. One of the amazing things with opinions is that they are much like bums, everyone has one! Unless something went wrong somewhere in your gene pool.
I would like to target a couple of these today and effectively smash and banish them from the collective South African mindset.
1. How can any parent give away their child.
Phrased as a question but intended as a statement this was my opinion several years ago. But after having both a home-grown and a store-bought child, I must say that my paradigm has been shattered. There is nothing that could have caused me to give my first-born son up for adoption. There is no situation that I could imagine where I could willingly part with my blond-haired cherub on the day he was born. Taking this statement and my reality, It dawned on me that for someone to actually give up their child, they must be in a space that I can’t even imagine the challenges and difficulties facing them. If I use this as my new frame of reference, my opinion of the birth mom changes from an uncaring, heartless, selfish and irresponsible person to the first hero that child ever encountered. My son’s mom is forever etched in my mind as a pillar of love and strength, because it was her who decided that we would be the ones blessed with her baby to raise and love as our own. Thank You!
2. The process is too involved.
I sat in our first adoption class looking at the white board on which we were to list the problems with the adoption process. With first grade wisdom I blurted out how the process should be less involved, after all, I had so much experience. My expression of knowledge was shot down and I felt rather stupid. But, thankfully I grew up and realised that in a process where you are effectively changing the lives of many people and altering their futures, a preschool approach would not suffice. the checks and balances are there to ensure that the child and future forever family find themselves in the best position to make this permanent change permanent! Imagine the hurt for both the child and families involved if the process was to hit a snag. I am now thankful for the courses, the readings, the meetings, the counselling and the equipping that we went through. Without all of that, we would have been even more over our heads than we found ourselves on placement day!
3. Adoption is the same as natural birth, so anyone can support you.
The challenges you face as an adoptive parent are unique to the adoption process. Natural doesn’t mean easier, but please don’t think that because you smashed the natural exam that you will breeze through the adoption one or that you can provide ample counsel to parents going through the birth pains of adoption. However, having said that, any support when given in love and graciousness will lift the spirit of anyone finding themselves in a place neither they nor others have journeyed through.
4. Adoption is for the infertile.
Once upon a time, when families where many and children were few, the idea of adoption may have fitted neatly into the idea that adoption is about families receiving children. Nowadays, the number of children in need of a loving home has risen to such blistering proportions that the whole system has been slipped on its head. It is now about children needing families and not families wanting children. Our approach to adoption needs to take this into account as must legislation, structures and any other part of the adoption process. We need the process to be sufficiently streamlined in order to speed up and make the process more efficient, but without losing the in-depth stringent checks and balances required to make a forever placement just that, Forever!
5. The most important thing is to protect culture.
I am shameless in my position that the typical idea of “Culture” in South African adoption best practice is a luxury we can ill afford. By all means disagree, but if you base placement on culture, or at least as a major factor versus a nice to have, you will be intrenching the idea that the colour of my skin trumps the power of my love and that the concept of adoption is slightly less valuable than naturally born.
6. Someone else better suited will do it.
Obviously this approach is not yielding the result we hope for. The greatest error here is that many believe that if I can’t adopt, then I can’t help. I used to think everyone should adopt, or at least every Christian, I am now of the opinion that just like not all people should be parents, not all people should adopt. That being said, I don’t think we can get away from the fact that we, speaking to the professing and possessing Christians mainly now, need to be involved in someway in something aimed at solving the orphan crisis. There is no body better suited than you! What you do may differ from the next person, but don’t let the difference be that you’re doing nothing.
7. Only couples please.
Given the numbers above, and the moral high ground we have reserved for ourselves, there is a difference between what we say and think versus what we actually do. In a perfect world, all things being equal, my best for children would be a loving attentive, present, engaged and purposeful Mom and Dad. But again, much like the culture argument. A single Mom or Dad could be the forever family that is needed.
8. What a hero, I hope they appreciate all you’ve done.
I remember being told of the stories of people walking up to adoptive parents and complimenting them on how special they were and how they hoped the child appreciates what has been done for them. Parents, please tell me at what point your children start appreciating all you do? Natural or Adopted, they are still kids! Please can all the silly people stop asking stupid questions. Just because my 3-year-old started off life in a vastly different way to his older brother, it certainly hasn’t changed the fact that he is still a normal 3-year-old little boy.
9. Too expensive.
Well yes and no! In some countries there are organisations who offer adoption funding, not so in South Africa. Government facilitated placements are obviously much cheaper than private, but like many areas in life, you may get what you pay for in terms of professionalism etc. My point here and personal gripe is no-one has pushed the issue in open forums. One question/potential area to challenge is that I can deduct the medical costs of my son’s birth from my taxable income, but I can’t do that with adoption costs, seems a little unbalanced and unfair.
10. I want my own kids first, then I’ll consider opening up my home to them.
Oh how this statement digs at my very core. If you start out the conversation this way you have already misunderstood the power and completeness of adoption. My sons are mine, one came into my family through birth, the other through adoption. You are also setting yourself up for an act of charity as oppose to an opening of your heart, home and family. My adoptive son is mine, he is my real son, as much my natural son is. I don’t have my own son and then an adoptive child, I have two sons. Full stop!
So there it is my little list of 10, there are plenty more, but these were some myths I encountered and through my journey they have been BUSTED!
Let me know your list.