This post is quite personal. And while writing this down, I feel quite vulnerable. I don’t know why that is so, since I’ve shared my plans for the future a few times before already. In this letter to my future self I wrote down that I want to be a foster parent, so today’s post is not new. However, I have learned a lot about especially adoption the past years and so I want to share what I know, because I feel like adoption can be harmful if it’s not done right. Here’s what I know about adopting/fostering children. And alongside I will share my personal plans with that.
wanting or not wanting kids
Until last year, I never really thought about having children. I did not even know if it was something for me. Having children is something I feel like I should really think about, a lot. Today, in 2022, I feel like having children is still expected from people. The option of not having children, because it does not align with your personal goals or you just don’t feel like it, is never really discussed.
For me personally, I think motherhood may be a good match. I like caring for others, literally and figuratively speaking. But if you like caring for children, you don’t have to have kids of your own per se. That’s what I’m discussing today. Because there’s also the option to be a foster parent or to adopt a child.
Having Children of My own
A few years ago, I did not see the point of having children of my own. However, my partner does. And right now, I do too. The whole experience of being pregnant and raising a child that’s entirely a mini-me, made by the both of us, sounds beautiful. I think I’m willing to have one child of my own, just one. But that might change over the years, maybe I would like to have more children once I have one child. But the opposite is true too. Maybe I am not able to carry a child, who knows. In the end, we’ll just have to wait and see. One thing is reasonably sure right now, my partner and I do want to become parents one day.
Why Does It has to be mine?
The reason I’m saying I would like just one child of my own is because that’s enough to know what it’s like. Carrying a child, raising a human, you then know what that’s like. This might sound foolish since I don’t have any children right now. But once you’ve had that full experience and sort of know what you’re doing, I think that if you then want more children, you might as well adopt or foster children.
I don’t see the point of only having children of our own, while there are so many children already on this planet today in need for help. Why create another human and leave those children in a bad situation? As I said, I can understand why you would have the first child of your own, but after that I myself am very open to adoption and fostering. I think it’s better to give children in need a lovely home, instead of ignoring those problems and making a new human.
Sustainability is not the issue
When people find out I lead an eco-positive lifestyle, they often assume that I don’t want any children of my own. They say having children is unsustainable. I don’t agree with that point of view. I’ve written it before. I don’t think overpopulation is the problem. Our way of life is the problem. If you raise children in a responsible way, meaning, living within the earth’s capacity together and teaching them to take responsibility, I think that’s totally okay. Honestly, I don’t understand why people who want of themselves children very badly, choose to not have them for sustainability reasons. I think they’re fighting the wrong problem.
As I said, sustainability is not the reason for me to not have more than one child of my own. The main reason for me is the children which are already on this planet, in need of a loving family. Children which have lost their parents and can’t live with their remaining family for example. Children of which their parents or any other family member can’t take care of them. Generally speaking, children in need. When these children grow up with you, I don’t think there’s not a big difference compared with having your own children. When we have the ability to help, why shouldn’t we do so?
Let’s start discussing the first out of the two options: adoption. I don’t think I will adopt a child in my lifetime. Huh? Did I not just argue in favor of adoption? Yes, I did, together with fostering. But here’s why I don’t think I’ll ever adopt. It’s always in the best interest of the child to be adopted by someone close. That may be someone in the family, but if the entire family cannot adopt a child, it’s still better to keep the child in the region/country.
best for the Child
Why? Because the child looks like those people and feels at home there. Right now, a lot of white people in the Netherlands adopt children from all over the planet. They adopt children who were born in Asia, America, Africa etc. And even though their intentions are good, I’m very sure of that, it’s not best for the child. I think intercultural adoption is wrong. If you’re an Asian child for example, growing up in a white family in the Netherland, you grow up slowly realizing that you’re different. I’ve heard quite a bit of stories from adopted people who just don’t feel at home in a different culture. Want to know more about this? Listen to this podcast here.
Then there’s one more risk. Over the years, more and more scandals have been brought to the light, about different aspect of the adoption proces. Sometimes children have literally been stolen from their birth parents, because adoption agencies make money off of these children. The adopting parents think they’re doing something safe, but in reality they’re stealing a child from their parents. I won’t go into all scandals there have been in adopting processes, but I think it’s wrong that companies make money from adopting processes. I think it’s something that the government (or non-profit agencies) should arrange, within one country. Not across countries.
Situation in the Netherlands
For that reason, for the interest of the child, I would personally only adopt children from the Netherlands or maybe Belgium. That’s because for me, the distance also plays a role. Let’s say the child wants to built a bond with the birthparents or close family, they can only do so when these people live reasonably close by.
Along with the distance, there’s also the costs of traveling. If you’re adopted from a country far away, it’s expensive to go back and not everyone can afford to do so. And lastly, there’s the language. If adoptees ever want to re-connect with their birth parents, there’s a language barrier if we adopt from another countries too. That’s why I think intercultural adoption is not the best for a child. It’s best when the child is adopted within a close circle and if that’s not possible then at least within the same country.
Within the Netherlands, about 15 children are put up for adoption each year. These children are usually adopted by people close by, which is the best solution. That’s why I think I’ll never adopt a child, simply because there are close to no children in need for it. And even then, I think it’s better if a couple who are having difficulties to have children of their own have the chance to adopt those children in need, instead of me.
If you are a Dutch person, I think the only real solution to do something about the terrible situation of some children in other countries than the Netherlands is to donate money. We have the resources to do so. Instead of buying another pair of shoes worth 500 euros, you can support a lot of children and give them a better future. In my opinion the most common reason why people in poor countries give up their child is poverty. And I think the solution to poverty is money. Really simple. That’s why I also donate directly to people in need. We can offer these children a good future, with their own parents. In the end I think that’s the best solution.
However, fostering is something I do see myself doing. Fostering is taking care of children who are in need of a temporary home. The intention is always to get the child back to the birth parents. The reason why children need to be fostered are very different per situation. Their parents may be in prison, they may be in rehab, they may have a difficult financial situation. The reasons are endless. But one thing is certain: the need for foster parents in the Netherlands is huge.
In 2021, 22.748 children lived with foster parents. There were also 873 children still waiting for a foster family. These numbers have been growing the past 20 years, there were only 8.000 children living with foster parents in 2001. While at the same time, the number of foster parents is decreasing (that’s something for another time, but the system in the Netherlands for fostering is broken). 47% of these children, are placed with close family or other people close by, as this is best. However, 53% cannot be placed with family or relatives. It is estimated that we need thousands of fostering families more.
a good system
I think a good fostering/adopting system like I described above is great, when it’s necessary. Of course it would be better if we did not need foster or adoption parents at all, but we do. I think it’s a good solution because it mimics family life, where orphanages or such do not, at all. Research had also shown that orphanages are very harmful for children. That’s why they don’t exist in The Netherlands.
Unfortunately, these orphanages do exist in other countries. And that is wrong. Orphanages are never a solution and they usually only exist for the owners, to make money. It’s a popular destination for tourists, to make them feel good when they donate to the orphanage. But the children are constantly exposed to new people and then left again. This is extremely harmful for these children. So I urge you, please, never visit an orphanage when on holiday. If you want to make a change, donate money to poor people structurally. And choose a charity which sends your money directly to people in need, for example via GiveDirectly.
So, that’s it for today. My conclusion once more: adoption and fostering should only be done within one country, when possible in a circle close to the birth parents. I don’t think I’ll ever adopt a child in the Netherlands, but I hope to be a foster parent one day. And to improve the situation of children outside The Netherlands, I donate to poorer people to help them escape poverty, so they don’t have to give up children.
Have you thought of adopting and fostering children?