An 11-year-old's perspective on family
Have you ever wondered what it would feel like to be adopted?
Have you ever stopped to think about what really makes a family?
I would like to tell you what it really feels like to be adopted, and explain a little more about how families are made in different ways.
Adoption is when a birth family is unable to care for a baby or child. The birth family, more commonly the birth mother, offers her baby for adoption. Couples that are unable to have their own natural children will apply to an agency to adopt a baby. They go through many difficult interviews and assessments before they are finally accepted as possible adopted parents. They must then wait for a baby to become available.
Once the birth mother has decided to adopt out her child she has what is called a “cooling off” period during which she can change her mind if she wants. Usually the agency which is looking after the adoption process will give the birth mother a choice of three or four couples that are compatible with the upbringing she wants for her child. The birth mother can decide if she wants to maintain contact with her child after the adoption process has been completed. She may also decide she wants the baby to go to a family with a certain occupation or religion for example.
These days babies come in to families in many different ways and there is no such thing as a “normal” family any more. Babies can be born naturally or they can be born as a result of assistance from doctors like IVF. Families can have natural, half, step or adopted children. And every family is different.
In my family I have a sole parent mother, and my sister and I are both adopted. My mother is English by birth, I am half Chinese and half Thai, but my birth parents live in Indonesia. My sister is half Irish and half Fijian. But we were both born in Australia, so we are all Australian.
We find when we are out as a family we get stared at sometimes. I get asked a lot of questions like: Do I miss my birth mother? And what is China like?
I have only met my birth mother once - when I was a tiny baby. And I have never been to China.
People say they feel sorry for me and are glad they weren’t adopted. But to me this shows a lack of understanding of how families work. My family is not related by blood but we are very close and love each other very much. Just as much as we would if my mother had given birth to us.
My mother says she doesn’t look at us and see her adopted daughters. She says she looks at us and sees her family.
So remember some of the best families are not related by blood.
This is an edited transcript of a speech written by Libby White for a public speaking competition at Toowoomba East State School. Libby is just completing grade 6 and is 11-years-old. She is the daughter of editor Susan Prior, and her speech was the inspiration for this feature.
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