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We have this concept, in the adoption world, called a “child profile,” which describes what a family is willing to consider when looking to adopt a child, such as age-range or health-related needs. It’s a useful concept. Like many aspects of adoption, though, it gets sticky pretty quickly.
At worst, the perception of this term is one of a “wish list.” But children aren’t something you order online.
At best, the idea is that a family and their social worker(s), together, have determined the characteristics of a child whom the family is best suited to parent. Careful consideration happens here, including looking at strengths and weaknesses, support systems, hobbies and interests, as well as family make-up and dynamics.
Fear and fantasy play significant roles here, as well. Fear of so many “what if” scenarios. What if we can’t do it? What if this child doesn’t like us? What if we don’t love this child?“What if,” as my rural Texas grandfather used to say, “your head were a pumpkin and the hogs were to get it?”
Fantasy can throw a wrinkle in this decision as well. We like to conjure up those Norman Rockwell scenes when we think of our future with children, whether through adoption or biology.
The truth is, both ways of thinking are extreme and are unlikely to happen just as we picture. Children tend to bring with them their own personalities and passions. Their Norman Rockwell might look more like Salvador Dali.
Families need to push through those fears and fantasies toward the reality of the types of children who so desperately need adoption both here in the U.S. and around the world. In addition to the infants who, in past years, were adopted by the loving families they needed, today we see children who likewise need families … but these kids are older. They have a sibling (or two!). They have experienced far too much trauma in their young lives, and their bodies and minds will reflect this.
But you can do it. They need you. We’re here to help. When families consider the characteristics of the child they might best parent, we would encourage them to think outside the box. We encourage you to do the same. Talk to other adoptive families and hear their stories. Get to know the children who are waiting. You’ll discover that, although they may not be quite like you originally expected, these children are pretty great. Fascinating. Funny. Creative. Helpful. And 100 percent adoptable.
Be open to the unexpected.
Allow yourself to be charmed by the individual.
There is a family for every child. No child should be considered unadoptable.
Feature image: Freedom from Want, by Norman Rockwell
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