Monday, November 5th. 2001 Volume 67, Issue 53


November stresses family values

Gail Gillan
Guest Columnist

Are you a proponent of "family values?" Can you please tell me what that means? I keep hearing it every political season. I hope it
means we are valuing our families, however they may be composed. Value them we should, because we now have some idea how precious they are, and how easily they can be lost.

Not everyone, however, has a family -- at least, not a permanent family. More than one-and-a-half-million children in this country do not
have a permanent home or family. They live in foster care because the families they had could not take care of them. They, too,
deserve to be valued in a family they can call their own.

November is National Adoption Awareness Month, and more than 127,000 older children are looking for permanent homes this
Thanksgiving season.

While politicians pontificate about family values, what is really being done to value our families? Of course, adopting an older child is not
as easy as adopting an infant may be. Older children come with their own personalities, histories and emotional issues. I don't see that
as a detriment, but as a gift -- and I know about gifts.

I am privileged to love two such gifts. My son was 3 when we adopted him; my daughter was 13. Loving them and valuing them has given
all the meaning to my life I will ever need. Most children looking for homes are between the ages of 7 and 16. Those years are some of
the most important in life.

Someone once said having children is a lot like watching your heart walk around outside of your body. It is like that. I see their pain and I
feel their pain, and I cry a little every day with the joy of having them in my life.

The history of a child who is older makes him or her special. Adopting that child is a challenge, but that's the real value in families.
Having children is about giving life back, not about reproducing ourselves. It's about meeting the challenge life has given children with
enough strength to help them shape it. To value a child is to value the history they bring as well as the history you help create.

Older children also come knowing they have a mom and a dad, who may or may not have been able to take care of them, but who were
probably just as loved by them. Do not let that deter you. If I can love two children, why can my children not love two moms? Love is a
gift, not a competition. I see every day the value I have to them, and I hold in my heart all the future they will make for themselves.

This November, as you celebrate Thanksgiving, say a special thanks for all the children in this world, and when someone mentions
family values, ask them about the value of families for all of our children.

Gillan, director of the UH Wellness Center, can be reached via

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