It's not exceedingly frequent, but I have often considered the idea of adopting a child. Depending on my circumstances in a few years, I may even consider adopting a couple of children.
On a flight to Miami last year, I sat next to a woman on the plane. She was interested in me and what I do, and so we chatted about this and that. Women who are mothers typically light up when I tell them about my research. It's kind of cool, because I get to hear many wonderful stories. Before I knew it, she told me the story of her adopted daughter. She said that when she was 28 years old (my age!), she was working as a nurse in one of the Miami hospitals. She and her husband had been trying to conceive their own child for 3 years, and nothing was working. One day, a 15-year-old girl girl arrived at the hospital with "stomach cramps" and delivered a full-term baby. The girl was on vacation with her family from Brazil, and the father insisted that she leave the baby behind. Apparently, one of the nurses came to the woman when she was on her break and asked if she wanted a baby. The answer was an unequivocal yes, and she and her husband adopted the baby girl. The woman beamed when I asked to see pictures of her then 18-year-old daughter. In 100% proud mother fashion, she shared with me all 30 of the wallet photos she had in her purse.
In my travels, I get handed babies all of the time. Of course, I find this more comical than anything. I always bounce the baby around, make a few faces, laugh and hand it back to its rightful owner. One time, though, I was touring through a coffee-picking tenement near the Nicaraguan border, when a woman desperately handed me her child and said that he would die if I didn't take him with me. I certainly didn't laugh when I heard this one. She said that the baby was her 5th child and that she couldn't afford to feed another one. I looked at her, then looked at the little boy in my arms and realized immediately what was amiss. The mother was a very attractive woman with dark, distinctively Mayan features, but the child had honey-colored skin, curls of dark-blonde hair and big, round, deep green eyes. The mother pulled me aside and pleaded that I take her child to his "American father". At first I was confused, but then I looked at the two children that were clinging to her skirts and knew exactly what had happened. Sexual tourism is a big thing in this part of the world. American men come down from the States for women like this all of the time. I later learned (in a brothel in San Jose), that these loser American types are referred to as "Teddy Bears" because they are all typically big, fat and hairy. (And in my mind, telling their wives and kids in the suburbs that they are going on fishing trips down South. Anyway.) Doing the math on the child in my arms, I calculated that he had most likely been conceived during the last Christmas season. From my brothel friends in San Jose, I learned that it's not especially uncommen for women to come to the city sell their bodies, most especially over the Navidad season, so that they can give something to their children.
Of course, I am in no position to even consider bringing children into my life. I don't anticipate being there for quite some time, and I am in no rush. But the thought is there. Not too long ago, I thought about how the act of parenting is really having the ability to give someone a great childhood. Every child deserves to be safe and loved. In this, every child deserve a proper childhood. One day, I'm sure I'll reclaim a bit of my own lost childhood in the process of caring for new little people, whether they are biologically mine or not.