Friday, February 2, 2007

So why can't I just be happy for them?

It's not my place to judge. Why is it any of my business if someone decides to adopt a child from a foreign country? It shouldn't be my concern. That's a decision that their family has made.

But I have to admit I have mixed feelings about their decision.

There, I've said it.

It's not fair to their future adopted daughter. Who I'm sure will be beautiful and intelligent. They are giving her a chance - which she almost certainly wouldn't have had in her birth country. She will grow up with every advantage here. Her parents and grandparents are very comfortable.

I'm hoping that by blogging about this and admitting I have mixed feelings will help me acknowledge it and move on.

I really don't understand what they've gone through. I know the mom had been on fertility treatments for some time before their son was born last year. And that her pregnancy was very difficult. I can't begin to comprehend what going through the treatments or having morning sickness until week 30 would be like. (I only had morning sickness until week 20, and I didn't have to take medication for it).

So why wouldn't it be okay that they decide to go to an Asian country to adopt a little girl?

Overall, I think the US adoption system needs a serious overhaul. I only have second and third hand evidence about the process. But, as a society, it doesn't seem right to me that couples are going overseas to adopt kids when we have kids here in the US that could be adopted. Granted, most of the time, the kids here are not babies and have baggage. And the birth mothers have up to a year sometimes to change their minds. This would be a heart break for any family to go through. An overseas adoption does not have that chance. And, the second hand evidence is that kids here in the US usually could have special needs - birth mothers who abused drugs or alcohol during pregnancy. But is this really the case? I don't know.

I do know that parents here have to jump through enormous hoops to adopt from the US. To some extent, that makes sense. You want any child to go to a fit parent. But are the adoption agencies allowed too much discretion in their selective process? So US couples decide it's not worth the hassle - and that it's easier to go overseas?

I don't understand why adoptive parents have to go through so many hoops when basically anyone with the fertility could become a parent.

My father in law suggests that we should start selling babies to the highest bidder. When he first suggested this, I thought he was joking. As I thought about it, it does make some sense. Why not compensate a birth mother for the ten months of incubation? Why not make sure all her medical bills (and living expenses) are paid for? Obviously, some oversight would have to exist to prevent people from adopting who were not fit parents.

Yet currently, many adoption agencies are very concerned with adoptive parents being religious and Christian. There are lots of other random requirements that aren't fair.

So I'm going to try and hold my tongue and be happy for my friends. I don't know them well enough to share my mixed feelings with them. I don't think it's right to adopt a baby when your kids will only be 9 months apart.

I'm sure part of my issue is that I'm not sure I agree with having kids close together. Of course, I had twins so my two are automatically close together. So take anything I write with a grain of salt. I just think that some of the conflict I had with my sister (who is fifteen months younger than I am) over the years was due to how close we are. Sometimes there can be a great deal of competition between kids who are so close in age. I'm not critizing a couple who has children close together, because there are many advantages (including those for the parents). I'm just suggesting that it's not always the best policy - especially if your kids will only be nine months apart??!? It is hard for me to understand their urgency in adopting now.

It is none of my business what decisions another person makes about parenting. As I posted in Run Ladies Run, these issues are complicated. It's not fair that one couple is able to have kids when another is not. It's not right that people are allowed to become parents who are not capable of being parents (those who abuse their children). The chances of that changing in the U.S. are about one in a zillion. No politician could ever run on a platform limiting fertility.

And not only that - but there is another couple we know who has not been able to conceive. I would feel much more comfortable with them going to Asia (or anywhere) to adopt. How crazy is that? Why would I feel more comfortable with one couple than another?

So I look forward to any and all comments. Please feel free to tell me I'm way off base here and being too judgemental, because I might be. It's a relief to get this off of my chest.


C. L. Hanson said...

I would be a little hesitant about selling babies to the highest bidder and turning baby-selling into a business. I don't really think humans should be bought and sold.

On the other hand, it seems reasonable to expect that the adoptive parents will pay the hospital bills if the birth mom doesn't have insurance to cover it, plus possibly some living expenses during the pregnancy as well if appropriate (on a case-by-case basis).

Have you read Dan Savage's book The Kid?

Dan Savage and his boyfriend adopted a kid from a young homeless woman. It was an open adoption, and -- if I remember correctly -- the birth mom selected them from a list of couples. Apparently another couple had been selected but backed out because of the fact that the birth mom had been drinking during the early stages of pregnancy (when she didn't know she was pregnant). But the baby turned out to be fine -- perfectly healthy. I'm pretty sure they ended up paying some living and medical expenses related to the pregnancy and birth.

In the book they explained a lot about adoption law and how it varies from one state to the next.

I wouldn't think the fact that the kids are so close in age would be a big problem. My husband and his older sister are ten months apart (neither is adopted), and it didn't seem to be a big problem for them. Plus we have another friend who is that close in age with her brother and it hasn't been a problem. She explained how it was very hard on her mother when the younger one was a baby because essentially they're both babies at the same time but at different developmental stages, hence with different needs, but once they got a bit older it was less of a problem.

Actually, with you and your sister, I think part of the problem was that you were very close in age and your parents followed up with so many more kids after that. Kids in big families end up fighting each other for their parents' attention -- there's no way around it because parents have only so much time and energy per day. My sister and I fought and competed terribly, and we were a full two years apart in age.

When the parents have only two or three kids, I think it's good for the kids to be fairly close in age because you get the advantage of having a playmate without the disadvantage of getting lost in the crowd...

Aerin said...

Thanks for your comments chanson.

I haven't read that book - but I will put it on my list.

I hear what you're saying about humans being bought and sold. I will ask my father in law more about his theory and its defense - but I think it has to do with the market creating equality instead of the 500 question insanity that some potential adoptive parents have to go through. The market isn't full proof though - as we know.

Thanks for the re-assurance about the kids' being close in age. My husband is 4 years older than his brother - and they get along famously. But they are the only two children. Maybe it has more to do with the parents and the amount of time they have to spend with their kids (mine didn't have much - as you know!)

It might have to do with personality as well - you and your sister are so different. I remember that even when we were little you both were very different.

C. L. Hanson said...

That's a good point.

Common wisdom holds that the first two kids in the family always compete ferociously, and I've often wondered why I ended up competing so much more with my younger sister than with my older brother. I'd always figured it was mostly because Mormons treat boys so much differently than they treat girls (so I was always lumped together with my sister while my brother was held to be on a different plane...).

However, it might also be that he and I had more compatible/complementary personalities, which was less the case between me and my sister.

Freckle Face Girl said...

I am fertility challenged & about 2 years ago, I started looking into the whole adoption thing just to know my options. Like you, I had felt that it is a little sad to take kids away from their culture, but I've changed my opinion. Most foreign countries only adopt out kids in institutionalized orphanages (by FAR an ideal upbringing). They also prefer to give US citizens ones with medical problems (simple things like kids with rickets -Russian- to more complex issues) because they feel the kids in the US have the best chance. Also, if parents are willing to pay over $30k to get the kids, they’ll probably pay for good medical care.

As far as adopting in the US, it is usually cheaper, but can take a long time. After years of battling fertility issues, couples are tired of waiting and riding an emotional roller coaster.

Aerin said...

Thanks FFG for your comments.

My question is - why does the process take so long here in the US? Why are there so many hoops here that couples decide to go overseas instead?

Fertility is such a personal, private thing. On the other hand, it also is a matter of some public policy.

It's hard to know what the role of the public should be. I read stories about parents who abuse their kids - and my heart breaks. But why is it so expensive for couples to have fertility treatments - and why are they not covered by insurance.

I would like to see more of a cultural conversation about these issues - because they impact a lot of people and our culture as a whole.

The Queen B said...

I know this is an old post, but I thought I'd throw in my 2 cents.

Coming from the adoption profession, I believe there are many misconceptions surrounding adoptions. Many families are choosing to go overseas to adopt for numerous reasons.

First, the children are already available for adoption and we can give families a better timeline of how long there adoption process would take. Whereas with a domestic adoption, you (the family) are waiting to be chosen by a birthmother. This is in indefinite amount of time and once chosen there is no gaurantee that she will place with you at the end.

Secondly, once placed with the child, Domestically speaking, the birthmother does have a set amount of time to change her mind, it is her right. There are some families, after going through SO much loss already just don't feel as if they can handle another. Let it be noted that this fear is extremely justifiable. I had a family who had 5 miscarriages and wanted an adoption that would result in them being parents. When you adopt internationally there are also risks involved but the chances of a birthmother coming forward once your adoption is final in your country of choice is rare.

Thirdly, there are some families who, again since dealing with their personal infertility journey, are not wanting an open adoption where a relationship is expected between them and their birthmother. In Domestic adoptions, birthmothers are encouraged to retain some sense of openness for the sake of their emotional well being and the childs. That is not to say that a birthmother will always choose this route. I saw numerous times where a birthmother preferred a closed adoption. However, as a prospective adoptive parent, you must be prepared for this scenario.

As far as cost, International Adoptions easily cost more than a Domestic Adoption and the "hoops" a family must jump through are just as stringent if not more than a Domestic Adoption. Just recently, the CCAA (China Center for Adoption Affairs) have rewritten their laws making their adoptions much harder for American couples to qualify.

Similiar to what FFG mentioned, the children in International Orphanages are living a institutional life, one without promise for a healthy future. It has been reported that children in Russian orphanages who never get adopted will live a life of deviant behavior. There is no foster care system set up like we have here in the US. Obviously I am not saying our system is more ideal or without it's horrible potholes, however, statistically, compared to the plight of these children, at least our system does give a chance for these children.

All in all, when it comes to adoption, one size does not fit all. You must make your decision based on what is best for your family and what you can best provide that child.

Anonymous said...

Thanks Princess for your comments. It is helpful to have the additional information that you noted.

I definitely agree that it's a good thing to give children from foreign countries a chance. Russia has a history (this information is hearsay, over 10 years old, from Olga Spachil) of not allowing some of their kids to be adopted out of the country. They want their orphaned children to stay in Russia. While that's their right, sometimes one has to question what is really best for the child. An institutionalized life? Or family in a foreign country who would love them?

I'm just wondering if we (Americans) need to revisit some of these laws surronding adoption in general. I'm not sure the system is working.