Adoption forms families
Today, I take a new plunge online. I am not simply pro pet adoption. My husband and I adopted a child. Years ago, my family started through foster care, then a year later by adoption of our foster child.
My husband and I became foster care parents when a baby girl came to us in shocking ill-health. Failure to thrive. Losing weight at 4 lbs. 12 oz., she had never made eye contact with anyone. Not her biological mother nor her boyfriend, not the nurses or doctor in the hospital. When I first held the baby, I felt scared. I worried. Could we make a connection?
But as I listen to her mother talk, the tiny infant began staring up at my face. I risked a looked into a pair of stunningly clear blue eyes. That was the beginning of an unbreakable bond.
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The adoption of our daughter made us family.
Nothing was easy in that first year of our infant’s health struggles and adoption. In fact, all our efforts to adopt mushroomed into a messy nightmare. The problems never stopped. The level of legal and emotional difficulty increased each week as she grew. But despite how hopeless it looked for that baby, over a year after taking her home, we were able to finalize our adoption. We became a family.
We adopted each one of our five dogs.
I tell this because I recently read that most people think adopting a pet is a good thing. But only 20% actually adopt a dog, cat or rabbit.
Busting pet adoption myths
I have a few guesses.
1. Adoption is a warm fuzzy word, splashed on highway signs and used by nonprofits to ask for donations. But how many people actually have adopted family members? Is adoption so removed from the 80% who do not adopt that they never think of it as a personal and desirable option?
2. A myth exists about bonding. It looms both over children in foster care and rescue dogs. In the dog world, most breeders, trainers and other experts talk about puppies. They claim this is the best time to train and socialize. This maybe true. But what is not true is that rescue dogs cannot be trained or will not bond with their new families. I know. I’ve adopted, bonded with, plus trained four rescues. And took in two sweet escaped rabbits, who we still miss because their long healthy lives ended.
I know one thing, A mere 20% of American adopters is not enough to save the lives of millions of dogs produced by puppy mills. Every year, those puppies die of inbred illness or killed in shelters for lack of a home.
If you are on the fence about adopting or shopping for a dog, go see a nearby dog rescue, talk to the volunteers and meet the dogs. I think you will be happily surprised how wonderful, friendly and willing these homeless hounds are.
You can learn tons from dog rescuers, adopters and shelter staff/volunteers. I have.
In the end, adoption is all about love and family building.