I’m adopted, as was my sister before me. From my understanding, my parents were on a long waiting list before I came along. For years I pictured the demand for babies being much higher than the amount of available ones. When I was ten years old, my family moved from Pensacola to Miami following an opportunity for my dad’s business. In no time at all, his construction business was booming. We moved into a beautiful, rather large house and were able to buy pretty much anything we wanted. We went on frequent vacations and had nice cars.

It was no secret that my dad had always wanted a son. Aside from his fishing and racecar driving interests, he needed an heir to the family name. In my parent’s apparent blissfulness, they decided to adopt another child. This time around, they specified that they wanted a boy. I don’t recall it taking very long at all, and they were matched with a couple. Over the next few months there was lots of shopping and preparing. There was also a home visit or two. The big day came, and to everyone’s surprise, our baby boy was a baby girl. We brought her home and doted over her. She was the most precious, pampered baby I could imagine. We completely adored her. Just a few months later our world turned upside-down.

Some poor decisions had left our dad’s company in a tough spot. He had taken on some partners, and things had gone awry. He sat us down for a family meeting. He was very upset as he explained to us that there was going to be a trial. He said everything would be fine, but that there were some people who were angry and would probably say some pretty nasty things. He told us to pack up and head back to Pensacola for the duration. He said he would be along shortly afterward. We were well on our way to losing the house. The plan was to regroup once we were all together again.

Children are suppose to be our future. It is our job to take care of them and nurture them.

Well, that time never came. Dad was spending most of his nights at the apartment above his office, so my mom had a friend checking on the house periodically. One day she got a phone call from her friend saying there was a woman’s luggage was in the bedroom.

For the next few years my mom, little sister, and I moved around a lot. Mom and Dad went through periods of fighting and then not speaking. Mom got so depressed she didn’t get out of bed most days, let alone hold down a job or take care of us. I was in middle school taking care of a toddler. I took care of her the best I could for as long as I could. After I moved out, the damage continued. My mom didn’t make my sister go to school all the time. She never checked her backpack or made sure her work was done. While I was in college, I picked her up after school and helped her with her homework. It wasn’t enough. She wasn’t made to do chores or take on any responsibilities. She wasn’t taught how to function in society, nor was she given a decent example to follow.

Now my baby sister is all grown up, sort of. She is an adult who barely has a ninth grade education, can’t drive, and is unable to hold down a job. I moved her in with me a couple of times. I tried to help her with some online classes. You can lead a horse to water, but you sure can’t make it drink. No matter how much I tried, she had no desire, no drive to do anything other than lay around.

She never had a chance. There is no way my dad didn’t know that things were coming down. There had to be signs the end was coming. Being a parent is a huge responsibility. You can’t sweep things under the rug and pretend they are OK. Children are suppose to be our future. It is our job to take care of them and nurture them. They are most certainly not tools and should never be used to save a family. Babies don’t save families; they amplify them. A child can make a good family better, stronger. A child can push an unstable family right over the edge. It’s not fair to lay your baggage on an innocent child. All families have periods of stress and drama. Make sure your house is in order before you adopt a child. Adoptive parents are suppose to help the child, not the other way around.