Thoughts on Adoption

Today, an article appeared on the New York Times regarding Russia’s decision to suspend adoptions to the U.S.

More Pics from Kairi's visit

The reason that Russia called for a halt on all adoptions of Russian children by Americans, in my opinion, was justified. I do believe that there needs to be further investigation from both sides of the ocean (or Bering Strait, I suppose).

As one half of an infertile couple, who at one time seriously considered adoption as a method to start our family, what this adoptive mother did was simply outrageous.  And furthermore, her actions have now affected any other potential adoptive parent who have invested much time, money and emotions in adopting a Russian child. This woman effectively shattered many dreams of many people.

Simply put, this breaks my heart.

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Speaking of dreams … During our engagement, Hubby & I had multiple discussions about how our future would be. We dreamed of owning a house big enough for at least 4 kids with a yard big enough for the dog we would own. We dreamed about how great our careers would be and how we would somehow manage to balance work life and home life.

And we dreamed about how incredible it would be to raise our children; how we would help our children find that balance between being American and being Filipino. We would make sure that they could be proud about their heritage and still be able to embrace the environment in which they lived.

Tyler at the Lego Store in Downtown Chicago

After all, Hubby and I were half- and first-generation** Filipino-Americans. We knew, first hand, the struggles of growing up with half our feet steeped in Filipino traditions and the other half finding a way to assimilate into the Western culture. This was especially evident when we were teenagers growing up in the ’80’s.

I mean seriously … Hubby & I have joked around about how we learned about typical American Teenager behavior from watching John Hughes (RIP … ) movies. In reality, that’s  actually not that far from the truth.

But I digress.

Another one of our dreams as an engaged couple looking towards our bright future had always been about adoption. Yes … adoption.

We had always dreamed about opening our hearts and home to other children who might not have been given the same love and opportunities and life that we had. Specifically we looked into adopting internationally, because we wanted to help a child with transitioning into the American culture much like we had while growing up. We wanted these children to embrace their new environment while being proud of where they were born. Much like we were.***  Err … rather are.

However, in that foggy crystal ball version of our future, adoption was something that Hubby & I planned to do after we had children of our own. After we were able to produce offspring that contained both of our DNA.

Kairi loves her Big Brother
Kairi loves her big brother ...

Call us selfish, but we just really wanted to see our genetic traits in a biological child and then be able to raise a child through adoption. This child might not share the same genes as us, but would share the same love and warmth and upbringing as our biological children. And for me personally, it was a chance for me to see Nature vs. Nurture at its best.

Unfortunately we never did get to see that nature part. At all. And if I was a strong enough person, I might have been able to see the nurture part. At least with raising a child.

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I applaud anyone who has sought to adopt as a means to start or add to their family.

It takes an incredibly strong and capable person to be able to put themselves through all the rules and regulations and investigations into your private lives just to raise a child that is not biologically your own. I know this from reading other IFer’s blogs about adoption and from talking to adoptive parents about their own experiences. From going to adoption agencies to gather information on our own.

... And Tyler loves his baby sister

Reading about Russia today also reminds me about other countries such as China and Guatemala that have also placed restrictions on potential adoptive parents from the U.S. And it’s because I know how long most of these individuals have been waiting for their chance to raise an internationally adopted  child. For those who have faced infertility, it’s the chance to raise any child.

And if I had enough strength, adopting internationally would have been my chance in passing a little bit of myself … that bit about being proud of my heritage while embracing the uncharted territories of being a first-generation immigrant … to my adoptive child.

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** Hubby was born in the Philippines and migrated to the U.S. at the age of five; effectively making him a “half-generation” immigrant. Of course, depending on what version of immigrant generations you go with, Hubby & I can be seen as 1.5- and second-generation immigrants. At least that’s what Wiki says … )

*** Well … okay, so I was born in the U.S. … but hopefully you understand what I mean.

8 Replies to “Thoughts on Adoption”

  1. Actually I think you are a First generation Philipino-American – since your parents were born in the Phillipines – you are the first generation born in the US. I consider hubby First too. The only reason I think of it this way is because my hubby always says he is a first generation Italian-American since his parents were born in Italy and immigated to the US in their 20s.

    When you have the time or interest how about another post on adoption – where you talk more about the strength/lack of, and your decision not to adopt, and maybe your hubby’s thoughts too? In our case it is simply because my husband won’t consider it – he’s too tied to his genetics. Sometimes I feel like I get the consequences of his genetic desires – and therefore remain without the opportunity to be a mother. Most of the time I’m okay with it, but once in a while I get pissed. If you want to share more about your discussions as a couple, I’d be curious. Thanks Em.

  2. Oh and I forgot to comment about the Russian situation – yes that is absolutely abhorrent what that adoptive mother did, and I hope she is prosecuted. You just don’t do that.

  3. The adoption story hasn’t ha a lot of coverage here in the UK where generally international adoption is far more difficult than it seems to be in the US but the facts seem shocking. I do think however there should be some mechanism for failed adoptions to be sorted out – children deserve to be in families that bond with them and this family clearly hadn’t with this child. A dreadful situation..

  4. I read about that failed adoption. And I have mixed feelings. You don’t just “return” a child like you’d return a dress that didn’t fit to the store. (And you don’t pay someone a few hundred bucks to do it for you.) At the same time, it’s true that some of these children develop behavioural issues while living in these institutions that adopting parents are just not prepared to deal with. There definitely needs to be more support for them.

    My dh is a first-generation Italian-Canadian. I can always see parallels whenever you write about trying to straddle two cultures!

  5. I always wondered whether adoption would be something H and I would consider as a means to build our family. Unfortunately, finances dictated early on that this would not likely work for us (while finances also dictated that we would pursue IVF at a certain clinic, regardless of where we’d prefer to go…). Anyhow, I cannot imagine being at the point of having a child in my home, in my life, and then just dropping them on a plane back to the motherland. That’s just wrong. And I hope the mother is appropriately penalized for the awfulness of her actions.

  6. Failed adoptions confuse me. Makes me wonder what people may have been thinking in the first place…but the its true that these kids can be severely affected by the very early moments of life in orphanages or with negligent parents…and the problematic behaviors don’t come out til later. I still think that adoption is forever…and that these people should definitely turn to others for support, whether its social services people, adoption specialists, other moms, other adoptive moms, their church—whoever. Otherwise, they only serve to perpetuate the trauma in the lives of these children…

  7. I have to tell you that I feel the exact same way about the strength needed in an adoption. I have watched and waited for my sister as she waited first for an international adoption that did not happen and now waits for a domestic adoption. I see her strength, I see it wean away sometimes. It hurts so much to see her struggle. I know I don’t have that strength. I wonder sometimes how you can after so many years of heartbreak. Choosing childfree also has a strength element to it too, and that is something never to forget.

    I wanted to tell you one more thing. I really enjoyed your Lent posts about your good deed for the day. I think you inspired me quite a bit to think about what I was doing to make this world just a little bit better place. I am glad you posted this on your blog. I know you didn’t seem like you thought it was the best idea in the end, but I think it was. 🙂

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