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 | Gianna Totani, a parishioner at St. Paul the Apostle Parish, in Joliet, who is going to be a senior in the fall at Joliet Catholic Academy.

Adoption: A Great Blessing

The experience of adopting my little brother has completely transformed my feelings and emotional definition of adoption. Adoption is the most beautiful blessing; it is the combination of the birth mother’s unselfish love for her child, the immense bravery of the adopted family, and the ultimate blessing of a new and incredible journey.

To those who have not adopted or do not know someone that has adopted, adoption is the legal process of taking someone else’s child and raising it as your own. However, the experience of adopting my brother has changed my feelings and emotional definition of adoption. There is so much more: the birth mother’s unselfish love for her child; the immense bravery of the adoptive family; and the ultimate blessing of a new and incredible journey.

Through the birth mother’s decision to give her child life instead of getting an abortion, she demonstrates extraordinary love and desire for the child to have a better life than she could offer. Whether the mother is addicted to drugs or alcohol, is in an abusive relationship, or does not have the means to support the child at the time, despite the statistics saying otherwise, choosing adoption over abortion is always a correct moral choice.

According to a Planned Parenthood annual report from 2016-2017, the organization performed 82 abortions for every one adoption referral. According to the Guttmacher Institute, approximately 862,320 abortions were performed in 2017. However, according to the Adoption Network, only four percent of mothers with an unplanned pregnancy will place a child for adoption.

It is clearly evident that more mothers choose abortion over adoption. Why? The answer lies within the common misconception that abortion is a quick and painless solution to an unplanned pregnancy, and adoption is viewed as “giving up” on the child. Actually, adoption gives the child a chance at life to, ideally, connect with a compassionate, adoptive family who wants nothing more but to give unconditional love to the adopted child.

Families who adopt demonstrate a huge amount of bravery. Now, more so than in the past, adoptive parents are faced with the rising popularity of open adoption. Currently, 60-70 percent of all adoptions in the United States are classified as “open,” according to the Adoption Network.

Open adoption is different for every situation. It can include, but is not limited to, frequent communication, visits, gift giving, and photo exchanges between the adoptive and biological families. Speaking from personal experience, open adoption is by no means easy, and I believe my parents exhibited great bravery when they agreed to it.

My family and I encounter the elements of an open adoption nearly every day, from the sharing of photos and videos to the gifts that show up at our door for birthdays and Christmas. Since adopting William in 2017, we have visited with his biological family three times.

Although contact can be hard and somewhat awkward for the adoptive families, openness is extremely beneficial for the adoptee because it provides them with information about their biological family and aids them in identity formation.

Anyone can adopt, but some characteristics are more common in those who are more likely to adopt. For example, older age is very typical; 81 percent of adoptive mothers are between the ages of 35 to 44, compared to only three percent being between 18 and 29.

This characteristic fits my parents perfectly since they were in their late forties when they adopted my brother. My parents believed that they had missed their chance to adopt, and their age would scare away young, expectant mothers.

Additionally, a woman with infertility issues is 10 times more likely to adopt than a woman who has no issues having a child on her own. To those who cannot have children on their own, adoption is the greatest blessing. Adoption gives people who desperately want to be parents the opportunity to raise and love a child as their own.

As Broadway star Kristin Chenoweth said in a 2015 blog posting about her own adoption, “Adoption is a full-circle blessing.” Through the birth mother’s loving act of life and the adoptive parents’ patience, bravery, and unconditional love, the adoptee becomes seriously blessed with a forever home and a forever family.

Adoption truly is the greatest blessing. Ever since I was a little girl, it was my desperate wish to have a sibling. The dream finally came true when I was 13 years old. There was a reason why I had to wait so long for a sibling. God had a plan all along for us, but my baby brother just wasn’t born yet. Having faith in God and believing it would happen one day kept my family going. Adoption has brought me closer to God because I will be forever grateful He chose me to be the big sister to my lifelong best friend, my buddy, the best and cutest little brother in the world.