October 5, 2009

We’re Adopting a Baby! Part 2



      To read Part 1 of this post, click on: We’re Adopting a Baby! Part 1

     When I accepted my job, interviewing prospective adoptive couples, I wondered what I would do—how I would feel—when confronted by a couple who might not make the best of parents. This was an experience fate didn’t delay. The case history of the first couple I interviewed was strangely unnerving. All indications pointed to the fact that this couple was unqualified to have a child placed in their care, according to the middle class yardstick by which an agency is expected to judge. First, their income level was barely subsistent, a lower class working man’s income. Second, the manner in which the adoption application was filled in coupled with the lower development of English found in the numerous letters they sent to the agency proved accurately that the education attained by this couple was minimal, even though both parties were high school graduates. (Knowing English is the marker that differentiates the middle class from lower classes in many countries…and opens doors to jobs in fields ranging from customer service to health care…)* Finally, a reference letter from their pastor stated that he wanted to speak to someone from the agency concerning this couple. With all this preliminary information, I expected the couple to fulfill the lower class image by dressing in an unkempt manner. When they arrived for their interview, a half hour early, they appeared in middle class attire, dressed very neatly. A more positive factor was their projected image of a solid marriage—definitely a desirable characteristic. But equally important was their desire to create a family. Difficult as it might be for a man to understand, a woman is not complete without a child. And this woman was obviously lacking this fulfillment.

     The final statement on the case came from the visit to the pastor. He claimed he would not make any recommendation at all, but would give his comments. To summarize, the family was replete with neuroses and psychosomatic illnesses, and their emotional stability was rocky.

     This case raised many questions in my mind. The enormity of this job—or my “hobby,” as my husband affectionately called it—began to register. In today’s world, there are many couples who desire children and yet are infertile. There is also a shortage of the all-desired white infant with blonde hair, natural curls, and blue eyes. Just exactly what should be the criteria for judging both the interested prospective couple and the available infant in this “seller’s market?”

     In today’s world, is it necessary to be materially accomplished and successful in order to become one of the lucky couples? Cannot a deep, enduring love be sufficient to be a parent? Who are we to play God—to decide who is and who is not to have a family through adoption? Is having a family a right? Or a privilege? Am I—is any human being—fit to make a judgment on which persons will or will not make successful parents? Can anyone ever be suitable to sit in this judgment seat, regardless of the training involved?

     I don’t know the answers to any of these questions. I only know that each of us must do what we can, based on past knowledge and experience, and using the best tools available to us. Someone has to take the responsibility to determine the future of the many deeply disappointed infertile couples, and the unfortunate child who cannot be cared for by his/her biological parents.

     And I’m afraid that, as one who is being judged as well as one who is doing the judging, that there has to be basic criteria in this work—whether the criteria is right or whether it proves to be wrong. The perfect key remains to be found.

*Quote from Matthew Kam, a Carnegie Mellon University computer scientist. Written in a Tribune Review article, “CMU researcher’s games aid efforts to teach English,” by Mike Cronin. Article refers to English language knowledge in residents of foreign countries and English as a second language in the United States, but I suggest it can also refer to United States residents who have never learned proper English skills. Sept. 10, 2009

To read Part 3 of We’re Adopting a Baby, click on: 

We’re Adopting a Baby! Part 3


Adoptee Finds Biological Family: Mine

Oprah and I: Adoption Reunion Experiences



Mystery in St. Francis Cemetery in Minersville (PA)



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