Adoption: the smarter option

Jackie Valley

I tend to be a sucker for anything that meows, barks, purrs or drools, or basically any breathing mammal covered with fur.

So, imagine my reaction when I spotted a tiny, wrinkled face poking its head through a clutched arm of a passerby in the local mall. If you guessed that I smiled widely and exclaimed, “Awww,” you win.

Unfortunately, the smile was not returned by the presumed owner. Instead, the woman appeared to be making a beeline for the pet store.

In an era of princess pooches parading through public in designer handbags Paris Hilton-style, this may not seem entirely uncommon. However, the “take no prisoners” expression pasted across this woman’s face spiked my curiosity more than the average puppy is capable of doing.

Unable to resist temptation, I wandered into the pet store, where an employee confirmed my suspicions: The solemn-looking Chinese Pug puppy staring at me from its cage had just been returned.

After deciding that my cat would not appreciate a new addition to the household, especially of the canine variety, I left the mall with not only less money, but also with a dampened spirit.

At home, even more disturbing news came my way courtesy of the evening news: A toddler found wandering the downtown streets of Dayton was allegedly given away to a homeless woman by its mother.

I thought the puppy incident was bad. But a child? Children do not come with return policies.

Sadly, the practice seems all too common, both at home and abroad.

According to The Associated Press, a 3-year-old left in a “baby drop-off box” – intended to discourage abortions and neglect – sparked outrage among the Japanese in May. A Japanese newspaper called the act “unforgivable,” citing a difference in the degree of trauma between an abandoned infant and a toddler.

Currently, at least 46 states – including Ohio – have “safe haven” laws similar to Japan’s, designed to protect infants from abandonment in unsafe public places. In Ohio, birth parents can leave a baby less than three days old with a medical worker at a hospital or emergency service organization or with an officer at a law enforcement agency.

But, as the Japanese media pointed out, there is a big difference between 3 days old and 3 years old. Children are not as returnable as that horrendous birthday sweater from your great-aunt nor are they under a warranty like the latest iPod. Any abrupt change in living situations will invariably cause trauma for a child.

Even so, safely and legally turning children over to an appropriate guardian will be far less traumatic for the child in the long run, as opposed to abandonment in the streets or neglect in a so-called “home.”

Nine months is often not long enough for birth parents, especially mothers, to choose the option that may be in the child’s best interest: adoption. And those who choose to do so later in their children’s lives should not be viewed as lazy, uncompassionate parents seeking the easy way out. Putting a child up for adoption is an act both laudable and courageous if done in the proper manner, because it results, hopefully, in the ultimate gift a parent can give a child: a secure home and good life.

Maybe the woman returning the puppy had the right idea after all. Unfit parents should take note.

Jackie Valley is a sophomore journalism major and a columnist for the Summer Kent Stater. Contact her at [email protected].