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0841 Adopting a Child

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Welcome to English as a Second Language Podcast number 841: Adopting a Child.

This is English as a Second Language Podcast episode 841. I’m your host, Dr. Jeff McQuillan, coming to you from the Center for Educational Development in beautiful Los Angeles, California. Our website is eslpod.com. Become a member of ESL Podcast, and download the Learning Guide for this episode.

This episode is a dialog between Scott and Roberta about adopting a child. Let’s get started!

[start of dialog]

Scott: Hi, I thought I’d stop by to pick up those chairs I wanted to borrow.

Roberta: Oh, sure. Here they are.

Scott: What are you doing?

Roberta: I’m looking through the material we got on adoption.

Scott: Are you and Robert thinking about adopting a child?

Roberta: Yeah, we are. We’ve been thinking about it for a long time, and we think we might be ready now.

Scott: Have you decided on an international or domestic adoption?

Roberta: We’re going domestic.

Scott: That means going through the foster care system, right?

Roberta: Yeah, it’s going to be a lot of work getting our house ready and all of the paperwork done. But after we pass inspection, we’ll just need to wait for a call from a social worker with a placement. We hope it’ll happen quickly.

Scott: I thought people had to wait months or years for a baby.

Roberta: They may, but we’re asking for a waiting child, maybe even one with special needs. We may even take more than one child, someone with siblings.

Scott: Wow, that’s a lot of responsibility. Wouldn’t you rather do a private adoption? Then you can call the shots and even have a closed adoption, if that’s what you want.

Roberta: We don’t mind an open adoption, actually. We’ve given it a lot of thought, and we think it’s best if the child knows who his or her birth parents are. That way, they won’t always be wondering.

Scott: I hope everything goes smoothly. I’m sure you’ll both make great parents.

Roberta: We’re not so sure, but we’ll do our best. By the way, you can keep those chairs.

Scott: Really? Why?

Roberta: You have no children and they’re a hazard. We need to childproof this house and we’re starting with those chairs.

Scott: Hey, that’s great. That big-screen TV looks dangerous. I’d be more than happy to take it off your hands, too.

Roberta: Hands off the TV!

[end of dialog]

Scott begins our dialog by saying to Roberta, “Hi, I thought I’d stop by to pick up those chairs I wanted to borrow.” “To stop by” means to go to a place, usually on your way to another place, though not always. “To pick up,” here means to collect from, to get from. Scott is picking up some chairs. Roberta says, “Oh, sure. Here they are.” Here, you can take them. Scott says, “What are you doing?” Roberta says, “None of your business, Scott!” No, she doesn’t say that. She says, “I’m looking through the material we got on adoption.” “Adoption” is the process of bringing a child into your family who is not biologically yours – that is, you’re not the mother or the father but for many different reasons, the mother and/or father is not able to, or not willing, to keep the child. And so, the child may go to another family and become part of that family. We call that process “adoption” (adoption).

Scott says, “Are you and Robert thinking about adopting a child?” Roberta is married to Robert, I guess – that’s convenient. Roberta says, “Yeah, we are. We’ve been thinking about it for a long time and we think we might be ready now.” Scott says, “Have you decided on an international or domestic adoption?” “Domestic” (domestic) means within one country, usually the country where you are living. So a “domestic adoption,” in the United States, would be adopting a child from the United States, who was born here, and “international adoption,” of course, would be adopting a child from a different country. Roberta answers, “We’re going domestic,” meaning we are going to go for a domestic adoption. Scott says, “That means going through the foster care system, right?” The “foster (foster) care system” is the government system that takes care of children whose parents can’t take care of them. Usually in the foster care system a child is taken from its mother or father and put into what we call a “foster home.” They’re not adopted – at least, they don’t have to be adopted by that family.

“Foster parents” take care of children who are not their own but don’t adopt them, or at least, they’re not required to adopt them. “To adopt someone” means to make them legally part of your family. Roberta says, “Yeah. It’s going to be a lot of work getting our house ready and all of the paperwork done” – all of the forms that they have to fill out. “But after we pass inspection, we’ll just need to wait for a call from a social worker with a placement.” “To pass” means to be approved. “Inspection” is a detailed examination of whether someone has done what they are supposed to do.

If you’re going to be a foster parent in the United States, in most places, you have to prepare your home. You have to go to a lot of interviews. You have to be investigated by the government and the government will usually send someone to inspect your home, to look at your house to make sure it’s safe for a child to be there. That’s why Roberta says “after we pass inspection, we’ll need to wait for a call from a social worker.” A “social worker” is a person whose job it is to help children, to help families, who are having difficulties. Usually the social worker works for the government. “Social workers” take care of placing children into foster families, children who need someone to take care of them. That’s what a social worker does, or at least one of the things a social worker does.

A “placement” (placement) is an arrangement, in this case, for a child to live with a foster family. So, once you are approved as a foster family, then you wait until the government has someone that needs taking care of. They may call you and say, “Tomorrow, we’re going to bring by a five year old girl,” or “Next week, you are going to have a ten year old boy,” and so forth. By agreeing to be a foster family, you agree to take the child that the government gives you, although there’s some choice there in some cases, I would guess.

Scott says, “I thought people had to wait months or years for a baby?” It’s true that in the United States, the adoption process takes a very long time, especially if you are adopting domestically. It’s quicker in many instances, in many cases, if you adopt internationally. Roberta says, “They may. But we’re asking for a waiting child, maybe even one with special needs.” A “waiting child” is a child who is waiting to be adopted. Sometimes the child is first put into a foster family. If the foster family is also interested in adopting, they can, in some cases, adopt the child. Roberta mentions “special needs.” “Special needs” is a term we use to describe children who may have some physical or mental disabilities, some problems. Maybe they have some physical problems. Maybe they’ve had some psychological problems – that would be a child with special needs.

Roberta says, “We may even take more than one child, someone with siblings.” “Siblings” (siblings) are your brothers and sisters. I have ten siblings – eight brothers, two sisters. Scott says, “Wow, that’s a lot of responsibility. Wouldn’t you rather do a private adoption?” A “private adoption” is an adoption arranged between a family and the mother, or parents of a child, without the help of the government, without the government being part of the process, usually without the child going through the foster care system. Scott says, “Then you can call the shots and even have a closed adoption if that’s what you want.” “To call the shots” (shots) is an informal expression, meaning to be making the decisions, to be the person who makes the important decisions. The boss calls the shots at his company, for example.

Scott recommends, or at least suggests, that Roberta and her husband have a closed adoption. A “closed adoption” is an adoption where the mother or parents of the child never actually meet the people who are adopting the child. They may not even know who that family is. Closed adoptions used to be very common in the United States. They are less common now. In fact, I think most adoptions are not closed adoptions. If they are domestic adoptions in the U.S, they are instead “open adoptions.” “Open adoptions” is when the mother or the mother and father know who the parents are. They may meet with the new adopting couple in order to find out if they like the couple, if that’s the family they want their child to be raised in. Open adoptions are much more common nowadays than they were, even 30, 40 years ago.

Roberta says, “We don’t mind an open adoption actually.” “We don’t mind” means we’re okay with that, that’s not a problem. “We’ve given it a lot of thought.” We thought about it. “And we think it’s best if the child knows who his or her birth parents are. Your “birth parents” are the biological mother and father that you have. Everyone has a biological mother and father, even if you don’t live with them or grow up with them. It’s not possible not to have a biological mother and father. Roberta says, “That way, they won’t always be wondering.” This is a, as you can imagine, a topic that a lot of adopting parents think about – whether they want the child to know who their real – or biological, I should say – parents are or not.

Scott says, “I hope everything goes smoothly. I’ sure you’ll both make great parents.” Roberta says, “We’re not so sure but we’ll do our best. By the way, you can keep those chairs.” Scott says, “Really? Why?” Remember Scott came over to borrow some chairs from Roberta and Robert. Roberta says, “You have no children and they’re a hazard.” “They” here means the chairs, not children. Children could be a hazard too, I suppose. A “hazard” (hazard) is something that is or could be dangerous. Roberta says, “We need to childproof this house.” “To childproof” (childproof) – one word – means to make an area safe for a baby or for young children, getting rid of things that might be dangerous. If you have guns in your house, you would probably have to remove them or lock them up in order to childproof your house.

Scott says, “Hey, that’s great. That big screen TV looks dangerous.” Scott is joking now, saying, “Well, if you have to get rid of things that are dangerous in your house, how about your television?” – which, of course, is not dangerous, unless you watch it. Some of the programs are potentially hazardous. Scott says, “I’d be more than happy to take it off your hands.” “To take something off your hands” means to take something that another person doesn’t want anymore or doesn’t need any more. Roberta says, “Hands off the TV.” The expression “hands (hands) off” means do not touch, don’t come close to. She, of course, is not going to let Scott take their big screen, their large television, because that’s not part of childproofing a house.

Now let’s listen to the dialogue this time at a normal speed.

[start of dialog]

Scott: Hi, I thought I’d stop by to pick up those chairs I wanted to borrow.

Roberta: Oh, sure. Here they are.

Scott: What are you doing?

Roberta: I’m looking through the material we got on adoption.

Scott: Are you and Robert thinking about adopting a child?

Roberta: Yeah, we are. We’ve been thinking about it for a long time, and we think we might be ready now.

Scott: Have you decided on an international or domestic adoption?

Roberta: We’re going domestic.

Scott: That means going through the foster care system, right?

Roberta: Yeah, it’s going to be a lot of work getting our house ready and all of the paperwork done. But after we pass inspection, we’ll just need to wait for a call from a social worker with a placement. We hope it’ll happen quickly.

Scott: I thought people had to wait months or years for a baby.

Roberta: They may, but we’re asking for a waiting child, maybe even one with special needs. We may even take more than one child, someone with siblings.

Scott: Wow, that’s a lot of responsibility. Wouldn’t you rather do a private adoption? Then you can call the shots and even have a closed adoption, if that’s what you want.

Roberta: We don’t mind an open adoption, actually. We’ve given it a lot of thought, and we think it’s best if the child knows who his or her birth parents are. That way, they won’t always be wondering.

Scott: I hope everything goes smoothly. I’m sure you’ll both make great parents.

Roberta: We’re not so sure, but we’ll do our best. By the way, you can keep those chairs.

Scott: Really? Why?

Roberta: You have no children and they’re a hazard. We need to childproof this house and we’re starting with those chairs.

Scott: Hey, that’s great. That big-screen TV looks dangerous. I’d be more than happy to take it off your hands, too.

Roberta: Hands off the TV!

[end of dialog]

When it comes to our scripts here on ESL Podcast, the person who calls the shots is our own Dr. Lucy Tse.

From Los Angeles, California, I’m Jeff McQuillan. Thank you for listening. Come back and listen to us again here on ESL Podcast.

English as a Second Language podcast is written and produced by Dr. Lucy Tse, hosted by Dr. Jeff McQuillan. Copyright 2012 by the Center for Educational Development.

Glossary
adoption – the process of bringing a child into one’s family and making him or her one’s daughter or son, even though there is no blood or genetic connection

* When Jennifer found out she was pregnant, but couldn’t take care of a child, she decided to put the child up for adoption.

domestic – within one country; not international

* Our domestic sales exceeded our international sales.

foster care – the system where children live with other families temporarily when their own parents are not able to take care of them, often because there are problems with drugs, alcohol, or abuse

* Randall grew up in the foster care system and lived with six different families between the ages of 11 and 18.

to pass – to be approved; to receive a score that is higher than the minimum requirement on an exam

* Do you think this version of the report will pass the boss’s review?

inspection – a detailed examination of whether something meets the minimum requirements

* Don’t eat at that restaurant! It has failed the last three health inspections.

social worker – a person whose job is to improve the quality of life for someone in a difficult situation, especially a young child in a low-income or violent family

* The social worker visits each child once a month to make sure the home environment is safe.

placement – arrangements for someone to live in a particular home or place, or to be assigned to some person or group

* This test will determine your placements in English and math classes, from the basic to advanced levels.

waiting child – a child who is waiting to be adopted, but is no longer a baby

* Many waiting children have serious psychological and behavioral disorders and need the stability of a family environment.

special needs – physical or mental disabilities that require medical and/or psychological care and may or may not be permanent

* Do you think children with special needs should be educated separately, or should they go to regular public schools?

sibling – a brother or sister

* How many siblings do you have?

private adoption – an adoption that is arranged between the birth parents and the adoptive parents, without the involvement of a government agency

* Tricia wants to select the people who will adopt her baby, so she has decided to have a private adoption instead of working with an agency.

to call the shots – to make the important decisions; to have the power or control to decide how something will happen

* In theory, the CEO is in charge, but really it’s the Chairman of the Board who calls the shots.

closed adoption – an adoption where the biological mother and the adopting parents never meet and do not know each other’s name or contact information, so that the child does not know who his or her biological parents are

* Sometimes a closed adoption is best for the child, especially when the child was taken from an abusive situation.

open adoption – an adoption where the biological mother and the adopting parents meet and regularly interact with each other, perhaps sending letters and photographs of the child

* An open adoption can be emotionally difficult for the biological mother.

birth parents – the biological mother and father of a child; the people who are related to a child by blood

* When Amanda turned 18 years old, she started doing research to try to find out who her birth parents were.

hazard – something that is or could be dangerous

* Caution! These chemicals are a health hazard.

to childproof – to make an area safe for babies and young children, removing things that are dangerous

* They childproofed their home by moving all glass objects to top shelves and nailing their bookcases to the walls.

to take (something) off your hands – to take something from another person so that he or she is no longer troubled by it, often used humorously

* If you decide you don’t like driving that Porsche, I’d love to take it off your hands.

hands off – a humorous or slightly rude phrase meaning that one should not touch something and/or should stay away from it

* Hands off the cookies! They’re for the party.

Comprehension Questions
1. Where will Robert and Roberta’s adopted child come from?
a) From overseas.
b) From an agency.
c) From their own country.

2. What does Scott mean when he says, “Then you can call the shots”?
a) They’ll be able to decide how to punish the child.
b) They’ll be able to determine how much to pay.
c) They’ll be able to make all the important decisions.

Answers at bottom.

What Else Does It Mean?
domestic

The word “domestic,” in this podcast, means within one country, not international: “Most people are more familiar with the president’s domestic policies than with his foreign policies.” The word “domestic” can also refer to the home and family: “I understand Will is having some domestic problems, and they’re beginning to affect his performance at work.” If someone is “domestic,” it means that he or she is good at doing things in the homes like cooking and cleaning: “Jenna hopes Jake will become more domestic after they are married.” Finally, a “domestic animal” or a “domesticated animal” is one that lives with or near people, in their home or on a farm: “They have cows, horses, pigs, and many other domestic animals.”

hands off

In this podcast, “hands off” is a humorous or slightly rude phrase meaning that one should not touch something and/or should stay away from it: “You can borrow any of my clothes, but keep your hands off those Prada shoes!” if someone is “hands on,” he or she is highly involved in something: “Michelle has a hands-on managerial style and always wants to know what her employees are doing.” The phrase “hands up” means to put one’s hands up in the air without bending one’s elbows: “The police shouted, ‘Drop the gun and put your hands up!’” Finally, the phrase “hands down” means definitely, easily, or without a doubt: “Hands down, that was the best meal I’ve had in years!”

Culture Note
The Benefits and Pitfalls of International Adoptions

International adoptions offer many “potential” (possible) “benefits” (advantages; pros) to American families, but they also present several “pitfalls” (disadvantages; cons) that may not be present in domestic adoptions. Perhaps the greatest benefit is that international adoptions can be made from a larger “pool” (group) of “orphans” (children whose parents have died). This is especially true for “cases” (situations) where people want to adopt an “infant” (a baby, less than 6-12 months old). In March 2010, the U.S. Department of Health and Human services reported that there were more than six million infants available for adoption “overseas” (in other countries), compared to only 60,000 domestically.

In many cases, the requirements for adoptions are less “stringent” (strict; difficult to meet) in other countries than in the United States. Sometimes “prospective” (someone who wants to do something or is interest in something) adoptive parents are not “granted” (given; issued) permission to adopt a child domestically because they already have several children, are over a certain age, or cannot offer an appropriate home. These couples may choose to adopt internationally to “avoid” (not deal with) such requirements.

However, international adoptions can be extremely expensive, especially since they involve large travel costs. There may also be “subsequent” (happening later) questions about whether the child’s parents agree to “put their child up for adoption” (offered for adoption), and written records may be limited. In some cases, there are concerns that the birth parents were paid or “coerced” (forced to do something) to put up their child for adoption.

Comprehension Answers
1 - c

2 - c