by Theresa Davis
What does life mean to you? Does life mean having a breath and a pulse or is it enjoying every minute and experiencing everything?
Saving a baby’s life doesn’t end at birth. Being unwanted by a parent is already a negative start to a parent-child relationship, which can deepen further into abuse and neglect. I’m not saying that every unwanted child is abused or neglected or ends up in foster care, but I do want to point out that what happens to these children after birth is extremely important.
As a former foster parent I see what can happen when parenting fails and families shatter. There are too many foster children and not enough foster parents to care for them all. At times children are returned to their abusive families or children are removed from the home unnecessarily.
If they do end up in foster care, it’s important to know that not all foster parents are good. Some foster kids are further abused or treated unfairly. The ones who aren’t abused are at times told to put up with poor treatment because another home just isn’t available.
Foster kids get moved from house to house so often that some kids never unpack. There is no sense of permanency, family, or home. Often they are separated from their siblings because of the low availability of homes. Some older foster children continue to be unwanted because most adoptive parents want babies.
Children removed from their families and move from home to home often have difficulty with forming any kind of relationship with others, have social difficulties or delays, and may develop mental illness or developmental delays. If they don’t go into foster care, a baby born into a hostile environment such as domestic violence, poverty, or a high crime area is at risk for a host of emotional and mental health concerns as well as developmental delays. Is this the life you would choose for them?
I have painted a sad picture of what can happen to an unwanted baby. There are no guarantees as to how any child will grow up. No child asks to be born, but afterward I would bet they would ask to be loved, cared for, and wanted.
Theresa Davis is a former early childhood educator and has worked in childcare centers for more than 15 years. She is also an adoptive mother, living and taking care of her family in the Capital District.