Everyone who adopts is asked, "Why did you adopt?" If you adopt domestically, you're asked, "Why didn't you adopt internationally?" (The implication being that adopting in the U.S. is needlessly risky.) If you adopt internationally, you're asked, "Why didn't you adopt one of the neeedy orphans here in the U.S.?" (The implication being, "What are you, some kind of selfish racist?!")
Well! Actually, this is one of my highlighted posts (see the menu to the left). I thought about it. What to do, what to do? Not much has changed since I wrote that post, though I left out one reason: the predictability and smoothness of the process. A quick back-and-forth via email with The Ringleader, and I end up reposting, with this intro.
Since what prompted me to post the first time was an interesting discussion on another blog, I'm keeping the intro to the previous post, too.
Sster at Boomerific posted (quite a while ago, alas, and I am just now getting to it): "...how about a post in the next day or so about what brought you to adoption and what ethical/moral/political/personal battles you have had to wage surrounding that decision? I'm looking for something more than "I wanted a baby," because we all want babies (see, I'm a little selfish too. just a little. you know.). Everybody's story is so different and interesting."
This is all in the midst of a discussion of "baby shortages" and altruism versus selfishness involved in the process of adopting. Then, this week, the topic on Adoption Parenting included a similar question.
What brought the Omegas to adopting? Well, we started out the usual way: when we got together and knew it was going to be permanent, and looked at my age (34), we said, "Whoops! Time to get started on that family thing!" Unlike the majority of adults, sex just didn't seem to do it. We went off to get tested. OmegaDad was found to have three sperm, one of which wasn't bad...(not literally, but that's OD's joke). We waited until we had $$ for IVF with ICSI. That's when we found out that OmegaMom's eggs were fried--we got one lone little embryo. Got pregnant for three weeks. Tried again. Got cancelled. The eggs were really fried.
OmegaDad, who had had three years to ponder the "what if it doesn't work?" and "OMG, my body is dysfunctional!" issues, immediately promoted adoption. OmegaMom, who was stunned to find out that she had the eggs of a 48-year-old at the ripe old age of 38, went through the requisite angst for about a year, during which she seethed with envy at pregnant women, hated baby showers, cried a lot, and turned into a shrew.
During that year, at OmegaDad's prompting, we trotted off to the local domestic adoption agency, where we hit a snag. Turns out that LDAA, being bound to a conservative religious organization, wanted us to be married three years. We had only been married one. Whoops!
In retrospect, it was a Good Thing. This gave OmegaMom a chance to work through lots of issues and research the adoption world.
I started out on the Adoption Debate board on iVillage (I'm not linking to it because I'm still peeved that they changed the format to one where you have to click through zillions of ads to see the posts--besides, the format killed the board pretty dead, and I haven't been back there in ages). I met and talked with birthmothers, adult adoptees, adoptive parents who had adopted from a variety of systems--domestic private, domestic via the state, international, family, etc. It was a learning experience. I distinctly remember one Sunday afternoon emerging from the office to sob on the sofa, telling my husband that the birthmothers all hated me and it was horrible and I was never going back there, blah, blah, blah.
Of course, I went back there.
I learned a lot about the Bad Old Days of domestic private adoption, where young unwed mothers were forced by their families and adoption agencies to relinquish their childen, even though they didn't want to. Of being in labor with unsympathetic nurses who essentially told them they were Bad Girls and Deserved What They Got. Think this is all gone? A relic of the time when appearances mattered? I know of a case where the teen birthmother was shipped out of town to give birth--without support of friends or family--and her baby was handed over toot sweet to the adoptive parents, because the birthgrandparents didn't want the neighbors to know. This was in 2001.
I read stories of people adopting from the state. Some had to wait years. Some went the foster-to-adopt route, had a child placed with them, only to have the child removed because the birthparents had finally gotten their shit together or because (for some unknown reason) the social workers decided the child needed a different foster family.
I read stories about people adopting from the state who discovered--after the adoption papers were signed--that the files on the child(ren) they adopted had been carefully vetted so that any "issues" were hidden away. Being an optimistic sort, I tend to think this was a case of social workers meaning well, wanting to get children out of the system and into families.
I read stories about international adoptions that turned out to have been the result of corruption and baby-brokering.
OmegaDad and I discussed things endlessly. We started out thinking of domestic private open adoption--we thought that was most ethical. Then we heard stories of potential birthmoms who felt obligated to relinquish their children after months'-long relationships with potential adoptive parents. One day, we went through a series of scenarios where the birthmother realized, shortly after relinquishment, that she had made a mistake...when would we feel ethically bound to return the child to its first mother? One month? Two? Three? Six? It was a hard discussion.
We couldn't bear the thought of having to return a child after having it in the family. But we felt ethically bound to do so.
So we looked at international adoption. OmegaDad, being enthralled with Hispanic culture, wanted to adopt from a Latin American country. At the time, there were a number of articles about corruption in the systems--baby selling, mothers being lied to and discovering that their children, supposedly being cared for in orphanages while the parents made their way through a tough financial spot, had been adopted out, stories like that.
I looked into international adoption from two countries where babies in orphanages were typically abandoned due to cultural and political issues (things that no one person could make a difference about)--India and China.
And, to be crass, these two countries were much less expensive to adopt from than others.
And there were all these girl babies. Babies in societies where not having a family was a big societal ding. Girls in societies where--in my cursory examination--it seemed that females were relatively low on the totem pole. Thirdly, I had heard that the mortality rate for babies in these orphanages was very high.
So...these two countries satisfied us all around: Healthy babies available. Girls (we had resigned ourselves to boychildren if I ended up preggers, because OmegaDad's family was ALL BOYS for three generations). Societal issues that made it seem that it would be better for the child to be adopted internationally rather than remain in an orphanage.
At the time, adopting from India was taking 18 months from start to finish. China was taking less than 12. We wanted a baby now! So we turned to China.
What happened? The time from start to finish for China almost immediately lengthened. It took us 9 months to get our dossier completed. It took 14 months for us to get our referral.
During this time, I began reading about transracial adoption and conspicuous families. Began reading about subtle racism. Began listening to adult international adoptees. Realized there was more to this whole thing than I had originally thought. But those are topics for another post, because this one is just too darned long. Later, gators.
Who's next? I think I will choose Mrs. Figby, at Letters From the Zoo. Take it away, Mrs. F.! (And if you've got a similar post in the archives, please do what I did--repost with a new intro & a tag at the end!) Johnny suggests you choose someone who posts fairly regularly...
Here's Mrs. Figby's post.