Sunday, March 19, 2006
A wee bit of clarification
In my last post, I grumbled about people who imply or state outright that other people shouldn't write to their agencies to inquire about the Hunan case because China might close down its international adoption program and thus, they might lose their referral. I'm sorry I came down so hard. Because I truly understand that almost gut-level fear of having the rug yanked from under you because people won't keep their yaps shut. The closer you get to referral--especially if you're a first-time parent-to-be--the more paranoid you get, the more fearful, the more anxious. You're on edge all the time, just waiting. You know it's coming, but every little bit of negative news in the media makes your heart stop for a few moments, worrying that this particular piece of information is going to be The Straw That Broke The Camel's Back, and your precious hope that has been growing bigger and bigger over the months (the hope that you maybe thought you'd never really feel) is so tenuous, so new to you, that it seems fragile and easily disrupted. Perhaps it's that one feels differently once one has a child with you. It's no longer about the "might be". The theoretical is replaced by reality. A daydream child is now made flesh, and it's not about you any more. There's this other little person in your life, and the stories about possible baby-trafficking are no longer stories impacting your international adoption, they are now stories that might impact this important person in your life. It goes from the abstract--"Will this stop the international adoption program?!" and "How sad that some childen might have been stolen..."--to the concrete--"What if my daughter was stolen from her birthparents?!" OmegaDotter is just now beginning to understand a bit what adoption means, what having a birthmother means, what being born in China and living in the U.S. means. A translucent mental framework is being built, and odd little posts and beams in that framework suddenly *POP* into solidity for her now and then. Right now, it's very sporadic, but I expect this process to accelerate as she grows. I read the commentary from parents of older children adopted from China, and many of them share comprehension milestones. Many of these children, as they reach ages 8, 9, 10, have started having hard questions that they are working through. "Why was I adopted by you? Why not someone else?" "Why did my birthmother leave me?" "Why am I Asian/different?" "Can we go see my birthfamily?" "What if someone stole me from my birthfamily?" (Yes, one parent writing to the Big List reported this question, unprompted.) These same parents, four years ago, discussed having children in the same place OmegaDotter is in now...so, using their experience as a guidepost has been invaluable for me. It's kind of like having the adoptive parallel to toddler milestones: Babbling? Check. Walking? Check. Two-word sentences? Check. Tantrums due to inability to communicate? Check. Growing independence? Check...Wanting the adoption story? Check. Asking about the birthmother? Check. Realization that adoption is different than most families? Not yet...but coming. So the question of possible baby-trafficking, aside from the overall ethical issues it raises (questions which led OmegaDad and I to the China adoption process to begin with), is now highly personal. The good news is that the Hunan case appears to be (a) rare, and (b) somewhat misrepresented. Reports from the trial indicate that the "ringleader" was actually a woman who took in abandoned babies (or acted as an informal "safe haven" for parents who couldn't directly abandon their children) and tried to find orphanages for them. Check out Brian Stuy's blog for more info. (Whether Brian should be considered a "researcher" or not, he seems to have a lot of direct interaction with orphanage personnel.) Anyway, this is a long-winded apology for coming on too strong, too strident. I know lots of folks who are close (hopefully!) to their referrals, and I don't want them to think I'm running roughshod over their spiraling emotions.