Adoption is about childless couples getting children, right?


Adoption is about a child without a family getting a stable, permenant family to care for him or her.

It’s better for a rich person to adopt a child than to let them live in poverty, right?

Not always.

The “cure” for poverty is…money, not adoption.  In the case of poor children, often the extended family takes them in, despite the financial hardship, to raise.

Another belief is that a stable, rich, middle class home is better for kids than keeping them with poor relatives, such as elderly grandmothers or aunts.

Wrong again.

Kids need roots,and keeping in touch with family is important.

Some adopted children, who know they have relatives, but are taken in by strangers, they often start thinking they are “no good” or that the “evil” mother “stole” them from their family. A friend of mine went through hell when her kid became a teenager started acting out because his only memory of his father was saying goodbye to the man at the airport. In this case, the boy’s mother was dead, and his beloved father had placed him for adoption when he developed terminal cancer. But children don’t understand such things…

Which brings up another point: It is best to keep the children in the same culture, race, and religion.

All of these are again part of a child’s roots.

There was a minor scandal in the US after the TV show “Different Strokes” came out. The show inspired many couples to adopt “cute” black kids. Black social workers intervened. Often these kids had families or close family friends who were willing to take them in, but the white social workers turned them down for being single, or not having enough bedrooms.

A similar change in adoption policies of Native American children was implemented by most tribal councils.

As a result, most adoption agencies stopped inter-racial placement, except for hard to place children.

So does that mean that I oppose adoptions, or oppose adoptions from other cultures?

No, because I did adopt two sons from overseas. But my sons were given to me because keeping them together was more important for the boys, and older, school aged children are hard to place.

It helped that I spoke Spanish and had lived overseas, and was Catholic (my older son insisted on a Catholic home).

But in adoption, the first option should be family members. Programs that help fund the child’s expenses often allow these children to be cared for at home.

The second option is adoption by a local family, so that the child stays near his roots.

The third option is adoption in a stable two parent family from a different culture, including overseas placement, especially for infants and small children who do best in a family environment.

Option number four is local foster families: Many third world countries have  group homes with trained parents to raise these children.

Option number five is adoption by a single parent. This includes gay adoption and adoption by divorced persons (in countries that allow this option), but the parent has to be checked for stability and the possibility of marriage with a person who would not accept the child.

Option number six is an institution such as an orphanage. These give good “care” but not the personal love needed by children to thrive, and is only an option because option number seven is having the child live on the streets supporting himself by odd jobs, including petty crime.

Most street kids–and in many countries, many children in orphanages– are not “orphans” but runaways or abandoned by families, or who fled abuse in their homes, and who prefer life on the street to a bad home situation.

In the Philippines alone, there are a million and a half street kids.

It should, however, be noted that in poor countries, often parents place children in orphanages as a temporary placement when food is lacking.

For example, in Africa, baby formula is expensive, and cows to milk rare. So if a mom dies, either a relative nurses the baby, or you place it in an orphanage, or it dies.

One major scandal was that Madonna’s first child had a family who placed him for such care, but was adopted away by her. Never mind that he had a family.

Madonna’s defenders saw the orphanage placement as “not wanting the child” when the reality was that the child would have died without placement. Similarly, her defenders criticized the father’s quick remarriage, when poverty means that an unmarried father has no way to care for even his older children.

The first adoption by Madonna became a scandal: it had all the appearances of “rich lady” adopts “poor black child” from loving family.

So it is no wonder that this time around, the courts turned her down.

Finally, most countries want their children adopted into stable families: few countries would allow the adoption by a recently divorced single mother.

This isn’t to say that a single or divorced  mom can’t adopt and raise a child, but that most countries would insist a waiting period after a divorce before adoption…especially for a mom who has had multiple marriages and whose sexual antics on stage would make many conservative Africans blush.

Another problem is age: Madonna is 50, and many adoption agencies (not Malawi but other countries) will not place a very young child with a parent more than 40 or 45 years.

So what is the alternative?

Well, with a fraction of her airline ticket, she could support an orphan with a local family for a year.

The kid won’t wear designer clothing and have his or her own personal nanny, but he will be loved and cared for.

And Madonna?

Sorry, I just don’t think that adopting matched black kids is a nice way to get publicity.


Nancy Reyes is a retired physician living in the rural Philippines.  She has two adopted boys from Colombia, now adults.

Her webpage is Finest Kind Clinic and Fishmarket.

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