Q: I've heard that you were abandoned and orphaned as a child, and that Focus on the Family is encouraging adoption through the foster care system. Can you provide my spouse and me with any guidance, or suggest any resources as we consider adopting a child?
Jim: You've heard correctly, so I'm encouraged to learn of your interest in adoption. Currently, there are approximately 100,000 kids in the United States waiting for permanent adoptive families. In each instance, parental rights have been terminated, so the only "parents" the children have are the states in which they live. For this reason, to adopt from foster care, it's necessary to work through a licensed placing agency.
After selecting an agency, individuals will need to complete an application, have a background check and undergo a home study (conducted by the agency). You can access your state's website through the link on our site at www.iCareAboutOrphans.org/StateAdoptionRequirements. This page will direct you to more specific information on adoption in your state and help answer many of your questions.
I'd also encourage you to visit our Adoption and Orphan Care Initiative website (www.iCareAboutOrphans.org) from time to time to stay current on matters related to adoption. It offers a wide range of current resources that will be of help, regardless of where you are in the adoption process. I'd also strongly recommend reading David Sanford's "Handbook on Thriving as an Adoptive Family: Real-Life Solutions to Common Challenges" (Focus on the Family, 2008). If we can be of further assistance, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 1-800-A-FAMILY.
Q: My 16-year-old daughter wants to get a tongue ring and a tattoo. I'm skeptical. What are your thoughts on this?
Dr. Greg Smalley, Vice President, Family Ministries: Piercings and ink are becoming more and more popular among youth and even adults. But there are some things you and your daughter need to be aware of before she takes the plunge.
When it comes to tattoos, there are health risks to consider. Complications can include local bacterial infections, allergic reactions and potential disfiguring skin reactions. More serious infections, such as hepatitis C, hepatitis B and HIV can result from tattoo needles that have been contaminated with infected blood. Plus, as time passes, many regret the tattoos they got in their younger days. Removing them is not only costly, but may leave scarring.
Piercings carry similar risks. Oral piercing carries a higher risk of infection than ear piercing, and also opens the door to dental and gum problems.
Finally, there are sexual and "subcultural" implications associated with certain tattoos and piercings. Your daughter may not intend to send overtly sexual or rebellious signals through her choices, but that doesn't mean others won't perceive them that way. Do some homework first to make sure she's not communicating anything dangerous or unnecessarily provocative. Like it or not, other people will often make assumptions about her character and personality based on her appearance. This is especially true in job interviews. So it's worth taking the time to think through the image she wants to portray.
If, after examining all the evidence, your daughter is still determined to go through with it, you have two choices. Given that this decision will have lifelong consequences, you may feel it's in her best interest to exercise your authority as parents and ask your daughter to hold off until she's 18. On the other hand, since she's considering something that is not inherently immoral or illegal, is this worth creating a potential rift between you? May God grant you wisdom in this process!
Jim Daly is a husband and father, an author, and president of Focus on the Family and host of the Focus on the Family radio program.