To Welcome a Child


I have always been a strong advocate of adoption. It is a family tradition: my parents adopted my sister; my husband and I adopted our youngest, my sister and her husband adopted their little girl; and my brother-in-law and his wife adopted both their children. There was a time when I thought of starting an adoption agency because it seemed the perfect answer to two deep human yearnings: a child needs parents, parents want a child. What could be simpler? In fact few things can be more complicated.

I have stopped advocating, stopped trying to persuade young couples to adopt before having a homemade baby, stopped trying to convince the world that “Each One Take One” is the solution to the problems of abortion and unwanted children.

I still believe fervently in adoption. I still thank God every day for my sister, my daughter, my nieces, and my nephew. I just know now that it isn’t necessarily the right thing for everyone to do. I believe couples considering adoption should be far better prepared for the journey they are embarking on, and far clearer about the guaranteed burdens the new baby coming into their family will bear.

A child who has been abandoned by its mother, no matter how dire the circumstances, no matter how sensible her decision, suffers a loss nothing can make up for. Life contains sorrows that cannot be assuaged, and it is important to be...

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About the Author

Jo McGowan, a Commonweal columnist, writes from Deradoon, India.