Reading the obituaries section of a newspaper can be enlightening. The life of a person is summed up in a few short paragraphs, and many end with a note indicating where memorials can be sent.
On the face of it, sending money on the occasion of someone's death is an odd tradition. I get that the intention is to honor the person by assisting a cause that was close to their heart, but they will never get the chance to thank you for it. Perhaps it provides some comfort to the family, a tangible indication of how much their loved one impacted others. I'm not saying it's wrong — just odd.
What is even more strange to me are the charities that are rarely chosen to benefit from the memorial gifts. There are a number of worthy causes to which one may donate money, but the ones that never seem to be selected are those directly benefitting children.
Sure, churches and colleges need donations to continue their work. Medical research needs to be funded and hospice care is a blessing. But, to be blunt, it bothers me that I see more people donating money to animal shelters than seem to care about sheltering children.
I love cats and dogs, but they aren't going to grow up to be parents, workers or leaders.
The ASPCA estimates more than 3 million pets are adopted from shelters each year. Compare that with the National Council for Adoption's figure of less then 120,000 adoptions of children taking place in 2014.
Drugs and domestic violence are leaving a whole generation with little to no parenting in their lives. These children need help — now — to be able to grow into lives that will be a help, not a drain on society.
I understand that the commitment for adopting a child is much greater in every way than that of adopting a pet. Children live longer, eat more, tend to require more medical care — not to mention mental care — and cannot be left alone while you go to work. They will not provide you with unconditional affection, cannot guard your home and rarely are content to gnaw on a bone.
It's true that not everyone can — or should — adopt. But there are man caves, craft studios and guest rooms in houses that sit empty night after night while the homeowners shake their heads disapprovingly at the reports of children sleeping on the floors of DCF offices.
I'm an idealist. I realize that there are no easy, quick or perfect answers to why children who are taken from or given up by their parents are not found adoptive families within weeks, rather than years — if at all.
I know bringing a child into a family can cause tension — especially if that child has special physical, emotional or mental needs. But if we can "rescue" millions of animals, surely we can also provide homes for children and shower them with love and care as well.
I find it sad that it is not easy to adopt — that the legal and financial hurdles are challenging, to say the least. While it is prudent to have a vetting process, too many parents who are trying to adopt are kept waiting on the processing of paperwork.
I urge you to take a hard look at your life and think about how you can share what you have with others. There are at least 100,000 children in the United States alone that are waiting to be adopted. If you cannot provide a home, consider donating to or volunteering with organizations that aid adoption or foster care. Your efforts could make an impact on future generations.