What is Adoption ?
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What Is Adoption?

What is Adoption?

Adoption establishes a legally recognized, lifelong relationship between a parent and child. The adoptive parent becomes legally and morally responsible for the child’s safety, education, health care, value development, development of life skills, as well as the day-to-day care of that child.

Our society acknowledges that the man and woman who biologically create a life are traditionally the ones responsible for the child.  In the past, most children were raised by biological parents.  This is no longer the case in our country.  Today, many children are being parented by a single parent, a grandparent, a stepparent, foster parent or other parent figure.  Our society created adoption as a means to meet the needs of children whose biological parents are not able to assume these rights and responsibilities. 

Children who are adopted have at least two sets of parents.  For these children to be able to understand who they are, it is important for them to come to know, at some level, each of the parents who have had a part in creating the life they are living.  Children try to make sense of these complex relationships.  The more they know about the people to whom they have had any type of parental tie, the more successful they will be at developing a more complete picture of themselves.

Child and family expert and author, Vera Fahlberg, believes the parenting role in a child’s life can be divided into three parts.  The Biological Parent gives life to a child and determines the child’s physical characteristics.  The Legal Parent is financially responsible for the child and keeps the child safe and secure.  The Parenting Parent sees to the day-to-day care of the child, providing love, discipline, and modeling behavior and moral standards for the child.  It would be much easier for any child to understand life if the same people filled all three roles.  But for adopted children, even infants, multiple people are involved.

Circumstances and the legal system may change who provides two of these three parts of parenting to a particular child.  However, circumstances and the legal system cannot change the biological connection.  The child’s bonds to the biological parents are permanent and important to whom that child is as a person.   Adopting a child means also adopting their biological family, in some respects.  Anyone planning to adopt a child needs to recognize and value this fact.  Recognition of this is the only way that you will be able to understand the identity questions that the child will wrestle with as they grow and mature.  The adoptive parent, who assumes both the role of the legal parent and parenting parent for their adoptive child, can help them reach their highest potential by helping the child deal with such issues.

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