Monday, June 28, 2010

Why China?

I have been asked this question quite a bit, so I thought I'd give you some insight into our decision. First, I have always thought that maybe one day I would adopt a child from China. I'm sure a large part of that has to do with the family that I first babysat for where the idea of adoption came into my life. I was 12 years old. They had a biological daughter, a son from Guatemala, and twin girls from China. As I grew up, I just figured that adoption would be part of my life... and it felt like China would be too.

After Brad and I decided that we were going to adopt to expand our family, I decided that I needed a more systematic approach rather than just "going with my gut". Unfortunately, I've never been great at trusting my instincts. So first I started to look into options stateside. Doing a domestic private adoption never really crossed my mind. There are a lot of people out there who are unable to have children of their own. They are trying to bring home babies through private adoption and I didn't feel like I would want to take away an opportunity from someone else... especially someone who had no children yet. I have also seen some heartbreak when a birth mother or father decides that they don't want to give their baby up. This process was not an option for us.

I decided to look into the foster care system. Brad and I agreed that we would want to adopt a girl who was under 4 years old. One big requirement was that parental rights be terminated by the time this child came into our lives. I cannot imagine the heartbreak of bringing a child into your home that you hope will stay with you forever and then having to give her back (possibly to a less than optimal home life). I definitely couldn't bear the thought of Sierra and Laurel dealing with this too. It wouldn't be fair to cause so much upheaval in their lives. I looked at various state and country wide websites and organizations. I finally called a local social worker who organized foster care in our area. She reiterated the conclusion that I had come to with my searches... it would be next to impossible for us to bring a child home through the foster care system. The goal of foster care is to eventually reunite children with their biological families. Typically, with the younger children especially, when their parental rights are terminated their foster families will adopt them. We just didn't feel we could handle bringing a child into our home who might be taken away. I hold foster families in the highest regard to be able to love and care for children temporarily and have the strength to let them go.

So on we went to explore international adoption. As I said, I felt a strong pull to China, but wanted to look at all the possibilities before we made a decision. We bought a great book that kind of outlined that different requirements for each country. They vary greatly and can be a little quirky! Most countries have specific requirements for the parents' ages, how long they have been married (if marriage is required), how many other children are in the house and minimal income. China also has a maximum BMI! Other countries' specifics require you to live in the country for a period of time, own land there, certain age difference between you and the child! Something else that we considered was how many times we would travel to the country before we brought our child home (once for China) and about how long we would have to be there (14-17 days for China). At the time we thought that the girls would not be coming with us, so it was important that we not have to travel extensively. We did consider overall cost of the adoption, which varied GREATLY from country to country. Something else that was appealing about China was that the whole system is very regimented. You know exactly what to expect both cost-wise and timelines. Some countries have a very corrupt system that can be difficult to navigate in order to bring your child home.

I was very thankful and relieved when I realized that China would indeed be the best fit for us. Everything seemed to fall into place. I guess I just should have gone with my gut from the start!

On a side note as I double check my horrible grammar before I post this, Sierra and I were driving to swim practice today. We were discussing my desire for her to be married before she has children. She asked if you had to be married to adopt a child. I told her that some countries will let you adopt if you are single but that you have to be married to adopt from China. Sierra said that was sad that some people couldn't adopt if they wanted to. I agreed and we talked about my good friend Lisa who jokes that she'll never be able to adopt from China because she doubts that she will ever get married. Sierra quickly responded, "She can come live with us and we can share Cadence with her!"!! She is a sweet girl! Wonder if Brad would agree to that?!

1 comment:

  1. Great recounting your reasons for choosing China. My wife and I had a similar realization on many fronts. Congratulations, your family life will be so much richer than you can ever imagine.
    Scott from The O Chronicles Blog