Archive for October 26, 2008

Single Parent Adoption (An Article from SP Magazine’s Issue 1 Volume 1)

Single Parent Adoption

Lucy Aponte

 

In 1977, as a single mother of three I ventured to adopt, unaware of the prejudices I faced as a single Latina woman. I was excited as I entered the NY agency for my interview. Introducing herself the worker led me towards the elevator. I wondered if my child was amongst the little children we passed in the halls and in the elevator. Little did I know, the worker had already decided I would not qualify to adopt.

So, after confidently answering the questions posed to me, I was told there were no children. The children I had seen, she claimed when I asked her, were not for adoption. I could not believe that in this huge building, there was not one child that needed a mother’s love. In fact thousands of children lived isolated, hidden deep within the bellies of such institutions; alone, unloved and parentless.

Confused and feeling inadequate, I left with tears in my eyes.  

 

It would be another year before I’d have the courage to try again. But, this time research led me to the New York Council on Adoptable Children.  At COAC I learned that my experience with the previous agency was commonplace for single parents wanting to adopt. I was relieved to learn from the counselor that there was nothing wrong with me.  They helped me through the process of looking and deciding what kind of child I could parent. Although I originally wanted a two year old, I was willing to take an older child. All children yearn for love and family and I had that to give.

 

Ten-year-old “Michael,” ironically lived under the supervision of the agency that had rejected my application. He had a severe developmental disability and did not speak. Experience with baby sitting my Downs Syndrome cousin gave me the confidence to meet such a challenge. Visits began, first at the institution and then weekends at home. When I’d visit Michael, other children grabbed me kissing my hand, hoping I would take them home. Michael would possessively lead me towards the door so we could leave. I detested going to that institution and after three months I insisted I was ready to take him home. The institution was reluctant and warned I’d be back with him within two weeks.

 

Michael came home on three psychotropic drugs to manage behavior. Most of his misbehavior was due to lack of basic social skills, because of low expectations by previous care-takers. We taught him to use the toilet, tie his shoe laces, eat with a spoon and fork and we all learned sign language, so he could communicate. With patience, consistency and training Michael acquired social skills that allowed him to integrate within the family and freed him from drug-induced immobilization and isolation.  

Weeks of shampooing uncovered Michael’s natural blond hair beneath the brown grime. For the first time, he had clothes that fit and that he didn’t have to share. Rather than gauze to hold his pants and to lace his shoes, he wore a belt and tied real laces. I wonder today, if the hospital is still waiting for his return.

 

 

Three years after Michael, we heard about 8 month old Daniel, a boarder baby. I knew I could care for a sick baby, I was a nurse. But, learning he was terminally ill stopped me dead in my tracks. I did not want a baby to die in my home. He’d go to an institution, as he was due for discharge. His doctors and my children convinced me he’d be better with us. So, after two months of visits Daniel came home. We would give him loads of love in his final month and lots of holding.

 

Daniel would never sit, stand, nor walk, predicted doctors. But, my fourteen year old daughter Kim, decided he would do so before he died. So, every day Kim exercised Daniel, strengthening his back, neck and abdominal muscles. She’d stand him on her feet to practice walking through the apartment. One month later, Daniel walked between Kim and me into the clinic, holding our hands. The doctors were excited and took him up to the intensive care unit for his nurses to see how he’d grown. They were thrilled to see him and passed him around. These visits became a must at each appointment. Daniel had countless emergency situations, hospitalizations and three near death experiences over the next 12 years. Yes, he survived that first month and today, he is a twenty seven year old young man, doing well. He came to be known as “The Miracle Baby” of Jacobi Hospital.

Single parent adoption is more common today but too many children are still waiting for their permanent family.

Contact COAC @ 212-475-0222 for adoption information.

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