Nobody really likes change, instability, flux or uncertainty, at least that is not the norm. We are most comfortable with consistency, stability and a high degree of Permanence. For instance, how many of you would be more comfortable “couch surfing” compared to having your own home? Isn’t it nice to know you have a steady job with a steady income, compared to scraping by every day to survive? And what about tumultuous relationships? Well, their impact is obvious!
November is National Adoption Awareness Month, a month dedicated to acknowledging the gift of families and individuals who adopt children and youth who do not have “permanent” families. Adoption is truly a beautiful thing; a wonderful gift to the child or youth being adopted and the adoptive family. The transition from being “unwanted” or without a permanent family, to being sought after and desired, and blessed with permanency, is priceless. It is absolutely a cause for much celebration and represents a pinnacle of human kindness and love.
What makes Adoption so important is not just seeing a child or youth obtain a sense of belonging, safety and wellbeing; it is a reflection of a healthy, strong culture that understands the value of taking care of its own. It is an acknowledgment of our responsibility to care for the less fortunate, whose world is unstable, unfriendly, and perilous! As awesome as it is, Adoption is only one component of Permanency. Let us dig a little deeper into it.
I don’t know about you, but there are times when I muse over some of our modern euphemisms like “food insecurity” for people in poverty, “housing insecurity” for homelessness, or “economic insecurity” for people who are not given livable wages. Yet, the more I think about it, the more I think the word “insecurity” is the most accurate. Insecurity denotes a significant lack of Permanency and stability. It is a very stark description of a serious social problem, the real feelings and emotions of people mired in unfortunate circumstances.
Research has definitively shown that all of these “insecurities” have a substantial negative impact on families. Child abuse and neglect are very often attributed to family instability resulting from a lack of “Permanency.” The lack of food, housing, a sustainable income, or a support network takes a toll on everyone, but especially children. Child victimization, poor performance in school, and an elevated risk of domestic violence and substance abuse are just a few consequences these children are more susceptible to. And gang involvement, destructive behaviors and criminal conduct are always lurking in the shadows.
How ironic it is that we have a whole social process for finding “Permanency” for children and youth who are the victims of a lack of Permanency and stability! Why don’t we have a better system of ensuring Permanency on a broader level, preventing family disruption and the need for such services like adoption? The Adverse Childhood Experience (ACE) research should be a gut punch indictment of our culture’s failure to set Permanency and stability as a high priority!
Maybe it is human nature, maybe it’s ignorance, or maybe it is just greed and narcissism which prevents us from creating a society focused on the Safety, Wellbeing and Permanency for all. I, for one, am repulsed by the whole notion and mindset of “rugged individualism,” or the “self-made” person. This idea is contrary to human nature. We are social beings who need to be interdependent, caring and engaged for maximin physical, mental, and social health and survival. The pursuit of Permanency must be a social-cultural value, not a selfish, individual pursuit.
Permanency is “the property of being able to exist for an indefinite duration.” If you have a Permanent family, or Permanent housing, or Permanent employment, the implication is that you will be in that state or condition for an indefinite duration. Permanency mitigates fear, and promotes wellbeing and peace of mind. In a sense, I believe Permanency and Wellbeing are synonymous.
I believe our goal in society should be for everyone to achieve “Permanency-Wellbeing” in five life domains.
One, Physical Permanency-Wellbeing: having food, shelter, safety, and access to health care; everything one needs to not only live each and every day, but flourish.
Two, Emotional Permanency-Wellbeing: having loving, safe, secure, nurturing familial and personal relationships which promote self-worth, a person’s sense of belonging and identity, and helps build strong interpersonal relationships.
Three, Social Permanency-Wellbeing: where one is engaged in a broader network of individuals, possessing the skills and ability to interact, socialize, contribute to, and benefit from meaningful relationships with others.
Four, Productivity Permanency-Wellbeing: the ability to pursue your interests, values, and purpose in order to gain meaning, happiness and enrichment professionally. It is the opportunity to express one’s skill, creativity and individualism through sustainable, meaningful work and endeavors.
And five, Societal Permanency-Wellbeing: the ability to actively participate in and contribute to a thriving, healthy community, culture and environment. Having a sense of belonging and contributing to the greater good of everyone, free from discrimination and social rejection.
I love working in an industry that creates Permanency for children and youth who have found themselves under the shadow of uncertainty, insecurity, fear, and without a clear path to a happy future. I hardily join in our celebration of National Adoption Month. But I dream of a society committed to the Permanency, Safety and Wellbeing of everyone!
If you find yourself having questions about adoption, please email us at: firstname.lastname@example.org.