Tuesday, January 24, 2006
Playing mom and other myths
So, yes, we all know Meg Ryan has just adopted from China. Given the inaccurate reporting, I think we can safely assume that she is in the midst of true sleep deprivation back home with her precious little Josephina Mei Ling Ryan, or Jonathon Jin Tao Ryan (media reports differ on whether it was a girl or a boy), re-learning the joys of incessant diaper changes and voracious hunger. She'll be happy to know that it's just another role. She's "playing Mother to a Chinese baby". Yes, yes, I realize it's a "play" on words--actress playing a role, yadda, yadda, yadda--and, actually, I'm pretty sure the same writer would use the same tired cliché if she were preggers. But sheesh. It just rubs me the wrong way. Hey! You entertainment writers out there! Lissen up! Adoption is NOT role-playing, you got it?! And of course the hordes of celebrity watchers just have to chime in with their commentary on various websites. "There are so many needy children here in Amurrica!" Adopting from China is "trendy", "fashionable". She "spent a fortune" to "buy a baby". You know, those people in China kill girl babies, don't you?!?! Folks, get a grip. Yes, there are "needy children" in the U.S. foster care system. Some people who adopt go that route. More power to them. Some people who adopt adopt privately, using attorneys. Some people who adopt adopt from Russia, or Uzbekistan, or Guatemala. Some people adopt stepchildren or their grandchildren. If someone wants to adopt from China, rather than the other routes, it's their business, and they've usually got reasons for it. (Now, OmegaMom will admit wholeheartedly that some of the reasons proferred for adopting from China, or Russia, or via foster care, or privately, or what-have-you grate on her nerves, and she thinks that some people don't think the whole thing through very well, but, hey, it takes at least some thinking to decide which adoption option is best for your family.) "Trendy" and "fashionable" are not the adjectives I would use to describe the process to adopt from China. Dull. Bothersome. An excruciating exploration of the world of bureaucracy--both U.S. and Chinese--which resulted in the Omegas being impressed by the smoothness of the Chinese side and the high frustration quotient from the U.S. side. An exercise in self-examination, just like all adoptions are; you get to write long essays on various key aspects of your personality, such as what your childhood was like, what sort of tactics you employ to manage stress, why you want to adopt, what you think being a parent is/will be like. But "trendy"? "Fashionable"? It's not like going in to Nordstrom's and picking out some kicky Jimmy Choo shoes, y'know. Can't do it on a whim. Folks "spend a fortune" on cars and think nothing of it. Some folks even do it on a regular basis, like once every three years! (The Omegas are proud owners of an 18-year-old car, the Trusty Justy, which would garner us an astounding $400 if we were to sell it, according to Blue Book.) There are folks who "spend a fortune" on (egads!) Bridezilla-style weddings. Around here, people "spend a fortune" to buy a house these days, though much less of a fortune than in, say, California or New York City. One of OmegaMom's pastimes is popping onto Realtor.Com and perusing the local realty ads, thanking the Kozmik All that they bought back in 1998, and greedily calculating just how much the Omegas would gain by selling their house now. Of course, if the Omegas were to sell, they wouldn't be able to afford purchasing around here any more, and would have to move to, say, Norman, Oklahoma, or Sioux Falls, South Dakota. Neither Meg Ryan nor the Omegas "bought a baby", thankyewverramuch. Dunno how much Meg Ryan spent (there are agencies and agencies, y'know, and some charge much more than others). The charges are for a variety of services and governmental foofarah. For instance, currently the USCIS (formerly the ICE, formerly the BCIS, formerly the INS, all within the past five years) charges $525 for an "Application for Advance Processing of Orphan Petition (Advance Processing Application", plus $70 per person to get the FBI to fingerprint you and clear you of any Dastardly Wrongdoings (even if your fingerprints are already in the computer...like a potential adoptive parent is going to steal someone's identity prior to attempting to adopt). The local agency we are using for our homestudy services charges $1000 to prepare said homestudy, plus $1500 for post-placement visits and reports. Our preferred international agency charges $4000, which covers such services as advising local agencies on how to prepare homestudies for China, assistance with preparing the dossier (you do NOT want to hear the litany of documents that the dossier contains, but you WILL be hearing that litany in the not-so-distant future if you keep visiting OmegaMom), international and domestic postage to cover mailing fees for approximately 300 pages of paperwork per family, translation services, adoptive parent training and post-placement assistance, in-China fees to the Chinese government, group travel arrangements, etc. Then there's the $3000 fee to the Chinese orphanage. If you think that's pricey, just ask any parent of a pre-schooler how much it would cost to have that kiddo in daycare 24-7 for about 10 months, including breakfast, lunch, and dinner (OmegaDotter's daycare would cost $14,000 for 24-hour care, if said daycare were foolish enough to offer it, and that's cheap.) Then there's the travel to China; at the time we gallivanted across the globe to meet our dotter, it cost us $2,200 for two adults traveling round-trip, plus a "lap ticket" for the dotter. As for the Chinese killing girl babies...Dudes. There are 1,306,313,812 people in China, according to the CIA Factbook. What, do you think they are all decanted out of stainless steel uterine replicators? Yes, there's a cultural past of doing away with girl babies. Yes, there's a cultural bias towards boys that, coupled with the One Son/Two Child law in China, results in a certain amount of girl babies being abandoned. But OmegaMom isn't going to spend too much time on this one--trust me, do a little bit of research on the subject before you spout off on killing girl children. Now, you'll have to excuse me. OmegaMom has to go "play mother" and feed her "trendy" fashion accessory, rather than helping the "needy children in the U.S.", while she contemplates the envelope full of documents that she and OmegaDad are going to get writers' cramp filling out so that they can begin the process to "buy a baby".