The ancient Romans knew how to adopt. If their biological children were looking a bit knock-kneed and pale, the sort to ruin a good family photo, they simply imported new genes into their line. They chose children for power, for wealth, and in Caesar Augustus’s case, for the glory of the empire. When Julius Caesar needed an heir he scouted round for the most handsome, military-minded, political genius he could find, and adopted him. Shortly thereafter, the Roman empire conquered the world.
The problem with adoption today is it’s been swamped by emotion. Feelings of compassion, sacrifice and attachment can bond you to a baby, but not when that baby becomes a back-arching, collapsing three-year-old, or a teenager with an identity, and an opinion.
Some people say that the love of Christ has constrained them to adopt. I’m partial to that motivation, as long as the love of Christ also constrained them to have biological children. Else adopted children can read between the lines: if you needed a different kind of love to have me, if you needed a supernatural love to bear with me, then I must be a burden, an issue waiting to happen, a rebellion biding time for its voice.
Even better than the Romans though, I think the best reason to adopt is to avoid morning sickness. That would mean that you were simply adopting because you wanted more children, more easily. And what child would rebel against just being wanted?
A white friend was recently asked by a shop teller if her adopted black child was her last born. That shop teller had caught the South African vision. Once a child is adopted, it is no longer adopted. They don’t have a heart mommy and a tummy mommy. They have new birth parents. The adoption is over; not to be mentioned again; especially not in juicy whispers.
But if you happen to like morning sickness then adoption is a great way to improve your family line. A large number of Roman emperors, from Tiberius to Hadrian, were handpicked for their positions through adoption. That’s because emperors knew that their own genes weren’t necessarily the best genes. Some modern families are wising up to this as well. Friends of ours have managed to eradicate eczema and an untold number of allergies from one stream of their family line; others have finally produced a son who has height in his DNA; and still others are overjoyed to at long last have a child who can dance.