Who takes care of you, if you're a child without a family? We often think SOMEONE is out there, a friend, a distant relative, a grandparent. But more often than not, there's simply no one. These children are the Forgotten. Adoption has a false perception of being all about babies. But it's not. What if you're a six-year old child with no family? Ten? Thirteen? How about eighteen? How about twenty? The younger children have a shot at finding a "forever" family; people are usually more willing to adopt toddlers, even younger elementary school-aged children. But the odds go down from there leaving too many family-less tweens and teens to grow up and face the world...alone.
Now imagine having no family--no one--and growing up in foster or group homes. You're 17, 18, 19, 20. You've grown up without the kind of permanency we enjoy when born into a loving family. Some of us are born into families with neglectful or abusive parents, but even then, we have a sense of belonging, a sense of permanency. Maybe we have a grandmother or aunt or uncle who serves as a positive role model. Even if your parents were totally ineffective, you had SOMEBODY who loved you, someone who cared about you--and did so without limits. Not so for the Forgotten.
Being a young adult in 2010 is tough. Being anybody in 2010 is tough. Imagine having no safety net. None at all. You can't count on anyone because there's no one standing behind you. Even President Obama has a support staff! And just because a person is 17, 18, 19, or 20, doesn't mean they don't deserve a family. If you're familiar with the age group at all, you know that's EXACTLY when children need families the most. And yes, even a 20-year old needs protection, love, safety, and permanency. Didn't you? Heck, I consider that first decade of adulthood, 20-30, a pivotal time in a person's life. Launching successfully takes time, money, energy, effort, and most importantly, people who believe in you. A parent's job doesn't end at 18...it begins.
Where would you be if you didn't have your parents? If you didn't have family? Would you have completed college? Would you have been able to navigate successfully the MANY dips and valleys you encountered from about 18-28? And what about after that? You still need family--no matter how old you are. You have children and want them to have grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins. You get married and have no one to help you celebrate outside of some friends and your new in-laws. And what if, along the road, you find yourself or your spouse facing illness? Who will be there to help you? Where can you always go and receive acceptance...even if it's sometimes reluctant? Home. That is, if you had a family.
As we approach the holiday season--Thanksgiving, Chanukah, Christmas, Kwanza, New Years--don't just remember the people you love, remember the Forgotten. They need you more than anyone else on your gift list. We all can't adopt a Forgotten child. But we CAN all "adopt" a Forgotten child's gift list for the holidays.
You're saying to yourself right about now, "Well, all that sounds great but how do I do it?" Simple: Contact your local Children Awaiting Parents or CAP organization at www.capbook.org
CAP is a non-profit that helps match children of all ages with "forever" families. Children like the Forgotten. Some have developmental disabilities, others are afflicted with emotional scarring from a lifetime of loss. What would it cost you to adopt a Forgotten child's gift list this holiday season? Less than $100? You spend that and more on holiday food and decor. Be honest. Pare down the trimmings this season and make a Forgotten child's year by remembering them. Even if it's only one time, you can't imagine the joy you'll bring to that child.
You really want peace on earth? Start small. Start with the Forgotten. You may find that even one grain of rice can grow to feed a nation.