By Patty Lazarus
An interesting side effect of publishing my memoir, March Into My Heart, is the number of people I have encountered who tell me about their own adoptions. People I have known or worked with for years have connections to adoption that I never knew about. Learning about their experiences is another gift I have received after adopting my own daughter. I recently had the pleasure of being introduced to Amara, a non-profit organization in Seattle, which works to provide “a home for every child.” Amara, which began 92 years ago as a small, neighborhood home for unwed mothers, now supports foster, adoptive, and birth parents to create stable, loving Amara picture homes for vulnerable children. Amara is admired and supported by some of the most generous sponsors/donors and families in Seattle.
The countless stories of children who have been helped by the efforts of Amara are stunning. Children as young as 2 years old have been in as many as four different foster homes in their short lives. Connecting children who have been orphaned, neglected, or abused to people who want to devote their lives to supporting and loving these children, Amara is making lives better for all involved. Couples who have not had the opportunity to have children of their own are becoming parents and discovering the joy that children can bring into a home. I was shown a video of one couple that has adopted seven foster children and are enjoying every minute of the crazy, but loving, household.
Another family working with Amara adopted three siblings from the foster care system who might have been placed in separate homes. Seventy percent of children in the foster care system have a sibling in foster care as well, but only 30% are placed together. That family of five is thriving and the parent shared, “People have said, ‘Wow they’re so blessed to have you,’ and I say ‘You don’t understand, we’re so blessed to have them!’ We are definitely the lucky ones.”
As an adoptive parent of an infant, I often wonder what might have happened to my daughter if her birth mother hadn’t been so responsible during her pregnancy about finding a good home for her. Instead of enjoying school, athletics and learning to play piano at 11 years old, she might have been shuttled between different foster homes and struggled to find stability, not to mention a loving family of her own.
Although my story does not include foster parenting, everyone’s dreams of a family can be fulfilled through unexpected ways. Adoption was never in my life plan as I grew into an adult. No one expects to confront infertility, medical issues or other circumstances that can keep them from biologically becoming a parent. The miracle of adoption, via the foster system or the many available channels of adoption, is a blessing to both grateful parents and the innocent, vulnerable children who all deserve a good home.
Learn more about Amara at amaraparenting.org.
Patty Lazarus is the author of a new book about adoption titled March into My Heart: A Memoir of Mothers, Daughters, and Adoption. She blogs at ChildDrenched.com.