Many of the comments on the photo are people saying they'd be happy to adopt the baby. That shouldn't rub me the wrong way, but it does. I should be happy that there are people out there who'd like to take in a baby in need and give it a good home. But the fact of the matter is that very few - if any - of those people are willing to take the steps necessary to actually adopt that baby. Because first that baby will be put into a foster home, and if and when that baby does become available for adoption, it's those foster parents who will have the first right to adopt him.
So to those of you who offered to adopt that little baby, here are my questions for you:
There's a very good chance this baby was drug and/or alcohol exposed in-utero. Do you still want this baby?
There's a very good chance that this baby will have emotional and behavioral challenges as he grows due to the neglect and possible abuse that he has endured. Do you still want this baby?
There's a very good chance that social services will locate siblings for this baby and after an unknown length of time in your house and under your care, the case worker will move the baby to his siblings' foster home. Do you still want this baby?
There's a very good chance that if the siblings' foster parent isn't willing to accept this baby, the case worker will ask you to take on the baby's sibling(s), which may include a two-year-old with autism and a seven-year-old who acts out sexually. If you aren't willing to accept the siblings, the social worker will probably look for a new foster home to accept the baby and the siblings. Do you still want this baby?
There's a very good chance that if siblings are not located an extended family member will be. After an unknown length of time of parenting and falling in love with this baby (could be days, could be years) the case worker will move the baby to live with his aunt or grandma or second cousin. Do you still want this baby?
There's a very good chance that you'll be expected to meet and be cordial - even friendly and helpful - to the people who abandoned this baby in the first place. You'll take the baby to weekly visits with the parents, where you'll hand baby over to their waiting arms. You'll walk away as baby cries for you so that the parents can have their two-hour court-ordered visitation. Do you still want this baby?
There's a very good chance that after two or three or four years, after you've become the only parent this child knows, that the courts will order for reunification of the family. You'll be required to pack up this baby's belongings and say goodbye - probably forever. Do you still want this baby?
If your answer to all of these questions is a resounding "Yes!" then by all means, get your foster care license! We sure could use some more foster parents like you! Because what's even more tragic than this baby being left alone in an abandoned house is if this baby now sits in a shelter for weeks because an available foster home can't be found. Or if he's put into an ill-equipped foster home where he endures further abuse and neglect.
I know, I know ... you'll argue that you'd accept the baby if you could just adopt him without fostering. But in this country we don't sell babies, and we don't give them away. This baby will some day be an adult, and he deserves to know that everything was done to sort out who his family was and why they couldn't care for him. He deserves to know that everything possible was done to try to rehabilitate his parents and return him to their care.
Your willingness to endure the difficulties of foster parenting will prove your love for this child - your future child. And yes, you do have to prove your love for him. Because no one else has.