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The Children Who Wait – Summary | The Heritage of Words

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The Children Who Wait

Marsha Traugot


In “The Children Who Wait”, Marsha Traugot suggests reasons for a new trend in adoption. Now a wider variety of families can open their homes to children who in the past would have been labeled unadoptable. In setting forth the causes for this phenomenon, she draws from specific case history. In the past only healthy white infants could be adopted. But now a five and a-half-year old black child suffering from fetal alcohol syndrome has been legally freed for adoption. She is Tammy. Her smile is as mysterious as that of Mona Lisa and she is as attractive as a kitchen. Her social worker is looking for a one or two parent, black or biracial family with older siblings. The family will have to visit Tammy for a long time to ease her change from foster home to permanent home. Since Tammy’s intellectual growth might stop at any time, the family should ignore this aspect. In the past a nonwhite family with older siblings, a single parent family and handicapped children were not talked about when adoptions were concerned.

But now there has been a great change in the field of adoption. There are many factors behind this change: the various civil rights movements, birth control, changing social values, social science research and harsh economic reality. Because of the black civil rights movements, even the black children have been equally respected. Due to birth control, legalized abortion, and changing attitudes towards sexual behavior and marriage, few healthy infants were available for adoption. Fewer unwanted babies were born and even the unwed mothers could keep their babies with them without insult. The modern society would not say anything against such mothers. Healthy babies were not available for adoption. Because of the scarcity of healthy babies, people turned their attention to other children.

The number of other homeless children was increasing. Between 1960 and 1978 the number of children in the foster home reached half a million. The state did not know how many such children were there, whether they could be adopted and how many of them lived with their biological parent. If such children were left in the foster home for more than 18 months, they would remain here until they became mature. When they lied here for long, he would suffer from many problems pseudo mental retardation, learning disabilities, mental illness, criminality and abnormal behavior. There problems would make their lives and even their children’s lives more troublesome. So the foster home would make their live worse instead of making them better.

Because children don’t vote, the politicians don’t invest money to begin any new programs for such children. The child welfare specialists told the politicians that the cost of keeping an average child in foster care was $3,600 and it could be as high $24,000. Then it became clear that the foster home was expensive and cruel, and the system changed. The conception of ideal adoptive family changed because the traditional family has nearly disappeared and the same type of family is not suitable characteristics of the child. Now the social worker writes down the characteristics of the child and the profile of a suitable family and them he tries to match. For example, for a fifteen-year-old boy who is bad at school and who keeps on fighting a strong male, who allows him reasonable freedom and who sets some limits, could be a good parent, defect and a hearing disability, a deeply religious, working class family with older children would be most suitable. If the medical costs weaken the family budget, the state might help such families.

Moreover, the social worker also should change his attitudes. He must accept that even the handicapped child is adoptable and that the single male and the working class family can equally adopt a child. For this specialists have introduced values-classification workshops for social workers and their supervisors. To find the possible adoptive parents, first, the workers look to their lists. Then, they give detailed information about meetings. They also organize parties for children, workers and possible parents to meet informally. If they still can’t make a match, they advertise on TV. They also publish the child’s profiles in newspapers. Now Tammy hopes to get a warm family who would support her permanently.

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