When the word adoption is used in relation to families, it means a non-biological parent is becoming a legal parent to a child. The adopting parents will take care of the child and have every legal right to the child. They choose how and where the child is brought up. There are many different ways to create a family through adoption.

One can take a child who is a relative and adopt him or her to raise as their own. Some people choose to go through a private, closed adoption. The person or couple will adopt a baby from someone they do not know that has chosen not to parent. In such cases, both parties’ identities remain hidden from each other; there is no contact between them. Many choose to have an open adoption. Identities are shared between parties, and varying degrees of contact are agreed on. Some open adoptions consist of correspondence by mail only, while others have joint holiday parties and visits.

An increasing number of people are choosing to adopt from foster care. In those cases, once parental rights have been severed, children are available for adoption. Some kids have to go through several temporary placements before finding their forever home.

Adoption means different things to different people. For some people it means separation. It represents the displacement of the child from their biological family. For others it means bringing their family together. Adoption can make a family for someone who might not be able to have children otherwise. As with all things in life, adoption may not always be a good experience for everyone. I know some adoptees who are unhappy about being adopted. They blame the problems in their life on that event. As an adoptee myself, I see things differently. My adoption allowed me to grow up in a loving family, and then gain an additional family as an adult. I was able to reunite with my birth family, and they are wonderful people. Adoption is a lot of things, but for most people, adoption means hope.

Ashley Foster is a freelance writer. She is a wife and a mother of two, currently residing in Florida. She loves taking trips to the beach with her husband and sons. As an infant, she was placed with a couple in a closed adoption. Ashley was raised with two sisters who were also adopted. In 2016, she was reunited with her biological family. She advocates for adoptees’ rights and DNA testing for those who are searching for family. Above all, she is thankful that she was given life.