I can't help but be thrilled for Sandra Bullock. She waited four years for little Louis to come into her home, and when I see pictures of her holding him, her eyes transfixed on his cherubic face, I know she feels that it was worth every moment. Her life and that of Louis have been changed forever.
These days we see actresses going to other countries to adopt children and that's fine. But here in the U.S. thousands of children wait for parents. And Sandra Bullock was willing to wait too. Children wait in every state to escape the roller coaster that is foster care. They wish for a loving family and a place to call home. And Bullock provided that.
The thing is that many of us can too if we put aside some concerns that are often more myth than reality. These blind us to the realities of adoption. "I just can't take on the genetic differences between myself and a child," some people think. But genetics tell just so much about the personality characteristics children will develop. As any parent of two or more children will attest, they're all different. Each one is unique. They're as likely to turn out like an aunt, uncle, a distant cousin or no one the family has ever known. But they'll turn out somewhat like you, too, because that's who'll be there for them as they grow up.
Other people hesitate to adopt because they worry that someday a birth parent will enter their child's life and replace them. Such things may appear to happen on daytime TV shows willing to do anything for ratings, but the reality is that once you love a child and he or she loves you, the bond is for life. It may hurt when your child is old enough to seek out his birth parent(s), but if you don't have this challenge as a parent, you're sure to face another one equally as difficult.
Raising a biological child is a mix of ups and downs, so why should we expect adoption to be any different? There are no promises with the arrival of any child into your heart and home. You worry and work at schoolwork, bringing them to activities, and tending to their concerns and hopes. That's what bringing up a child is about. Adopting a child means going in with your eyes open. Some children need extra care and help. It's not a walk in the park, but it's very, very special. And most parents can deal with what comes their way because the bond between them and their child is so intense.
Photos of Sandra Bullock with little Louis can do more than just elicit "Aahs." They can remind us, as photos of children waiting, that regardless of whether a child comes from your womb, the moment when he or she looks to you for love, security, joy and opportunity is like no other.
If more adults, whether single, married or partnered, were to open their hearts and homes to a child, just think of what a different and greater country this would be.
We would no longer sit back indifferently as children -- in their hundreds of thousands -- wait for years in a foster care system that is woefully inadequate in many states as I learned studying their plight.
We would cease to be a nation that allows its most vulnerable young citizens -in their tens of thousands each year-- to age out of the foster system at 18 and wander unprepared into a life with little or no hope of a productive future.
No, it isn't easy to raise a child no matter how he or she arrives in your home. Worries abound right from the start. But as Sandra Bullock reminds us for these few days - this window of time that will close shortly - if you have the room in your heart and home you may bring and receive remarkable joy as you embark on a journey like no other.
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