November is National Adoption Month, a month set aside each year to raise awareness about the adoption of children and youth from foster care. This year’s theme is, “You don’t have to be perfect to be a perfect parent.”
According to the Child Welfare Information Gateway, adoption is essential for the permanency of many children, including:
- Children and youth in foster care who will not be reunited with their birth parents. In many cases these children are adopted by other birth relatives.
- Other U.S. infants and children whose birth parents make adoption plans for them. Birth mothers or fathers may or may not have ongoing contact with the adoptive family or child.
- Children in other countries who need families. In intercountry adoptions, little or no information may be known about a child’s birth family at the time of adoption.
In 1976 it was Governor Michael Dukakis of Massachusetts who declared that there be an Adoption Week. This became the first major endeavor to promote awareness of the need for caring adoptive families for children in foster care.
As of September 2009 there were approximately 423,773 children in the US foster care system, awaiting a placement. In Massachusetts, there are approximately 10,000 children in care with 2,400 with a goal of adoption.
Adoption is an extremely sensitive topic for many whom have considered adoption and/or chosen to give their child up for adoption.
As a former teen parent, I considered adoption during my pregnancy. As I look back now, I feel ashamed that I ever thought about giving my child up. At that time I didn’t feel equipped with the resources to be able to parent effectively. I wasn’t taught how to be a Mother. I wasn’t employed at the time nor did I have a place of my own. I didn’t have a plan. So how could I parent a child? How could I be responsible for another life? I was beyond scared, I was terrified.
About halfway through my pregnancy I remember reaching out to my oldest sister, whom I’ve always admired. I asked for her support. I asked her to parent my daughter if I wasn’t able. To be her Mommy. To provide for her and laugh and cry with her. To teach her good manners and how to tie her shoes. To be there to record birthdays and read bedtime stories. I doubted my abilities to be a caring and competent woman and mother to the baby growing inside of me. And it was in that moment of talking with my sister that I could admit that I was scared about becoming a parent. My immediate family, was thankfully extremely supportive of my having a child. I didn’t want to let them down with feelings of insecurities or anxieties. I was able to lay my fears on the table, and it was then when I was able to realize, you don’t have to be perfect to be a parent. So what if I had never changed a diaper before. I’d learn. And I did. Choosing to parent my daughter was the best decision for me. I am perfectly content with being an imperfectly perfect parent, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.