THE MISSING LINK
How is a family created?
Oftentimes, we think of families being made when two people fall in love, get married, and then the woman gives birth to a child. As a novelty song goes, “first comes love, then comes marriage, then comes the baby in the carriage.”
Bluntly put it, the methodology is not earth moving. The events in the story are very predictable. And at the end of the roller coaster ride, just like fairytales, we all wish that every family “will live happily ever after.”
But there is another way of creating a family.
Since time immemorial, there has already been a common practice throughout the world in hopes of establishing a family that has always been an essential unit in every nation – adoption.
Dean Ernesto L. Pineda defines adoption as “a juridical act or a proceeding in rem which creates a relationship between two persons similar to that of a legitimate fraternity and filiation”. Translation: adoption means a legal process that allows someone to become the parent of a child, even though the parent and child are not related by blood. In other words, a woman and a man are not the child's "birth parents."
Obviously, the child did not grow inside the woman's body. But in every other way, adoptive parents are the child's parents. By going through this legal process of adoption, they are promising to take care of the child and make him or her part of their family including the right to bear the surname of the adopter, receive support, and inherit.
A Meek Choice
Without a doubt, being a parent entails a lot of sacrifice. Nevertheless, having one’s own family is everyone’s aspiration that brings about priceless happiness. Definitely a treasure beyond price, to have a child is the extension of one’s life. Generations are built and legacies are left through one’s children, grandchildren, great grandchildren and so on and so forth. So it's no wonder people want to have children in their lives.
Ordinarily, some people choose to adopt because they have medical problems that make it impossible for them to have children of their own. Some single adults, although they don't have a partner or want to get married, confess that they too want to be parents.
“I am gay. We all know that homosexuals can not procreate since our partners are of the same sex as ours. My partner and I want to adopt children later on, in our lives.”, says Stephen*, a young entrepreneur.
Other children might also get adopted when one of their parents remarries. The new husband or wife might adopt the child as a way to show that they now belong to one big happy family. Avid showbiz spectators are in the know that KC Concepcion, love child of the now defunct Sharon-Gabby love story, is now KC Pangilinan - legally, the daughter of the Megastar’s other half, Senator Kiko Pangilinan.
It's good that many people want to adopt children. But why do children need to be adopted? Most of us are not adopted. We fortunately grow up with our birth parents. But sometimes, a woman bears a baby when she is young and before she's able to take good care of it. Other times, when babies are adopted from other countries, the baby's mother could be older and might even have other children already.
“My greatest fear is to grow old alone. I would rather be a single unwed mother than live a life of a spinster. ”, says Carla*, a call center agent. “Personally, adoption will be my last resort”, she exclaims.
Burden of Responsibility
Adopting a child is a big responsibility. You need to have enough money for the, clothes, education, and other necessities of the child. A parent must also be willing to work very hard, not to mention earn an ample amount of money. One must be financially stable in order to raise another person’s life. Financial problems often equate having children to additional burden and responsibility.
Another factor is stress – both physical and emotional. Parents need to wake up in the middle of the night when their adopted baby needs to eat. They also can not go out with their friends any time they want to. Why? Because someone needs to watch their adopted child. Gone are the happy-go-lucky-days of single blessedness or the honeymoon stage. Also, it can be hard for someone to have a baby and still be in school or college. Even if a woman is willing to care for the baby, raising a child might be very hard - or even impossible - if the woman is poor and lives in a poor country.
It is a very hard choice, but some women decide their babies would have better lives if they lived with adoptive parents. It is not new to hear stories of children sold in exchange of a measly amount of money, “given” to other relatives, or left in front of one’s doorstep. Children are treated like puppies or kittens for sale, or parcels delivered like balikbayan boxes. Inhuman, immoral, and spiteful as these situations may be, we are all aware that they do happen everyday.
Often, adoptive parents are older and more able to handle the responsibilities that come with being someone's mother or father. In some cases, an older child may be adopted because his or her birth parents tried to take care of him or her, but carry out feeble and pathetic efforts. The child may have been abused and it was decided that a new home was needed. Sometimes a child lives with a foster family for a while before being adopted.
With some adoptions, the birth mother or father can stay involved in the child's life. That doesn't mean the child would live with his or her birth parents, but that he or she may see him or her once in a while or exchange letters or photographs. In other situations, the child doesn't even get to see his or her birth parents at all, as revealed in the case of the infamous, Aimee Marcos, youngest daughter of the controversial Marcos family.
Exceptions to the Rules
Children who were adopted are no different than other children. But if you were adopted, you may have a little more on your mind than your friends. Sometimes, learning you were adopted may make it hard for you to pay attention in school, or worse, to almost everything.
Many children who were adopted wonder about their birth parents and why they didn't keep them. They may wonder where they came from or what nationalities they are. They might wonder if they look like their birth parents and what their relatives are like. They might think about these uncertainties a lot, even if they really love their adoptive parents.
You might have questions if your family includes children who were adopted and those who weren't. Unfortunately, someone might say that you are not your parents' "real" child, but that is not true. Adoption makes you a real son or daughter of your adoptive parents.
Unfortunately, in reality, not all rights vested by law to legitimate children are enjoyed by the adopted children. There is discrimination because the adoptee is only limited to his relationship with his adopter. Although the relationship is legitimate, it does not extend to the other relatives of the adoptive parents. Unlike the legitimate children, the adopted children cannot be considered as relatives of the ascendants as well as the collateral relatives of the adopting parents. Sad enough, the adoptive child would not be considered a relative of the legitimate children, which the adoptive parents ay have after the adoption.
If you're adopted, you might sometimes feel like no one knows what it feels like. But you're not alone. Every child is different, and adopted kids are no exception. They come in all sorts of packages. Some boys and girls who were abused or unloved prior to the adoption will react to those painful experiences in some way, usually negatively. Others, even those who were not mistreated, will struggle with identity problems and wonder why their "real" mothers and fathers didn't want them. They may be driven to find their biological parents during or after adolescence to learn more about their heritage and family of origin.
I must emphasize, however, that many adopted kids do not go through any of these personal crises. They take root where they are replanted and never give a thought to the questions that trouble some of their peers. As with so many other behavioral issues, the critical factors are the particular temperament of the child and how he or she is handled by the parents.
I hope people won't be reluctant to adopt a child because some special problems might — but probably won't — develop. Every child has his or her own particular challenges. Every child can be difficult to raise.
Every child requires all the creative energy and talent a parent can muster. But every child is also worth the effort, and there is no higher calling than to do that job excellently.
Blessings in Disguise
Let me add one more thought. I knew a married couple who had waited for years to adopt a baby. When a female infant was finally made available to them, they were anxious to know if she was healthy and of good heritage. They asked if her biological parents had used drugs, how tall they were, whether or not they had attended college, and all other questions of tracing one’s past. Then, the father told me later, he realized what he and his wife were doing. They were approaching the adoption of this baby much like they would have bought a used car. They were "kicking tires" and "testing the engine." But then they thought, "What in the world are we doing? That little girl is a human being with an eternal soul. We have been given the opportunity to mold and shape her as a child of God, and here we are demanding that she be a high-quality product." They repented of their inappropriate attitudes and embraced that child in love.
Adopted children, like all children, are blessings from God, and we are privileged indeed to be granted the honor of raising one of His precious kids. After all, they could be the missing link in some other person’s life.
* Name has been changed to protect the individual