Celebrate adoptive parents as unsung heroes

Oct 2, 2015 at 2:08 p.m. ET
Image: Wundervisuals/Getty Images

Kids grow up learning about firefighters, teachers, nurses and police officers. They are America's heroes — as they should be. Our country wouldn't be what it is without them. I appreciate them. Heck, I'm even one of them. We forget another category of heroes, and it’s time they get the attention and glory they deserve.

These heroes are America's adoptive parents.

These families deserve a spotlight, yet a curtain is drawn over their stage, time and time again. The theater lights shine on others — some of whom do terrible things, some of whom do wonderful things. Either way adoption never seems to get the spotlight.

If you’ve ever been in a room with a family getting ready to adopt, you’ll notice they recharge and energize the people around them. These couples represent humanity and demonstrate it’s all right to take risks if you’re doing something for the greater good. These couples are using a different set of criteria to fulfill their family’s happiness and modeling another way to share love.

Although most couples turn to adoption due to fertility problems, many families adopt after they've had biological children. A force pulls at them like a magnet. It calls to them to create change, to become a person's hero. In this context, the word hero isn't referring to a professional football player, a famous celebrity nor a fictitious childhood heroine from Marvel. Instead, it's the act of removing a child from a malnourished or abusive environment. It’s pulling a child away from poverty, excessive cold or debilitating heat. It's giving a child the one thing humans need most besides air, water and food. It's giving them love.

Blogs and postings from these families educate us about the process and leave us in awe. Their stories force us outside our bubble and remind us that countless children are waiting — and hoping. If you’re unsure of this fact, simply Google "adoption photo listing." Thousands of children are only a click away, hoping you might be the one to remove them from the volatile situation they are currently in.

Nearly 18 million children in the world have lost two parents. One might think a person would get paid to take on one of these children. It doesn’t work that way, and it shouldn't. Resources and safeguards are paramount, so these children are placed in solid, loving homes — not on the black market.

In order to adopt, couples pay upwards of $40,000, if they go through an agency. Public adoption is less expensive, but it comes with risks and longer waits. It's an enormous amount of money, but the cost is worth it to couples who long to bring a child out of poverty or out of an institution and into a loving home. The financial burden is not the only sacrifice made. If biological children are already present, these parents have resolved to spread their love further and their resources wider. They acknowledge their biological children may have less — and do it anyway.

Many parents enter adoption knowing the child they bring home may eventually be identified with a disability or a behavioral problem, if they haven’t been identified already. So, why do these parents do it? It's simple. Their vision of a perfect family is not the clichéd two-story house with a white picket fence, nor is it that all skin colors must match and that their children be perfectly behaved. Instead, their vision of family rests in support, selflessness and love.

If these moms and dads can’t be your heroes, then I don’t know who can. Superman and Batman should be a thing of the past. We have everyday heroes living all around us, showing us that unconditional love doesn't have matching DNA. So, the next time you meet an adoptive parent, thank them for making someone's dreams come true. They are what orphans' dreams look like. That is what makes a true hero.

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