The Children Who Wait -Marsha Traugot | Neb Hseb Notes

The Children Who Wait -Marsha Traugot

Class-XI Notes :The Children Who Wait -Marsha Traugot

The Children Who Wait by Marsha Traugot

The Children Who Wait is an essay by Marsh Traugot. Marsha is a social reformer and she describes the condition of the foster house in the USA. She also suggests reasons for a new trend in adoption in America. Now a wider verity of families can open their house to children who in the past had been labeled unadoptable.

The essay begins with an example of five and a half years old, black, handicapped girl, Tammy. She is suffering from fetal alcohol syndrome. Twenty years ago or until about 1960 the process of adoption was strict. A baby like Tammy was unadoptable and she was treated as waste material. But since the 1970s, she has also a market. She could be adopted. That is why a great departure in the field of adoption was seen in the 70s of the last century.

The field of adoption became very easy because of new technique, various civil rights movement, birth control, changing social values, legalized abortion and changes in views on sexual behaviour and marriage. Black civil right movement encouraged inter-racial adoption. The unwed mothers increased the number of adoptive infants. All these factors were responsible for the drastic change in the field of adoption. Due to lack of baby food, some interested families could not adopt children. As well as that, the black marketing of doctors also created scarcity of adoptable children. The attention inevitably shifted towards the children at foster houses.

Child welfare specialists were very worried about the growing children in foster houses. Earlier research had shown that children once sent to foster care for more than 18 months remain there until they grew up. This long stay led to dreadful results: children used to be the victims of mental and physical perversion. Of course, they could spoil their childhood, and their adult lives could be disturbed as well.

Funding was needed to improve the system but funding for children services had always been scarce because they did not cast their votes. The cost of keeping a child in foster house could run very high.

The conception of ideal adoptive family changed because the traditional family type has almost disappeared. A social worker makes the list of characteristics and looks for a good match. But for this, the social worker must change his attitude. He should believe firmly that even a disturbed or multiple handicapped child is adoptable. The worker should be flexible in his attitude towards a family of different socio-economic group. The specialists have started values clarification workshops for placements. Workers and their supervisors must be trained.

Adoption agencies find a potential family step-by-step. The process of matching is taken very seriously. The adoption agencies keep the list of families living in their periphery. Efforts are made to find a home from among the listed families, but if it fails then the adoption agencies refer the child to the State Adoption Exchange which gives information about the concerned child to other agencies. Monthly meetings and informal meetings are held for matching families. If they cannot find a matching family through any of the means they apply, the child welfare organisation and adoption exchange advertise through media, TV and the newspaper.

For example – Tammy is on search for an adoptive family. Because of the changes in attitudes in different aspects as well as in the field of adoption many children have got the supportive families and writer also hopes that Tammy will also get a warm supportive family life in the near future.

According to Traugot, what changes are transforming the American adoption scene? What factors are responsible for the changes?

Traugot wrote this essay in the 1970s. This decade saw transformation in the adoption of children, especially the possibility of integrating those from black, minority and mixed racial background into a wide variety of homes that became possible because of the disappearance of the traditional middle-class, home-owning, two-parent, one-career families in America.

Until the 70s, only the upper class white childless couples adopted healthy white infants, but they did not adopt handicapped, black or mixed/minority, and older children. However, the late 70s marked a heartening change in the children adoption scene. The factors that contributed primarily for this transformation were the various civil rights movements, birth control, changing social values, harsh economic reality and research in social science.

Who are the children who wait and why do they wait?

The children who wait are children waiting in foster homes to find ideal prospective parents. They are mostly homeless children who come predominantly from black, mixed or minority background. Some of them could be orphans and some others could be living in foster homes because of familial problems, away from their biological parent(s). Whatever their background, these children are waiting for adoptive parents who could give them lot of love, affection, security and support. Traugot’s introduction of Tammy in the first paragraph draws the thesis of the essay, and readers instantly realize the possibility of Tammy’s adoption into a permanent home should a family with a kind heart appear to take her their home. She has been legally freed for adoption, so her profile has been advertised in a newspaper. Tammy is a representative of homeless and parentless children who come from diverse cultural background, have handicaps, have varying temperament and personalities.

Describe the procedure of finding prospective adoptive parents/Why is Tammy advertised in the Boston Globe?

The Children Who Wait by Marsha Traugot discusses the adoption system and problems in child adoption in America in the twentieth century. In this essay there are various stakeholders: the children waiting for adoption, the families to adopt them, the agencies to look after and help find children suitable adoptive family.

The first step is at the adoption agency. An adoption agency in one particular location has a list of families who wish to adopt children. If any one of the families wants to have a child than they could have it, but if it doesn’t materialize, the next step is at the regional or state adoption exchange, where the unadopted child is registered. The exchange distributes the photo and description of the child to all other agencies. Some of these exchanges hold monthly meetings where placement workers discuss children or families, and they also sponsor parties where children, workers and prospective parents meet informally. If the exchange also doesn’t succeed in finding a permanent home for a child, then it along with other child welfare organizations go for aggressive media advertisement where the profiles of the waiting child is either printed in newspapers like the Boston Globe or a video shown on TV. It is hoped that the waiting child can eventually get a caring and loving family.

Describe Tammy and her problems.

Tammy is a five and half-year old child who has the smile of Mona Lisa and the cuteness of a kitten. She is petite (very small) with brown eyes, and has dark, curly hair. Her complexion is light brown. However, behind this outward veneer is a girl who is suffering from fetal alcohol syndrome, and whose intellectual growth could stop at any time. Also, she is a lot older for adoption and not a white child – she is black. She has passed through the procedures set by the adoption agency and the regional or state exchange but has found no compassionate family to take her. That is why her profile has been advertised in the “Sunday Child” section of the Boston Globe for the potential family, who could adopt and give her warmth, love and support.

Comment on the influence of the Black Civil Rights Movement and the Women’s Movement in helping reform the adoption practices in America.

The Black Civil Rights Movement and the Women’s Movement had far-reaching and transformative effect on the adoption practices in America. The first movement helped in making America a more integrated and discrimination-free society. It helped to change the formerly vindictive attitude of the Whites against the Afro-Americans. In the changed American society, the liberal whites gathered the black and mixed-race infants and toddlers into their families. As well as that, the Blacks started to enjoy the riches of justice and decency.

The second movement, i.e. the Women’s Movement, gave women the reproductive rights. There was the easy availability of birth control methods to them. Also, abortion was legalized. There was also a changed attitude toward sexual behaviour and marriage. Women didn’t have to get married to have sex. Even unwed mothers faced less societal stigma: they reared their child and were supported by their family members. Women’s rights advocates pointed out that a mature single woman could care for a child as well as two-parents could. All these changes reduced the birth of unwanted babies, and thereby children who could find a passage to foster homes. Thus, the two movements had a positive impact on adoption.

What is “fetal alcohol syndrome”? What is a “buzz word”?

Fetal alcohol syndrome refers to a condition in new-born babies caused by excessive intake of alcohol by the mother during pregnancy: characterized by various defects including mental retardation.

Buzz word refers to a word or phrase, often sounding authoritative or technical, that is a vogue term in a particular profession, field of study, popular culture, etc. The buzz word in the adoption scene in the 1970s was matching.

What is “matching” and how is it done? Provide examples of matching in the text.

Matching here refers to bringing two objects, ideas, or people together. Matching was a buzz word used in the American adoption practices in the 1970s. The social workers who worked at finding suitable adoptive parents for the homeless and parentless children living in foster homes first assessed the child’s characteristics, which involved getting information about the child’s personality, cultural background, existing relationship with biological or foster family, and emotional state. Based on these factors, the worker would draw up a profile of an appropriate family.

The first example that Traugot cites is of a 15-year old boy who had a bad history of

disrupted placements, did badly in academics and fought a lot. The appropriate family for this boy is a single male family, who could give him the latitude to be free but also circumscribe him when need be. Similarly, an 11-year old boy with Down’s Syndrome, a weak heart and hearing disability could be accepted by a deeply religious, working class family having older children. The child welfare specialists were really very optimistic and hopeful of the children finding permanent homes for these kinds of almost unadoptable children.



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The Children Who Wait -Marsha Traugot
Class-XI Notes :The Children Who Wait -Marsha Traugot
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