Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Born in the U.S.A.

Congratulations to Sandra Bullock re her new baby boy. According to news reports, Louis Bullock was born in New Orleans and adopted by Ms. Bullock in January. With all the attention on foreign adoptions these days it’s marvelous to see a celebrity respond to a child in our own backyard.

My husband and I had a two-year-old blond, blue-eyed daughter when we adopted a bi-racial boy and girl in the early 70s. People stared at us and asked personal questions that were intrusive and rude, “Where were they born? Do you know anything about their background?”

We politely responded that Elizabeth and John were born in Los Angeles and that’s all we shared with strangers. We had limited information about their biological parents as records were sealed in those days and L.A. County Department of Children’s Services only provided brief knowledge – both were healthy, alert and ready to be placed in a loving home.

In the late 70s fewer couples applied to adopt children born in the U.S. The “crack” pandemic hit urban neighborhoods and women under the horrific influence of drugs gave birth to babies with serious health issues ranging from mental retardation, physical defects and severe emotional disorders. Babies placed in foster care waiting for adoption languished for years in institutions and group homes as families looked to Korea and other Asian outposts for infants. Single women and gay couples were denied the right to adopt a child in this country so they turned to agencies in China where baby girls were readily available.

Today, there are more than 500,000 children growing up in foster care in this country. Substance abuse and HIV among pregnant women has substantially declined. Single men and women and gay couples can adopt infants and older children from public and private agencies but they continue to reach out to Asia, Latin America, Africa and Eastern Europe. Families adopting Russian born children are not told the truth about the mother’s prenatal alcohol abuse. One adoptive mother went so far as to return a child with severe psychological problems to Russia without adult supervision on the long flight home.

Madonna, Angelina and Brad, Meg Ryan and others have the resources to provide excellent health care, a superb education and a nurturing environment for their adopted children but they should look closer to home for a child in our welfare system eager to be part of a family.

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