Almost daily someone asks me about our adoption. The most frequently asked question is “When will you go get him?”. Their jaw almost always drops when I have to say “Not for another six to eight months..” Yes, our home study showing we are fit parents is complete. Yes we have completed our required 12 hours of training, and have read several books to prepare ourselves. Yes, we have gathered all the necessary legal documents. Yes we have completed a finger print back ground check. Yes, we have prepared our home for the addition for another child. We have been declared fit parents, and that we are a safe and loving home for this little boy. So….what’s the hold up? BUREAUCRACY!!!
I shouldn’t complain too loudly. Our adoption should take about 12-15 months. That is much shorter than the average time of three plus years. There is a disconnect between the many families available for adoption here in the USA, and the children waiting for them in orphanages around the world. This has been one of those situations where you just shake your head in sorrowful disbelief, but you don’t really know what you can do to change it. Wellll……..a new nonprofit has popped up to address this issue. The mission of Both Sides Burning is to raise awareness about adoption as a viable option, and to facilitate a change in the current system of international adoption. In an effort to raise awareness of the problems engulfing international adoption they have developed a full length documentary titled “Stuck”.
The film will be available in select theaters across the country! It is comming to my city, and I could not be more thrilled! In fact, I have even volunteered to help get the word out to faith based organizations. You can find the dates and city listings here just scroll to the bottom to find the calendar. All proceeds from the movie go back into the campaign. If you cannot attend a showing here are some other ways you can make a difference.
First, sign the petition to congress.
Second, share this blog post on your Facebook page. Or, add a link to their website to your Facebook or twitter account.
Third, if you do live in a city where Stuck is showing you can be part of their volunteer core. They have jobs for people from involved to very simple. I am sure there is something for everyone.
Last, you can become a “Member” of the organization for a donation of $35 or more. Members get special access to the progress of the organization as well as a wrist band identifying you as a supporter of children and families.
It only takes a minute to sign the petition and hit the share button. I hope that if you agree that all children should be given the basic right to be nurtured and loved by a family that you will take a few minutes to help create a positive change in the international adoption machine.
I never pictured myself as an interracial parent. I was very surprised when God opened our hearts to a Chinese boy. It is not that I have any problem with Chinese culture or people, I just didn’t know anything about it. Once we committed ourselves to this little boy I started reading everything I could about Chinese culture, and interracial adoption. Honestly, I could not be any whiter, and I have absolutely no idea what it means to be Chinese in America.
I have always known it would be important for our son to maintain his cultural heritage, but I am learning that race issues are far more complicated than simply attending Chinese school. One of the issues I worry about is him not being accepted by members of the Chinese culture because he isn’t “Chinese enough”. Add to this a cultural negative attitude about adoptees and people with disabilities, and it might be very difficult for him to really connect with people from his homeland. I realize he may or may not feel a need to participate in the Chinese community, and only time will tell. However, I want him to be able too if he finds it important to a fulfilled life.
One thing I keep hearing over and over again is the importance of parents having close friends from the child’s culture. I can appreciate that it is good for the child to see that you value people who are like them, and that such a friendship could be a large source of cultural information. However, I cannot help having this ridiculous image in my head of white parents, minority children in toe, running up behind other minority adults with the sole intent of feeding their child’s culture bank. It seems to me that seeking out and cultivating relationships entirely on the basis of race or ethnicity is just as demeaning as rejecting a relationship on the same basis.
Don’t get me wrong, we will join our local Families of Children from China, participate in important Chinese cultural events, and encourage our child to maintain his language. I am sure through the course of time friendships will naturally develop as a result of spending time in the Chinese community. I cannot wait to see all the great new experiences and people that will be added to our family.
I read a blog post by Dawn Davenport over at Creating A Family talking about perspective adoptive parents referring to themselves as expecting, and how this is sometimes seen negatively from the perspective of birth moms. The blog post referred to comments made by a birth mother’s blog called Monica’s Musings. I understood the birth mother to say that adoptive mothers calling themselves “expectant” was presumptuous, and puts undue focus on the adoptive parent. She goes on to say this is a problem because we should only be focused on the child, and adoptive parents are making a huge assumption that the birth mother won’t exercise her right change her mind after birth.
Now, I usually stay out of these types of debates. I am not a birth mother, nor have I ever faced infertility. I have been blessed with three biological children, and am now being blessed with the opportunity to become a mother through adoption. For some reason this particular issue didn’t sit we’ll with me. After much thought I think I know why.
First, it is true that adoption outcomes are tenuous by nature, but so is any pregnancy. All pathways to parenting are uncertain. Just ask one of the thousands of heartbroken mothers who have endured delivering a still born baby, or who’s baby died shortly after birth. With each of my three pregnancies I held my breath every time a doctor looked for a heart beat because I knew there was no guaranty of a happy outcome. I am similarly acutely await that there are a number of factors that could tear our hopes of adopting from China in two.
Second, for many parents pregnancy is an exciting time filled with joy and anticipation. Women chatter excitedly about nursery themes, baby names, and showers. Moms, and other family members, begin preparing their hearts and homes for the new arrival. Having had the experience three times, and now “expecting” our fourth child through adoption I can say the two are not that dissimilar. I have proudly showed my future son’s picture to everyone who’ll listen just like I did with my sonogram pictures. I have traded reading baby books for reading about adopting older kids, and blended families. I am preparing his room, and making arraignments for my other children while we are in China. I am no less excited, hopeful, overwhelmed, nervous, or prayerful growing our family through adoption as i was with the births of our biological children. By referring to themselves as “expecting” I think adoptive moms are just trying to share in the feelings of joy and excitement while preparing to become parents. This is especially true if a woman has faced infertility. Not allowing an adoptive mom to say she is ” expecting” diminishes her experience, and implies that adoption is a lesser means of becoming a parent. This seems somewhat disingenuous, and slightly mean spirited.
I get that adoption is fraught with loss, and difficult choices on the part of BOTH parties involved. I think that maybe instead of worrying about the vernacular used by someone else to describe their experience we should focus on resolving the individual issues we face.
One of the reasons I chose international adoption was because I didn’t want the type of open adoption that is so common in the United States. I didn’t want the extra stress of having the biological mother in my life. I particularly didn’t want another woman that is likely not to share my values having an influence over my child. I was under the mistaken impression that going halfway around the world would keep this other woman out of my life. The truth is that although we’ll never meet she is a part of my life. Like it or not, I am sure she will have an influence over my son to be.
Several days ago was my son to be’s legal fifth birthday. I say legal birthday, because the truth is no one really knows the true date of his birth. He was abandoned outside of a hospital as an infant. It is illegal to relinquish children in China so there was no note left with information that could possibly lead the police back to his biological family. As my heart was aching for this child I suddenly thought about his biological mother. After all she knew his exact birthdate. Where is she now? Does she think of him each year on his birthday? Does she wonder how he’s doing or if he received the eye surgery she couldn’t / wouldn’t provide?
Suddenly and unexpectedly I started to have a heart for this other woman. As a biological mother myself I wanted so much to reach out to her. I wanted her to know that he did receive a sight saving surgery. That he is relatively healthy and happy. I wanted her to know that he would be joining our family in America. That he has the chance to grow up in a close loving family with lots of siblings. That his tummy would never be truly hungry again, or that he would never be too cold to sleep. I wanted to look her in the eye and tell her how much I love the child she carried, and what good care I will give him. Of course there is no way for me or the orphanage staff to contact her. All I can do is pray that she has found peace with the decision she made to abandon her son.
i have to admit when I first began my adoption journey I saw most birth parents as selfish cruel people who just threw away their children. I didn’t see them as individuals facing tough decisions. I thought of them more like a group of faceless people who were just taking the easy way out. I now realize that this assessment is overly simplistic, and unduly harsh. These mothers are faced with very difficult pressures like extreme poverty, lack of healthcare, one child laws, and pressures from older generations of family members to get rid of the ” unlucky one”. Conditions in an orphanage aren’t great, but it does mean at least some healthcare, food, and education for these children. My son to be can see now because of the cataract surgery he received on both eyes. Leaving him on that hospital road was an act of hope, and love not selfishness or disgust.
I feel a cosmic connection to the woman who carried my son, and gave him life. How much more must he be thinking of her? I am sure in the years to come there will be lots of tearful conversations regarding this other woman. It breaks my heart that I won’t be able to answer his questions about his biological family. Still, I am starting to realize that no matter how far around the world I go My life will forever be linked to this other woman. After all we will both be loving mothers to the same little boy soon I hope.