Saturday, July 24, 2010

Are there "good" and "bad" reasons to adopt?

That's the issue raised in the comments to this post, (and this one, too) a really interesting and important issue.  How about this list of Wrong Motives to Adopt, from blogger Melissa J.:

Because everybody is doing it (children should not be a fad)

To have someone who will love you back (not every child may want to reciprocate your love and affection-initially anyway)

Your biological clock is ticking (not good motivation for adoption)

You want some company (adopt a dog!)

Because you feel sorry for the child or want to rescue them (feeling any sense of indebtedness is not fair to a child who did not ask to be in the position they are)

You could really use another person to help out around the house (hire a housekeeper!)

A playmate for your other children (baby-sit or do more play-dates)

Because children from ______ are so cute (may be cute, but cute is not a good reason to adopt)

If I can't have a child biologically, I guess I'll settle for adoption (adoption is not second best, it's just a different path-and it's not easy)

A child will bring my spouse and I closer (might be true, but will likely cause more tension and less one-on-one time together; not good for a struggling marriage)

I need someone to pass on the family name (poor reason to adopt)

I'll start the adoption process and hopefully my husband will come around (it takes the full cooperation of both in the relationship to do this otherwise it is likely to cause great tension in the marriage)

Love will cure any problem a child may have and I have a lot love to give (unfortunately no amount of love in this world can help some children; though patience, proper advocacy and empathy can help)

Tired of watching other women have babies (not a good reason to adopt; children who are adopted often have very unique special needs that require a lot of devotion)

Could use some extra income (some special needs adoptions provide subsidy to cover a child's extra care needs; often the subsidy does not meet all the expenses of the child)

You want someone to leave an inheritance to (donate to a worthy charitable organization)

You think you'll gain respect and status of sainthood (this is a purely selfish motive; likely you'll feel more like a servant than anything high and mighty)

I need a reason to get up in the morning (program your coffee maker; with children there are likely to be days when you don't feel like getting up in the morning)

A big tax write off (while this is a bonus, your children will likely cost you more than you'll get back from your taxes)

To make me feel complete (you really ought to feel complete before you adopt)

To have someone to care for you in your old age (children don't always outlive their parents; it's terribly sad to hear such expectations being placed on a child; start saving for your future now)
Do you agree that these are bad reasons to adopt?  I'd guess that we all do.  Are there other "bad" reasons?What are the "good" reasons?


Von said...

Feeling entitlement because I have the money and status and can pay.
Sorry can't help you with any 'good reasons', other than that occasionally even in a perfect world a child may need a new family when they've genuinely become an orphan.

Anonymous said...

I hate to break it to you, but people who have biological children have them for all sorts of "bad" reasons as well.

malinda said...

True, but when people have bio children there isn't a layer of required screening -- social workers, agencies, judges -- to decide whether their motivation is in the best interest of the child. With adoption, we have that screening. Do you think that a person who truthfully told their social worker that they were adopting for the reasons on this list should be approved to adopt?

Anonymous said...

I normally really enjoy reading your blog, but this particular post came across as very judgemental to me.

Bukimom said...

I think a good reason would be seeing a need and wanting to meet that need out of love.

April Dietz said...

Well, it's not that "I" won't feel like a complete person or whatever you are getting at if we don't grow our family through adoption... but there is definitely a sense of incompleteness. If we felt that everything was "complete" in our family, we would have no motivation to adopt. Yes, we do feel our family is incomplete without children. So... that's wrong? What was your reason to adopt?

Sandy said...


Bio children are no part of the discussion because even if their parents had 'bad' reasons the child does not suffer the live long severing of the biological link to their family and trust me that counts a lot more than people think who have that link. That loss does not apply to bio in bio family so has no relevance here.

I agree that the stated reasons are not good reasons to adopt. I believe there are children who do need homes but I have severe reservations about the call to adopt from churches for a couple of reasons.

1. Supply and demand increases greed and corruption in countries that call is focused on, and the the worst of the worst comes out and life long suffering ensues.

2. Better solution is as a group to create a better place to care for 'the orphans AND widows' in their home country and family group. A true missionary cause so to speak.

3. Very few adults will truly be in the might place of mind and educated enough to love and care for the 'ones' who truly have no other options that could be provided referenced in 2.

travelmom and more said...

This post is a little hard to digest. Although I didn't adopt for any of those reasons, I did adopt for parts of some of those reasons. Why we want children is too complex to explain in a bullet point. I also think that what initially draws us to adoption often changes as we go through the paper work, do the research, read the blogs and work with our social workers. By stating that "you shouldn't adopt" if you fit any of these criteria is too simplistic. I agree that you need to feel healthy and happy in yourself and your relationship with your partner before you adopt or have bio children, but wanting to add a child to your family shouldn't require a multiple choice quiz its more complicated than that. I am sorry to read that Von and Sandy don't think there are any good reasons to adopt. Adoption does mean there was pain and intense loss, but to suggest that creating group homes for children who were abandoned on a street corner, like my children were, would be better off in a group home than with a family who loves them intensely is absurd. All anyone needs to do is spend time with one of the 250,000 children in this country in the foster care system who have had parental rights severed or anyone who has lived in group homes to know that adoption is a better solution more often than not. I don't think adoption is the end all be all, and I agree that bringing a child into ones home is not for everyone. Persuading people to adopt can be detrimental for children, no one should be preached to to reach out and save the children because adoption is not about saving. But adoption isn’t all bad either. Do my children suffer loss and pain about their abandonment and will this be part of their life, of course. Everyone suffers loss and pain and some of that loss and pain is as painful or more painful than mine, or yours or my children’s, sadly that is part of life. Hopefully through love, open communication, reading all of your points of view, some serious work with professionals and personal soul searching, my children will grow into good loving - people, I can’t ask for more. Many of us have deep scars in our past; I don’t want to be defined by the pain of my past. I own my experiences and realize they in part shaped who I am, but I am much more than the pain from my past. Hopefully my children will also be able to realize that they are complex individuals with many layers and they will choose what will define them, not me or an unknown person who left them on a street corner.

Sandy said...


Perhaps you only skimmed my post and assumed you saw that I was against all adoptions and thought group homes were the best way.

Perhaps asking for clarification on points I may not have been clear on would have been a wee bit nicer.

Anonymous said...

Malinda -- the "screening" required of adoptive parents is bullshit and rarely requires honest examination or answers by either the interviewer or interviewees. If you can pass the checkmarks on the list, you're in. And I'm not necessarily criticizing that because I think a lot of the criteria used is valid, but it just doesn't give you the whole picture.

Sandy -- being part of a bio family is not the be all and end all of life. It doesn't guarantee you a perfect, happy life. A child whose bio parents produce him/her for the reasons disdained in this post are going to be just as f'ed up as an adopted kid.

Adoptive parents and bio parents are not different species. The only thing that separates adoptive parents from biological parents is circumstances. People are not all that different in their reasons for doing things. People have children for purely selfish reasons all the time, a big one being I want someone who looks/acts like a little me. How emotionally healthy is that?

Steve said...


At least in adoptions from China, the "biological link" to the family is severed long before the adoptive parent comes on the scene. The severance from the family comes when the child is originally abandoned. So that argument likewise has no relevance.

Bukimom said...

Sandy, your idea to care for orphans and widows in their home country and family group is exactly the mission of a wonderful Christian organization called World Orphans. Their website can be found at I wish that more Christians were aware of it.

One thing that I'm beginning to realize is that it isn't just wealthy American Christians who are called to care for orphans. I believe that Christians in every part of the world need to care for the orphans in their midst.

Mei Ling said...

"The severance from the family comes when the child is originally abandoned."

That is correct.

But without the abandonment to start off with, there IS no adoptive family.

If Chinese Mother A was not tied down by, say, a One-Child Policy and "chose" to abandon her girl in the hopes of birthing a boy, that's lack of social privilege.

The girl is then abandoned and subsequently adopted. Without that rule in place, the adoptive family wouldn't have been matched up with that particular child.