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It's Time to 'Think Different' About Adoption

Editor's note: Saturday, November 19 is National Adoption Day.

This November we make a collective national effort to raise awareness and celebrate the thousands of adoptive families who have given so many innocent children loving homes. 

National Adoption Month’s focus on helping hundreds of thousands of children currently in foster care elevates the discussion about the sanctity of human life, and the broader implications our choices have on the lives of women, their children, and our culture as a whole.

This month I’m asking everyone to “think different” about adoption. Adoption is an important option that is not discussed nearly enough in the public debate about choice. 

While some argue that a “woman’s right to choose” is in peril, others argue that we are becoming a morally bankrupt society as if we are forced to choose between a woman and her unborn child. 

Rarely is the case for adoption made with the same vigor as the case for abortion.

The debate is too often framed as an either/or proposition. When the adoption option is introduced, however, the debate is transformed into a both/and proposition. With adoption, never is the case where our society is forced to choose between a woman and her child, and a young unwed mother is forced to choose between the life she expected, and the life of her child.

Studies have shown that children who were born out-of-wedlock, but are raised by adoptive parents, do better in a number of categories than those who are raised by single mothers. They attain higher levels of education, have higher self-esteem, and enjoy better health. 

Similarly, adoption is also good for birth mothers. Such women are more likely to be employed a year after the adoption, more likely to complete their education, and they are more likely to express overall satisfaction with life than their single-mother counterparts.

With millions of couples delaying marriage, or putting off starting a family for economic reasons, many miss the biological window to start a family. Adoption is a wonderful way for couples who struggle with fertility to have a family, give a happy and healthy home to a child in need, and offers the un-expectant mother the choice to better her own life.

As I walk into my office in Washington, D.C. there are always protesters arguing their case on both sides. The politically charged, graphic pictures on huge poster boards outside the Capitol are never of an adoptive child. 

Where are the large pictures of our great American heroes that were adopted and given a chance to be great? 

Where would the game of baseball be without the big hitter Babe Ruth

How would have the civil rights movements turned out if Malcolm X hadn’t been put in an orphanage and later fostered by various families? 

What would America look like if Steve Jobs’ birth-parents hadn’t wanted a better life for their son?

When I think of the adoption option I’m reminded of a quote by Steve Jobs from Mac’s “Think Different” campaign: It gives the “crazy ones, the misfits, the rebels, the round pegs in the square holes … the opportunity to push the human race forward.” 

It’s time we all start to “think different” about adoption, and embrace an option that gives those who may not have otherwise had a choice, the opportunity to achieve greatness and change the fabric of American culture.

Republican Rep. Michael Grimm currently serves in the House of Representatives, representing New York City's Staten Island and parts of Brooklyn. He is also a member of the Congressional Coalition on Adoption.