Monday, September 13, 2010

Adoption Soapbox!

It's probably a little soon to be thinking about our second adoption, but I do it all the time anyway. From the very beginning of this process, we intended to adopt twice. We'd like our daughter to have a sibling, and we'd like them both to come from the same place so that they will not feel alone. This is very important to me, which is why reading about how corruption ended all adoptions from Vietnam makes me nervous. You see, some of these same things are happening in Ethiopia now. We'd all be kidding ourselves if we pretended that people don't try to make money off of other people, in the worst ways possible, and it is not a surprise to me, but it is heartbreaking nevertheless. It is heartbreaking that families that could remain intact are not remaining so due to coercion or outright child theft, and it is heartbreaking that children who truly need families are affected by this. I suppose I don't understand why, with so many children who truly need families, it is necessary to try to talk families into giving up the children they could raise.

Then again, I do understand why. Prospective adoptive parents get impatient. Many people want to adopt healthy infants. There is money involved. So if you want to make a fortune, what would you do? You'd keep your wait times for healthy infants short by finding a way to supply healthy infants to families who can pay the fees to bring them home.

Ethiopia is fast becoming the most popular country to adopt from. Now that China has tightened things up and wait times are long, and Vietnam and Guatemala are closed due to corruption, people are switching to Ethiopia. This would be great news if it meant that only children who truly need families are being adopted, but unfortunately, that's just not the case. Frankly, I am shocked to read how many people will only consider healthy infants. And yes, I realize this has a small touch of "pot calls kettle black" to it, as we were requesting a baby, and a baby girl at that. I'd love to defend myself by saying that we were open to special needs, but the truth is that we would have remained on the waiting list for a healthy baby girl if no babies with special needs that we felt prepared to handle were in need of a family before we reached the top of the list.

I am mulling over what this means for us next time around. I am so overjoyed to be bringing home a three-year-old that I could see being open to, or maybe even preferring, the same age range the next time around. At the same time, I sometimes think I'd like to have a baby in our house, and I know that Jarod would, not to mention both sets of grandparents. But if our motives for adopting are truly to be a family to a child who needs one, then I think we may have to reevaluate what we are open to. There are some special needs that I don't quite feel prepared to handle just yet, and likewise Jarod has a couple of needs that he is not comfortable with yet. And I say "yet" because we both are open to our hearts and minds being changed by the time we are ready to adopt a second time.

Last week we went to St. Louis to meet with the Ethiopian director of the transition home where are daughter has been staying since early May. I was able to talk to his wife about our daughter, and we discussed why she looked so sad and scared in the first photos we saw of her. It was confirmed that she was very hungry when she arrived, and while it broke my heart that my child was so hungry that she gained two and a half pounds in her first ten days in their care, it also provided the relief of knowing that she truly needs us. I am so grateful that our agency operates ethically. We received an e-mail early on, which was sent to all the parents, that told us point blank that our agency does not go looking for children, and that they wait as long as it takes for children who truly need families to be referred. This makes me feel very good, and we will most likely use the same agency again, so long as their is an again for us and Ethiopia. My hope is that what happened in Vietnam and Guatemala will not happen on such a large scale in Ethiopia (indeed, I hope that all corruption will cease, but I know that's unlikely), and children there who need families will continue to be given when they need.

I also hope that more families who are adopting will begin to be open to wider age ranges and health issues. There are so many children both here in the US and abroad that are truly in need of a family, but are not in the preferred category of "healthy" and "infant." I suppose that I would even take that a step further and say that I hope that families who did not previously consider adoption as a means of family building would become open and willing. It takes work, yes, and it's markedly different from giving birth (not that I'd know, but so they say), but I think that there are many families who would be wonderful adoptive families who are simply not considering it. I say this not in a judgmental way, but just to say, hey, you might be really good at this.

Really, I think you're pretty awesome. You should consider being awesome in an additional way, so long as it won't make you way awesomer than the rest of us. Think about it.

I'll wait right here for your answer. And to meet your lovely children.

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