Sunday, January 8, 2012

Heritage of Words - The Children Who Wait

12. The Children Who Wait

The essay The Children Who Wait talks about the adoption system of children. She talks about the children adoption system before and after 1960 (present).

Until about 1960 there was a trend to adopt only the healthy white infants. A child should be white, healthy and in small age to be adopted. All the disabled and diseased children, blacks, children beyond infancy (grown up) minority and mixed racial children were almost ignored. The family did not adopt them. However, in the last two decades, i.e. 1960-1980, the field of adoption has undergone a radical change. Such ignored children, who waited to be adopted, are being placed with different types of family. Such changes are due to the Black Civil Rights movements, birth control, legalized abortion, women’s movements, social science research and many more.

Due to the Black Civil Rights movements, liberal whites adopted black and mixed race infants and toddlers (children). This mode was criticized but left no effect on this. The women’s movement legalized abortion and changed the attitudes towards sexual behavior and marriage. Therefore, the number of healthy infants drastically reduced and moreover the unmarried mothers decided to keep their babies without caring the social stigma.

The researchers show that between 1960 and 1978 the number of children in foster care centers doubled to a half millions or more. The children who are kept in such centers are not all sure to be adopted. If they live in foster care till their maturity, they suffer from several problems like pseudo-mental retardation, learning disabilities, mental illness, sexual perversions etc that can root in the children’s personalities and plague their adult lives and be passed on to their children. To establish them, those foster centers need financial support but unfortunately funding for children’s services had always been scarce. So, it became clear that foster caring was both expensive and cruel.

Traugot in her essay says that today’s buzz word is ‘matching’. It is a process of seeking to match a child and a foster family. First the workers evaluate the child’s personality, cultural background, existing relationships with biological or foster family and emotional state. Based on these factors the workers draw up a profile and seek an appropriate family. Traugot presents two examples: An unmarried man or a single strong male might adopt a badly behaved 15 years old boy and a religious family with older siblings adopts a handicapped child suffering from down’s syndrome, hearing disabilities etc.

Now, some agencies work to find the potential adoptive family or parents by distributing their photos and description (or video-tape) to all other agencies. Their names are sent in the regional or state adoption exchange centers and there they try to match with the prospective parents. If they are not still adopted, the description or profiles of waiting children are published in newspaper or broadcasted through media. The media is the final solution for those children who are waiting to be adopted.

Tammy, a 5 and a half years old black girl who is suffering from fetal alcohol syndrome is waiting for the warm and supportive family. The writer hopes that Tammy would find a warm and supportive family because of the changes appeared in the children adoption system in US after 1960.