Rare and special mothers Commitment, courage: A tribute to those who have taken in difficult-to-adopt children

Bright Lights

May 10, 1998

NOT ALL CHILDREN will be giving their mothers cards, potted flowers and handmade tokens of love and gratitude today.

Here in Maryland, 644 children legally free for adoption are languishing in the care of the state, waiting for mothers (and fathers) who want them. Another 11,000 sit in foster care, group homes and the homes of relatives; at some point many of them will be adoptable, too.

Finding mothers for them is not easy. These are older kids, many with special needs, some in sibling groups that cannot be broken up. It takes courageous, committed people to raise such children. On this special day for mothers, Maryland's Department of Human Resources is right to pay tribute to those who adopt the kids no one else wants.

Last week, in a symbolic gesture orchestrated by DHR, nine children presented their new mothers with roses as Baltimore Judge Joseph H.H. Kaplan -- an adoptive father who has presided over more than 1,074 adoption proceedings -- issued their adoption decrees.

They are the lucky ones.

Though DHR ranks eighth nationwide in finding homes for adoptive children, each year ends with hundreds still unplaced.

The children who stood in Judge Kaplan's courtroom Wednesday are too young to understand what their new mothers already have gone through on their behalf.

The women have taken seminars. Endured background checks and home inspections. Wrangled with doubts and fears about what a child who has known trouble and intransigency will do to their lives.

Now the real challenge begins.

Not everyone is skilled at raising a difficult-to-adopt child. These are a rare and special breed of parent. The new mothers DHR honored this week, and others like them, deserve more than roses.

Bright Lights spotlights people who make a difference in the quality of life of this area. It appears periodically in this column.

Pub Date: 5/10/98

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