Family Life and Adoption: Humanity’s Capacity for Care
For many couples unable to have children, and increasingly, couples who choose to adopt rather than, or in addition, having children of their own, experience the joys of parenthood. Increasingly, single people are also choosing family life and adoption rather than foregoing parenthood because they haven’t found a suitable partner. Adoption also benefits children by providing them with the stable loving environment that young, economically challenged, or inexperienced birth parents are unable to provide.
According to the most recent statistics, global child adoption rates have declined significantly in the past decade, from 22,991 in 1994 to 7092 in 2013. When most people think of adoption, they picture newborn infants, but surprisingly, children under one year of age represented only 541 of adoptions, with the greatest percentage of adopted children, at 2,682, being children aged 1-2 years old, followed by children aged 5-12 at 2,031. Of the children adopted in 2013, 54.6% were female and 45.4% were male.
Family Life and Adoption: A Global Perspective
The countries in which the most adoptions occurred in 2013 were China, Russia, Ukraine, Ethiopia, and South Korea. While it may appear that the need may be greatest in those countries, statistics often don’t tell the whole story. For example, in 2011, of the 423,000 children in the U.S. without a permanent family, only 115,000 were eligible for adoption. This is partly the result of family life and adoption laws that grant birth parents suffering from addiction the opportunity to obtain treatment before severing their parental rights.
According to a 2009 U.N. report, 20 countries still did not have legal procedures in place for the adoption of children. Each country’s laws, restrictions and requirements are different. For example, at the time of the report, single people were only allowed to adopt in 15 countries.
As late as the 19th century, many adoptions were for the benefit of adults rather than children. Common reasons for adoption included preserving inheritances, the continuation of family names, and expanding political power and influence by forging family alliances. It was only in the late 19th century that the welfare of children began to become the primary focus of adoption.
Questions, Benefits and Challenges Surrounding Family Life and Adoption
One site addresses many of the questions as well as myths surrounding adoption. One of those questions is whether it is possible for a parent to love an adoptive child as much as a biological one. If we spend time as well as money on that which we love, the fact that almost 75% of adopted children are read or sung to every day answers that question with a resounding yes.
The financial costs of adopting a child in the U.S. range from $5000 to $40,000, depending upon the type of agency and whether it is an inter-country adoption.
There are many benefits of adopting a child, for parents, children, and even birth mothers. One of the clearest benefits to the child is knowing they were wanted. Unlike pregnancies, an unplanned family life and adoption doesn’t exist.
Current adoption trends are also less traumatic for birth mothers than in the past, when they were not given any information about the adoptive parents and often never saw the child again. Today, open adoptions in which birth mothers continue to play a limited role in the child’s life are becoming far more common. In fact, currently, 67 percent of private adoptions in the U.S. are open to varying degrees according to agreements reached by the birth mother and the adoptive parents.
There are also some unique challenges associated with family life and adoption. Several studies conducted with adoptive parents revealed that many of those challenges are dependent upon the age of the child when the adoption took place. Older children often face psychological concerns such as abandonment issues and attachment disorders. The degree of psychological counseling necessary to successfully address these issues can also depend to a large extent on the number of moves the child experienced before being adopted. Shockingly, some children have experienced as many as 58 moves. Older adopted children may also experience more difficulty during social transitions, such as attending a new school.
However, there are not many difficulties associated with family life and adoption that can’t be overcome with love and commitment, two things that adoptive parents have in abundance. There is no other explanation for the existence of so many adopted people who went on to become successful.
A few of the most famous and successful people who began life as an adopted child include inventor and business mogul Steve Jobs, singers and musicians Faith Hill and John Lennon, and former U.S. President Gerald Ford.