As mentioned on this blog before, I first heard of and became enamored with adoption via Steven Curtis Chapman. I dreamed of one day adopting a daughter or two from China. Adoption became a great passion of mine, I even made hubby attend an adoption info session while we were engaged! I wanted him to be open to the idea of adoption. At that time in my life, my desire to adopt a child was much stronger than any desire to have a bio child. May sound strange, but it’s the truth.
Fast forward to 2011, we had been married for 4 years, and I began to research adoption. This can quickly become and addiction if you already are prone to be an internet research addict. There is SO much out there on adoption, I feel like I have read it all (although I likely have only scratched the surface). I’ve read about international adoption, foster care and private domestic. Then various articles and personal stories on older child adoption, living with a child with RAD, Guatemalan baby trafficking, attachment, toddler adoption, sibling adoption, adoption = trauma, openness, the damage done by closed adoptions, perspectives from adoptees (esp. in light of trans-racial adoption), and many sad stories of adoption disruption and of parents who regret adopting their child. Phew. There’s just so much to read related to adoption.
The research that I’ve done has challenged and changed some of my previous assumptions about adoption. In bold is what I used to believe:
1) There are more children available for adoption than people willing to adopt. This is SO not the case. For example, in domestic infant adoption, for every baby that is placed for adoption there are at least 8 couples waiting and willing to adopt. In International and Foster Care adoption, there are more applicants than “healthy” children available under 3 years of age . The situations where there are more children than prospective parents are: special needs adoption, sibling adoption, and older child adoption (6 years old and up).
2) There are 147 million orphans in the world that need to be adopted. This number is misleading for so many reasons. First, many of the orphans listed here live in countries where international adoption is not an option. Also, the majority of the 147 million are “social” orphans. This means that they were relinquished due to poverty and they have a mother and/or a father who is alive. With the proper help and supports, many (if not most) of these children would have a chance of being reunited with their family.
3) If you want to adopt, it will happen. Similar to someone who dreams of a bio child, sometimes our dreams do not come to fruition. I read a story of a couple who attempted to adopt for 12 years before giving up their dream of raising a child through adoption. In those 12 years, they were never picked by a birth mother. This is the case for many who attempt to adopt a newborn. Internationally, the doors to various countries are coming to a close slowly but surely. Russia – closed. China “healthy’ newborn – closed (unless you are Chinese). South Korea – in the process of closing. Recently, in Ontario, there have been some changes made to the foster care system and its nearly impossible to adopt without being a foster family first (realizing that the child may never become available for adoption). In the foster-care system here, there are very few adoptions by non-family members . A desire to adopt does not always equal the reality that one will adopt.
Where does this leave me re: my desire to adopt? Over the past 2 years, anytime I have looked into adoption the doors to adopt have slammed shut. I almost have to laugh at how many adoption related avenues I’ve looked into that came back with a resounding “NO!”. Mostly this is related to countries closing or changing their policies or not accepting applicants for a year or two. Sometimes doors close because hubby and I aren’t on the same page at the same time. Or, I get freaked out re: RAD and put the thought of adoption out of my mind for a chunk of time. Then, when feeling more brave, I’ll go back and look into adoption again and even more doors have completely closed.
For a number of reasons, the stars have not yet aligned for us re: adoption. Believe me, you need a) open doors b) lots of sheer willpower and c) star alignment to ever get to adopt! I’m coming to the realization that adoption may never be part of our story. It is sad to accept that something I pictured for my life (adoption) may never happen. Maybe we will adopt one day, but maybe we won’t. The latter is looking more likely.
For now, I’ll continue to live vicariously through other people’s adoption experiences. You bet I’ll keep reading about adoption ethics and alternative strategies for orphan care. And I’ll try to wrap my mind around the fact that sometimes what you previously pictured for your life does not end up being your reality. I’ll keep in mind that this may not be better or worse, just different.