Friday, October 28, 2011

National Adoption Month

I wrote and posted this one year ago - but it holds true this November as well!

National Adoption Month
November is national adoption month, so I gathered some thoughts about adoption and asked my kids as well.

Ten Things to Know about Adoption- from an adoptive parent’s perspective

1. Adoption is a very personal decision that an individual or couple makes on how to build a family. Don’t automatically assume they have fertility issues or it is a “second-best choice.” It is a permanent, court approved loving decision and one way that parents and children come together. The choice to adopt domestically or internationally is based on many factors and we frequently just “know” our children are waiting for us.

2. Adoptive parents are not “saving” a child and/or looking for “gratitude” from our kids, particularly if the child has been adopted from a developing country. As any adoptive parent will tell you, we are the lucky ones to have these amazing kids in our lives. We will work hard to make sure that they have a full understanding and appreciation for their birth country and heritage.

3. If you are really interested in adoption, the costs and the process- most of us would be happy to discuss our experience or refer you to our adoption agency. We do not, however, want to have these conversations in front of our children. And we will probably not discuss our child’s or their birthparent’s personal history with you.

4. Yes, there are costs involved in adoption, but we do not buy our children. The costs are for attorney fees, travel, paperwork, medical care and orphanage support. Similar in fact to the costs associated with pregnancy and delivery- without the healthcare insurance.

5. We are our children’s “real parents” and they have “real brothers and sisters” in their families. Our children have birthparents who gave them life. We have the joy of raising them and are their parents.

6. It is important not to belittle birthparents. We often have no idea as to why the painful decision was made to place a child for adoption. Even when a child is officially abandoned without record, as often happens in China, there are numerous factors- poverty, government policy, family and cultural pressure that led to the decision.

7. The vast majority of adoptions are wonderful experiences. The media, however, will report on the rare occasions when it does not work out well and an adoption is interrupted. Yes, these are sad and heartbreaking stories and trust me, we have already heard them. Just as a pregnant woman does not want to hear about labor and delivery horror stories, an adoptive or prospective adoptive parent does not want these to be repeated time and time again. We work with our adoption agency and or counselor to prepare for problems that we could face.

8. My child was not “chosen” for adoption because he or she is special. That terminology puts an unnecessary pressure on a child to stay special or perfect. It is actually, the parent(s) that is selected and must live up to certain criteria to be matched with a child. It is our responsibility to make it work.

9. My child is not permanently damaged because he or she was adopted or spent time in foster care or an orphanage. Yes, problems can occur and there are many programs and therapies available to offer solutions to parents and children. However, I don’t assume every behavioral issue or act of misbehavior is because my child is adopted. We are vigilant in getting our kids the help they need – just as parents of biological kids deal with their kids issues. Studies show that the vast majority of adopted kids adjust well and become successful in life.

10. As fellow parents, please speak up when you see an adoption myth being perpetuated in the media or in conversation. Help us spread the word about adoption and help your kids understand that our families are very normal- we just built them in a different way.

Thoughts from my children about adoption

7 year old’s perspective

• Coolest thing about being adopted- “meeting my mom and dad”
• Why did your mommy adopt you – “we matched’
• What do you think about your birthparents in China- “they still love me but could not take care of me.”
• What do your friends ask you about being adopted from China – “why don’t you speak Chinese?”

11 year old’s perspective

• Coolest thing about being adopted –“it is cool to have an interesting background”
• “Don’t like it when people look at us strange or stare because you are white and we are Asian, I think most people who stare do not know what adoption really is all about.”
• Do you ever think about your birthparents and a loss with them not in your life-
“No, because with a loss comes a gain, I am curious, but do not get sad about it.”
• “What matters most is the scenario or family you get adopted into “
• What is more challenging to deal with- being adopted or a being Asian – “being Chinese – it is more noticeable”

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