“Why did you choose to adopt from China?”
That’s like asking me how did I choose to marry “that guy” for my husband. Or why did we pick a basset hound over a poodle.
It’s more like China (i.e., international adoption) was chosen for us.
I don’t think most people wake up and decide to adopt. In my experience, it was a journey to get to this point of adopting, and deciding to adopt internationally from China. Had I never gone through infertility, surgeries, pregnancy losses, and finally having a successful pregnancy, my heart may not have been opened to adoption. But it was, and we are adopting from China.
“But there are plenty of kids in America who need homes.”
That is correct. There are lots of kids in America who need mommies and daddies. We were drawn to China because that’s what was put on our hearts.
In China, kids are abandoned. Like left on the street abandoned with nothing, abandoned. The Chinese government created baby safety islands because of the abandonment crisis. Children in China are abandoned mainly because there is a special need that the parents cannot afford to care for, a special need they do not want to care for, or because they had a daughter and wanted to have a son (although China has relaxed its one-child policy).
Things to know when considering international adoption
Be prepared to wait. And then wait some more. In China, through our program, if you want a healthy child, the wait is seven years. That doesn’t mean your child will be 7 years old. It means there is a seven-year paperwork backlog for people desiring a healthy child (no identifiable special needs).
Paperwork. There’s lots of it. And a lot of it is redundant. You also have to complete FBI fingerprinting, do immigration paperwork, have a social worker conduct a home study and/or updates as needed, and get most forms notarized and select documents state authenticated.
Be ready to make a quick decision with minimal information. Special needs in China are not the same as special needs in the USA. Special needs in China can mean a corrected cleft palate or a missing limb. There are different levels of special needs. You will receive paperwork on your referred child, but it may not be current or inclusive.
Most families in an international adoption program have referral paperwork from the adopting country reviewed by an international adoption clinic in the U.S. These special-trained physicians can translate most of the information you do have, advise on questions to ask to receive more specific details, and look at pictures to identify any undiagnosed issues. It’s proactive to understand your prospective adopted child’s health issues or needs so you can research long-term care needs and schedule appointments for when you have your child home.
Get comfortable talking about your sex life with strangers. Yes, your social worker will want to know frequency, level of intimacy, and all kinds of other inside details about your home life. This is necessary to make sure the home the adopted child is coming to is a stable and loving one. Consider the trauma the orphan has already been through: losing his/her parents, heritage, family ties, oftentimes records of birthdays, etc. It’s such a harrowing time for the orphan, so being uncomfortable with sharing all details of your life becomes minimal when compared to the real losses the adoptee will experience their entire life.
Yes, there are children everywhere that need homes. China just happens to be one of them. It’s an action of faith when a family decides to adopt. You’re not rescuing a child. They don’t choose to be abandoned or to be born to parents who cannot care for them. But adoption can have beautiful outcomes for families.