By Dylan Deprey
Simone Biles may have never stepped foot on a balance beam, if her grandparents never adopted her.
Louis Armstrong may have never gotten his hand on a trumpet if his grandmother, uncle and foster family never took him in after his parents abandoned him.
Daunte Culpepper may have never thrown a touchdown pass as a professional quarterback, if a correctional worker where his mother was serving time for armed robbery never adopted him at 1 day old.
Malcolm X, Ice T, Jesse Jackson, Nelson Mandela, Keyshia Cole, George Washington Carver, Jamie Foxx, the list goes on and on. Whether it was family, foster family or a stranger, every one of these people had someone lovingly step in to be their parent.
November is Adoption Awareness month, and according to the 2010 Census a little over 2 million total adoptees live in the United States.
The first adoption laws in the world originated in the United States back in the 1850’s. Massachusetts passed the first “modern” adoption law that made adoption a social and legal process that focused on the child’s wellbeing, instead of being solely based on the adult’s interests, according to the Children’s Bureau.
A couple years later in 1854 until 1929, an estimated 250,00 orphaned, homeless and abandoned children were transported from New York across the country and to Canada during the welfare program known as The Orphan Train Movement.
Subtract the image of Annie and her orphan buddies scrubbing floors with toothbrushes in a 1930s orphanage, and today there are actually five types of adoption: Domestic, International, Stepparent, Relative and adopting from the Foster Care System, according to WI Department of Children and Families.
“Birth mothers who chose life and are unable to parent have difficult decisions to makes,” said Sue Hubbell branch director at the Bethany in Waukesha.
Hubbell has worked as director and manager in Child Welfare for the past 22 years. Bethany in Waukesha is part of the largest global nonprofit adoption, foster care and pregnancy organization Bethany Christian Services.
Hubbell said that domestic adoption has grown far from babies being stripped from mothers at birth and given to adoptive family back in the 40s. The birth mother, and sometimes father, creates a thorough adoption plan.
“In over the past couple of years they (birth parents) have wanted some form of contact with their child,” Hubbell said.
Birth parents can request for letters, pictures or even meetings once or twice a year with the child and the adoptive family. Hubbell said that positive support from the community, family and friends is a must for birth parents, adopting parents and the adoptee.
“When you think about adoption in general, it is a loss for everyone,” Hubbell said. “Adoptive families may have infertility issues, birth parents are giving up their child and the adoptee later on realizes that ‘these aren’t my real parents, what is my story?’”
Bethany Christian Services, is working to raise awareness for the 140 million children worldwide, and 100,000 in the U.S. wishing for a loving family and a place to call home.
“We are here as a support system to anyone who might be looking for help as they navigate their own adoption story. We want people to know that they are not alone and we welcome everyone to join us as we advocate for all who have been touched by adoption,” said Bill Blacquiere, Bethany Christian Services President and CEO.
Hubbell said that even though Wisconsin has one of the better foster care systems, there are still many children and young adults pushed from home to home.
“The foster care system does a horrible job raising children, so that is why we move towards adoption as quickly as possible with relatives or a permanent family,” Hubbell said.
According to the WI Department of Children and Families, 70 percent of children are reconnected with families or adopted. Of the 30 percent left in foster care, 80 percent of those children live with relatives or have been in the same foster home. The other 20 percent are moved from home to home, these could be children whose parents died in a car accident, or have witnessed horrors of drug addiction.
“So many of our kiddos have been through a lot and the fact of the matter is they’ve been in three, four, maybe 10 different foster homes,” Hubbell said. “Maybe there has been neglect or abuse along the way, and they still don’t have permanence.”
Hubbell added that adoptive services keep the children’s priorities at the top of the list when it comes to choosing a family.
“We are really about finding the best family for kids, not kids for families,” Hubbell said.
For more information on adoption and services visit https://www.bethany.org/waukesha.