The Children Who Wait

Marsha Traugot’s essay “The Children Who Wait” discusses the scene of adoption in the American context. Marsha Traugot begins her essay with the picture of Tammy, which has been published in a magazine with the hope that someone would be ready to adopt her. She is five and a half years old with the face of Mona Lisa. The writer describes her unadaptable child had she been born before 1960. During that period only white healthy children were considered adaptable. Physically deformed children’s were referred to as damaged goods. No one was ready to adopt such children. The children who were black, mixed racial group, handicapped and over five years were not adopted by families. This view, however, started disappearing after the sixties.

People’s attitude towards them gradually became positive. The change in thoughts was brought by various factors. Traugot mentions black civil right movement, legalization of abortion, change in the attitude of the people and change in government’s policy as responsible factors. Black civil rights movement brought a sympathetic attitude towards black people. White people started regarding them as humans and treated accordingly. Another responsible factor was the women’s movement. Because of women’s movement, they got the right to decide on the matter of childbirth in addition to other rights. The lady who had to do an abortion to maintain her status could live with dignity with her child. It has an impact on the reduction of unwanted children. The third factor responsible for the change in attitude was the government’s policy towards adoption. The government used to emphasize on foster care before the seventies. As they became aware of the drawbacks of foster care, they made changes in their policy. Rather than emphasizing on foster care, they tried to find a permanent home for homeless children. Another factor responsible is the role played by social activists. Their campaign brought changes not only in the attitude of the people but also in their behavior. Prior to 1960, the social activists considered white, two-parent, and middle or upper-class childless family as an ideal adoptive family. But now the situation has changed. The social workers give children for adoption to even single or two parents, black or biracial, upper class or working class, childless or families with older siblings. The catchphrase of the social worker is ‘matching’. Activists try to get a proper family for the destitute child. Unlike previous activists, they can’t get a two-parent family. Instead of searching for a two-parent family, they need to evaluate the characteristic of a child and match it with the proper family. Now adoption agencies collect the lists of parents who want to adopt a child. They match qualities of children with the need of parents, let both of them meet and interact. They even hold meetings and discussions about the children and the types of families where they can put them. Now adoption agencies collect the lists of parents who want to adopt a child. They match qualities of children with the need of parents, let both of them meet and interact. If this system does not work, they publish the profile of homeless children in television or newspaper to look for adoptive parents.

Questions for Practice :

  1. Whom does Marsha Traugot refer to as the children who wait?
  2. Why was it difficult for the handicapped and the black children to find a foster family?
    According to Traugot, what changes are transforming the American adoption scene? What factors are responsible for the changes?
  3. What kinds of parents were considered suitable for adopting children? What kind of children were considered ‘Unadoptable’?
  4. How do the adoption agencies find potential parents?
  5. What had happened to the handicapped children in the past?

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