Growing up, I witnessed first-hand how adoption can mean life or death for a child. Most of my early childhood memories consist of my mom screaming or crying in the middle of the night after she had once again consumed too much alcohol. As I got older my mom's addiction got worse, not only getting drunk during the night but during the day too. In movies you often see friends purposely getting drunk and doing humorous, and often entertaining things, while tipsy, but when my mother was intoxicated she was unrecognizable. A mean, menacing, disgusting abuser who hurt her kids and her husband. Many times she would even call me and my siblings vulgar names and demoralize us, causing scars that will never heal but will with time and love, fade.
Then there was my dad. In and out of jail for most of my life due to theft, drugs, and wife abuse. To this day I actually don't know what he was imprisoned for and what he wasn't. All I know is he went to jail numerous times and being a child, I missed him. I wondered where my dad was and if he was okay. I cried for him. And when my mom was inebriated and was mean, I got scared and wanted him there to protect me, even though he caused more harm than anything.
When my dad wasn't in jail it was a different story. Most nights I would wake up to something in my house breaking or one of my younger siblings shaking me awake with tears running down their cheeks because they were scared. I had two younger siblings and two older ones. We all witnessed our parents hit each other, punch each other, and often-times, worse. My older sisters would routinely try to break up their fights while my younger siblings and I cried as we watched. Sometimes we hid in a bedroom. These memories are more than six years old, yet they are still vividly fresh in my mind.
If I hadn't been adopted when I was eleven, I don't know what would have happened to me or my siblings. Would I have fallen into the trap that my parents set for me, running to alcohol and drugs as an escape? Would I have become a thief like my father? Gotten married only to abuse my husband and children? I am glad that I don't know the answers to these questions, but for thousands of other kids in the United States and millions in the world, they have to live with the results. They turn out like their neglectful parents, with no one to foster or adopt them. No one to show them that they are loved, unique, and significant. No one to be their parent.
Today, there are nearly 400,000 children in the U.S.foster care system, with more than 100,000 of those children waiting for someone to adopt them. With so many children who need parents, they are depending on strangers to adopt them, but according to the Harris Poll 2017 U.S. Adoption Attitudes Survey, only 25% of those who participated in the survey have ever considered adoption and even fewer people have actually adopted.
These numbers can quickly become discouraging for children who are looking to be adopted. Imagine what effect these statistics have on kids who needs a parent? It tells them that it is impossible for them. But how is this problem going to be solved? The only way to solve this problem is to either find a way for kids to stop being placed in foster care or to look to other places where there is interest in adoption. Evidently, the only realistic solution is to find another area of interest for adoption.
This leads us to same-sex couple adoptions. According to Lifelong Adoptions, nearly 2 million gay or lesbian couples have shown an interest in adoption, but only recently did gay adoption become legal in all U.S. states. In 2017, a federal judge struck down the last law in the U.S. that banned gay couples from adopting, yet despite this new policy, many people still believe that same-sex couples should not be allowed to adopt children. The reasons for this mindset usually revolves around religious beliefs and the idea that gay couples cannot effectively raise kids. But this is simply not true. Lifelong Adoptions states that, "Gays and lesbians tend to be more committed and motivated parents." The website continues on to explain how children of gay couples often tend to be more tolerant towards others and self-aware. It is also reported that growing up in a gay household does not cause a child to "become gay."
Of the same-sex couples in the United States, 115,000 have children, with thousands of success stories. One gay couple is actively working to change the foster care system for the better. Rob and Reece Scheer, a gay couple who raise their four adopted children, founded Comfort Cases, an organization that fills bags for foster kids. Their mission is, "inspiring communities to bring dignity and hope to youth in foster care." By giving kids bags filled with useful items, kids will not have to carry their possessions in trash bags. As a former foster kid I was told countless times, "quickly throw your favorite things in this bag." Every single time I was handed a trash bag.
I was only 1 of the 100,000 kids that needed to be adopted. It was simply one of the lucky ones that got adopted, but for the other 99,999 others who are praying for parents (or a parent), they will continue to wait. If having two dads or two moms means a child having a home filled with love, joy, and no neglect or abuse, then that has to be something that people must learn to accept. Regardless of beliefs on sexuality. A family is a family. No matter what shape or form it comes in.
"2017 US Adoption Attitudes Survey ." February 2017. harris poll . About the children . n.d.
Karimi, Faith. U.S. Judge lifts ban on adoption by same-sex souples in Mississippi. 1 April 2016.
LGBT Adoption Statistics. n.d.
Our Mission . n.d.