Saturday, February 06, 2010

Shopping for Children

Though it has been a while, I still remember the distaste I had when flipping through the books listing children that were available for adoption. Part of me enjoyed looking at the listed children and wondering if my wife and I could make a positive difference in their lives, but I also remember how much it caused us to rule out many children.

Fight this concern if you are going through the process. You need to be a very "educated consumer" if you are going to adopt, especially if you are adopting children from the system.

Some random thoughts:

- While the listings may note some things, learn to read between the lines. They are often like home listings, which hide the flaws or make the flaws seem like bonuses by misnaming them.

- The child(ren) on the page will need a lot of work. You will not find a "perfect match" that doesn't have any problems you can't handle. You won't be able to handle everything, especially since you won't be able to think of everything up front, but you need to make sure you believe you can handle what is listed!

- The system will not tell you all the problems. Children are removed for a reason, so the birth home had to have some strong troubles and those are often caused by things like mental illness, intense anger, etc. Don't let anyone downgrade serious concerns like these. Mental illness issues can cause far more trouble in your life than physical ones. I think part of this is because they aren't always noticeable.

- Watch out for "mild" things like variants of autism (such as Asperger's Syndrome) that don't seem like a big issue, but need to be understood and addressed. I have read that highly skilled technical people (including Bill Gates) may be an "Aspie", so it is not as bad as the autism label makes it seem, but it can lead to many challenges raising a child. In our case, I wish I had known it before. I have many of the traits that fall in the category, so I know someone can be fully functional with them, but it certainly made raising at least one of our children more challenging than it needed to be.

- Step back from any "deal" you have qualms about. Your job is not to save the "tough cases" and you need to remember that. We are not talking a hurt pet here, we are talking a human being with many issues that must be worked through. You cannot work through them with the child if you don't have the ability to do so. Love is not enough, all by itself.

I may write more on this later.