In the final episode of the TLC special Jill & Jessa: Counting On, both of the sisters reveal their future plans to adopt.
We already know the young women’s track record — they come from an extra-large family, as seen in TLC’s now defunct series 19 Kids and Counting. In the last episode of the new docu-series, we see Jessa’s long and painful labor and delivery of her first child Spurgeon Elliot play out, following an interesting pre-labor interview. Even before giving birth to Spurgeon at the tender age of 23 just two months ago, Jessa was ready to go for it again. Jessa and her husband Ben Seewald said they had discussed it before and would love to expand their family through adoption, with as many as 15 sons, according to Jessa. Jessa’s sister Jill and her husband Derick, also new parents, said they too are considering adoption for their family of three:
As sweet and kindhearted as Jessa appears on her show, it’s hard for her to escape the tidal wave of Internet hate that was unleashed on her family earlier this year in the wake of her brother Josh’s molestation scandal. That may be exactly why the public isn’t too happy to hear that the sisters want to adopt — calling them hypocrites, unfit parents and every other name in the book.
When it comes to publicly having their dreams of adoption crushed, Jessa and Jill are in good company. Other prominent reality TV celebrities have recently announced their plans to adopt after having children, to the dismay of their fans. Farrah Abraham, now considered one of the more controversial Teen Mom OGs, ruffled feathers in November when she announced her plan to adopt a sibling for her 6-year-old daughter Sophia.
When you look at the absolutely dismal adoption and foster care statistics, it’s hard to imagine that anyone would have a hard time with a celeb wanting to give a child a home, but they do. And boy, do they. We’ve seen quite a few A-list celebrities adopt children with great fanfare, like Sandra Bullock and Angelina Jolie, but remember, these stunning women are in the public’s good graces. A reality celebrity with more blemishes (and controversy) on their record is much less likely to be supported in the adoption process.
This doesn’t change the fact that more than 400,000 American children are still in foster care, in need of a good home. Based on the latest 2014 statistics from the Adoption and Foster Care Analysis and Reporting System (AFCARS), there was a 4 percent increase in children in foster care from just two years before. A child enters foster care every two minutes in the U.S., and as of Sept. 30, 2014, 107,918 children were eligible and waiting to be adopted. Even more distressing is the fact that 61 percent of these kids are over the age of 5 — well past the “desirable” age bracket most parents are looking for when adopting a baby.
There’s another common misconception about adoption that is putting these celebrities in a negative light. Most people’s criticism against the reality stars is this: They already have children — why do they need to adopt? This attitude is not only wrong, it’s damaging to the kids who are currently in foster care at no fault of their own. Adoption qualifications are based on screening through an adoption agency and have nothing to do with the “Suffering Olympics” — while many couples choose to adopt because they can't have kids, extenuating circumstances like infertility aren't a prerequisite to be "worthy" of adoption. Any parent can adopt because they want to and because they feel passionate about it.
Instead of picking on reality stars who want to adopt, we should be thanking them. No matter what we think of their lifestyles, Duggar, Jenner and Abraham are bringing adoption back into the national conversation, and they are also willing to give a child a home.
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