There are so many things wrong with the way adoption is commonly viewed, and this is becoming even more damaging, with abortion laws across the world meaning that more and more babies are being born without homes to go to.
Many of these issues are bound up intrinsically with sayings like ‘blood’s thicker than water’. As a child who grew up on Tracy Beaker, my understanding of adoption for a very long time was that it was, largely, for people who couldn’t have children themselves – whether that be for want of a partner or infertility. Now, my understanding has increased to include people who do not want to give birth themselves, homosexual couples, people who want to give a child a home – the list goes on. However, it must be acknowledged that for a lot of people, adoption is seen as a last resort.
Early noughties Tracy Beaker excluded, media representations of adoption are so frequently those of couples, or individuals, who have tried absolutely everything to have a baby ‘of their own’, and failed. And of course, they are looking for babies, infants, not fully grown children with complex and developed lives. Distressingly, the media appears to reflect reality. According to statistics, last year 70% of children adopted in England were between the ages of 1 and 4 years old, whilst only 2% were aged between 10 and 15.
What’s upsetting here, is the fact that it is becoming so popular to discuss policies of “adopt don’t shop” when it comes to pets, but people do not seem to feel the same about children. Obviously that is not to say that pregnancy is ‘shopping’, or to damn anyone because, of course, procreation is a huge part of life. Where I take issue is with people becoming increasingly moralistic when thinking about the dogs who have suffered and deserve good homes, but not applying this same thinking to 12 year olds in care, who also deserve loving homes.
Understandably, adoption isn’t for everyone, there are many constraints, financial and otherwise. Nevertheless, if you are in the position where you can give a child a family, a home, stability and consistency, they why would you not do so? Equally, if you cannot have a child for whatever reason, why would you leave it til the last thought to consider adopting children above the straining teething age – the benefits to adoption go far beyond the obvious. Parenting is not exclusively about having a tiny baby that looks and cries and smells like you; millions of people across the world, legally adopted, step-parented, or otherwise, are testament to the fact that ‘water’ is sometimes a much better, happier option than blood.