Tuesday morning the adoption of my newest, darling granddaughter was finalized. Saturday our family will gather at the temple to be a part of her sealing to our family for all eternity and Sunday she will be blessed. It's shaping up to be a wondrous, happy week.
Naturally my mind has turned often to the miracle of adoption lately. I feel deep gratitude to the young mothers who loved their babies enough to give them two parents and a better chance in life than they could.
I feel a kind of sadness for the television shows and popular culture push for birth mothers who haven't finished school and have no real means of support, to keep their babies. I see young women who are emotionally immature, alone, or trying to escape dysfunctional homes being taught to think "if you keep your baby you'll have someone who loves you", "only a bad person would give away her child", "It'll be so much fun to have a baby," "don't worry about the money; there's government financial help for single mothers," "what will he think of you when he learns he was adopted?" or parents who insist "you can't give away my grandchild." Notice none of these concerns are actually for the baby. Almost always when there's no chance of marriage or a continuing loving relationship between the parents, premature parenthood is in neither the young mother's or her baby's best interest.
Too often single girls who keep their babies end up living a life of poverty. Their children are more likely to do without essentials, many suffer abuse from their mothers' boyfriends, and they're less likely to finish high school or go on to college. There are exceptions of course, but it's so much harder. I've seen grandparents who struggle to care for grandchildren, who love them, and act as parents, then suddenly have the children torn from their home when the mother decides to marry and take the children far away. I've also seen grandparents left in charge of their single child's baby who are physically unable to provide the needed care, leaving the baby or toddler unintentionally neglected.
Adoptions these days are very open. The young woman who chooses to place her child in a stable home can receive regular reports and pictures to assure her of the child's well-being. In some cases she can see the child at regular intervals. She can also finish her education, mature, establish a career, marry, and pursue her dreams, knowing the child she loves is being properly cared for and has the advantages of a loving home, enough to eat, the prospect of higher education, and the love of an extended family.
One of the greatest heartbreaks a couple can face is the knowledge that they can't have children. Here you have a couple who are committed to each other, financially prepared for parenthood, mature enough to be good parents, but for some reason they can't conceive. If these parents are fortunate enough to be allowed to adopt a child, I assure you they feel nothing but love and admiration for the birth mother who honestly considers her baby's future needs above her own. They respect her courage in completing the pregnancy and letting go of a piece of herself for the child's better good.
Adoption is no guarantee the child will have no problems and the parents will always know how to deal with every issue, but the same can be said for all children. Children don't come with how-to manuals, but adoptive parents receive more training than most as the proceed through the pre-adoption process. In my state they have to pass a pretty extensive background check as well. If anyone doubts an adopted child is loved as much as one born into a family, let me assure you there is no basis for that fear An adopted child is always wanted. One of my most treasured memories is that of my daughter when her first adopted child was placed in her arms by his birth mother. The look of joy, of rightness, of love on these two young women's faces is a memory I hold priceless. The same feelings of love and awe I experience holding my other grandchildren is there for these two adopted ones. I never find myself thinking, this one is adopted and this one isn't. They're all my grandchildren and all eleven are the most precious children in the world. If my experience is an indication of a trend, I'd say adoption is truly a win-win proposition for all concerned. My deepest thanks goes out to two brave young women who gave my grandchildren life, then gave them the precious gift of love by allowing them to be adopted.