What do you think of when you hear the word "adoption"? Does it bring up the face of someone you know, possibly even someone in your family...or in the mirror? Does it bring up scenes from books, TV, movies, and news stories?
Adoption has so many sides to it, and has touched so many people's lives. It's become a huge part of family life these days. In 2001, there were 1.5 million adopted children in the United States; by the time the results of the 2010 census are reviewed, that number could be 2 million or more!
Many of you have written to us about your experiences:
"I'm adopted from China and my little sis was adopted from China too!" says Claire, 10. "She is 6 years old and sometimes very annoying...she always wants me to play with her. I have friends that are adopted from China as well. No one else in my family is adopted, not even on my Mom's or Dad's side. I'm glad to be adopted because who knows what life would be like back in China."
Jamie, 12, tells us: "I was adopted when I was four years old. When I was young I got passed around to foster parents and there were a lot. My older sister was also adopted. But the horrible thing is we got adopted to separate families! We still get to see each other like once a year though!"
"I am adopted," says Caroline, 13. "I don't really mind it, but one time at camp this little 8 year old girl walked up to me and said, "Are you adopted?" I didn't want to lie so I just said, 'Yes.' Then she said, 'Oh, I wouldn't want to be adopted because then that means my parents don't love me.' I didn't take it too personally because she was only 8 but yeah, a lot of people at that camp thought I was different because of that."
"My mom and my dad are in the process of adopting. They said it can takes months or even years. I am so excited to get a brother or a sister that I can teach stuff to," says Shalonda, 12.
Kaitlyn has a heartwrenching story: "I was put into foster care when I was an infant because my mother abandoned me. When I was with her all I knew was my baby swing, a bottle, and a dirty diaper. She never held me and she didn't care about me. I know all about this because my parents now have told me all about it, and they know because she told them. I went through 5 different foster homes because nobody wanted me. When I was 15 months old, I was put into a family that wanted me. My parents now love me and care for me, and they help me through my difficult decisions. I thank God every day for my parents. Someday I hope to adopt a little girl or boy."
Margaret writes, "I was born in South Korea with a birth defect called a cleft-lip and palate. My birth parents loved me very much but couldn't afford to take care of me. A family in America who badly wanted children and weren't able to have any but were willing to adopt, saw the chance to adopt me and took it. It was very hard for my birth parents to give me up but since they loved me sooooooo much and knew that it was the best thing for me they put me up for adoption. And now, thanks to them, I'm living with my way cool family and my way cool friends in a way cool country!"
"I was adopted when I was just a little baby," says Kelly, 11. "My foster parents didn't tell me until I was 10. The reason my birth parents gave me up...well, they were too young and couldn't raise me. It really doesn't matter much to me. I'm happy with my life, and I have very nice foster siblings, so I'm fine!"
Madi, 13 told us: "My friend is adopted. She was just staying in foster care with her family when I met her. I remember when she was officially adopted we all had a huge party!"
If you don't personally know someone with an adoption story, maybe you know these famous people who are adoptees (meaning they were adopted): Apple Computer founder Steve Jobs, former First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt, country music stars Faith Hill and Tim McGraw, John Lennon of The Beatles, and former President Bill Clinton.
In this IML topic, you'll learn more about the different types of adoption and what it means to parents, children, and families in general, starting with The Basics.
Our thanks to Nicole Falcone, MSW, LSW, school social worker for her help with this topic!