Tuesday, November 20, 2007
Families are Forever. Period!
November is National Adoption Month. It is a time to celebrate and honor families formed via adoption and remember all of the children, both in the US and abroad, who need 'forever families'.
That's right-'forever families'.
Contrast the spirit of National Adoption Month to the headlines that have screamed that Angelina Jolie's daughter Zahara's adoption was anything other than legal, binding and forever and the ramifications that these kinds of accusations have, not only on Angelina Jolie's family, but on all families formed via adoption and all of the children who have yet to find their forever families.
Adoption is forever. Period. That is the bedrock promise that parents who expand their families via adoption make. It isn't temporary. Parents can't change their minds and 'return' a child and birthparents who legally terminate their parental rights can not decide at a later date that they want to raise the child.
The concept of forever family is critical to the health and well-being of the children that joined their families through adoption. Think about it for a minute and imagine the anguish the children feel if they think that their family-unlike families not formed by adoption-is temporary and could change at any minute. Talk about having a hard time attaching and forming lasting meaningful relationships.
So as the headlines scream that 'Zahara's parents want her back' remember that she is a real kid-who has already been through the trauma of losing her first family. She needs and deserves a family-as we all do. And what about the millions of kids that, like Zahara, have joined their families through adoption? How do you think they feel when they see the headlines or hear the "news"?
I can tell you how they feel. Scared. Afraid to make 'permanent' bonds with people because the risk of it being taken away is too great.
We need to hold the media accountable for their role in perpetuating the notion that adoption is anything other than permanent. The media can go after Angelina Jolie all they want-she's a grownup-but her children-and my child-have the right to grow up knowing that their family formed-by adoption-is as permanent and lasting as any other family.
And if that doesn't convince you, think of the kids in our foster care system and the kids in orphanages around the world. What does this kind of 'news' do to them?
It fuels the fears that many parents considering adoption have-that they will somehow lose their child to his/her birthparents after they have become a family.
Go ahead and buy magazines and newspaper with stories about Angelina and Brad-but don't buy the ones that exploit their children because it is not only their children that get hurt. All of our children get hurt.
By the way, all evidence points to Zahara's adoption as 'legal and irrevocable'. Do you think you will see that story on the cover of "People"?