Tuesday, March 28, 2006
Adopting Internationally- Our Choice
Sometimes people think of international adoption as a last resort if you are unable to have biological children or haven’t been successful adopting locally. Many people who choose to adopt from overseas and share this news with family, friends and acquaintances are not met with a warm response.

We have had all sorts of responses to our adoption plan announcement, such as; silence with a forced- “That’s great. Why, do you want to do that?” to,” I could never do that.” to, “I would never even consider doing something like that.” to, “How could you really love somebody else's kid?” to, “Why don’t you just adopt a baby from the United States?” to “You are young…you need to just have your own kids.” to, “You know, those orphan kids have a lot of problems. You should be careful.” to, “Adopted kids just can’t fit into a family. If the genetic tie isn’t there, than the child will always seem foreign.” etc.

I have a hard time not getting angry at these types of comments. I have to hold my tongue many times in order to resist a defensive argument. People need to understand that international adoption is not a last resort. It is a choice that gives hope to a child. It gives children a place to belong, a place where they matter. It gives love and attention to a starving soul. It brings added personality, joy and love in to our homes. We give to them, but they give even more to us. Yet, we find ourselves increasingly trying to defend our choice in the face of ongoing criticism.

This is the sad state of affairs lately in the face of those that are ignorant of the process or those who have gotten false information from the media or other sources. However, the truth is that if international adoption ended because bad press closed down country programs, or because of a growing indifference, fear, lack of interest or understanding among people, it would sentence millions of kids to grow up languishing in under-funded orphanages or life on the streets, with future prospects of drug dependency, prostitution, crime and prison. Growing up in an orphanage is harmful to children’s physical, intellectual and emotional development. Even the nicest, well-funded institutions for orphans do not offer the attention, care, nourishment and development that a forever family does.

I wonder why there are just handfuls of us who are grateful and passionate about investing our lives and time into these kids and recognize how valuable and important this is in the world. We need to get the word out. I think that it is important that we all share our personal adoption stories with anyone who will listen. Through posting our positive stories on the internet and letting our friends, family and acquaintances know of our wonderful experience with our children, we can make a difference. The more people hear about our joy in this choice, the more others might change their views. As more positive stories spread there might be more people who choose to adopt and more people to support programs that help these children.


Anonymous Anonymous said...
I have received some of those same remarks from family and friends. People just don't understand, they can't. I believe that God called us to this adoption. He did not call my relative or my co-workers, He called me! I am blessed to carry out this purpose in my life. I pray that everyone will realize that we are ALL called to care for orphans, widows and strangers in some way. For some that means adoption, for some it means prayer support, for some financial support, etc. Everyone has a different purpose, but that makes the quilt of life all the more beautiful.

Kay B

Blogger Starfish said...
I recently heard a speaker talk about this exact subject. It was very helpful to get suggestions on what to say when those kinds of questions are asked. While I agree that it is important to spread the word about how wonderful adoption is, I wonder where that starts and teaching people common sense and manners begins! My mom tells me I better start practicing my standard non-confrontational answers now.

Blogger Margaret said...
Good points, Jen. There are a lot of people that just don't get it. I've gotten the ever popular "but you're single... you might meet someone yet." Grrr. I've had a hard time getting people to understand that by adopting I'm not closing a door on maybe getting married someday.

Anonymous Leggy said...
Wow- I honestly can't believe people would say such stuff (particularly that last comment about needing to be of the same genes)- ugh!

I do feel that its only been in the last few months that I've come to see adoption as a wonderful choice rather than the option of last resort. I'm just hung up on how hard and complicated and overwhelming it is. Every time I get comfortable with it, another hurdle seems to be thrown in the way and its a bit daunting. So now I'm wondering if I should go back to IF crap (which has its own set of issues but at least they are issues I know). Its a hard road to pick, but for people to try to talk you out of something you are so clearly committed to is wrong and insensitive.

Blogger Tricia said...
We've been fortunate enough to have pretty much 100% positive remarks from my friends & family members. Many have said, "wow, we've talked about doing that after having 2 children of our own" or "that's very noble of you". When asked why we are going down this path, the only way I can describe our choice is by saying, "You know how you've always wanted to have children by getting pregnant? Well we've always wanted to start our family by traveling to Russia."

Blogger Elle said...
Telling our stories is the first step to raising adoption awareness. Setting the example of healthy families is of the utmost importance. I realize that more and more as I travel through this journey.

As an adoptee you would not believe how much I am like my parents. Genetics is not 100% of our personalities. I love to hear the stories of people who choose adoption rather than "adoption choosing them." ie. the last resort method. The phrase "turning to adoption" is like nails on a chalk board to me.

Steph - tell your mom to jump off a cliff. Call people on their stupidity. They may be offending you, why not offend them right back?

Blogger Rhonda said...
You know, when people say stuff I try to judge where their heart is at...sometimes people mean well and they just don't word it correctly. I try hard not to overreact.

HOWEVER, when I get comments like "oh I could never do something that" or "Why don't you just adopt from the U.S.?"...well that's just rude and condescending. Then I get rude back. When people say they could never adopt from overseas, I just ask innocently "Why not? Wouldn't you want to give an orphan a home?" HAHA. All of a sudden, they're in the hot seat.

Blogger 6blessings said...
We've met with a lot of questions from people. Obviously, we already have a large family(4 kids). We get asked why we would ever want more kids, are we crazy, why not just have another one, etc. We have also had a lot of people say, "Why do you feel you need to go overseas? There's kids right here in the US that need love too." Yes, we agree that there is. However, that is not what we're called to. I've gotten to where I slip in Russian orphan statistics when I see the conversation leading in a downhill direction. People are always amazed at the numbers and quiet down pretty quickly when they can't argue with the need.

Blogger Liv said...
I agree Jen. I feel like I'm sitting on a huge idea in the way of advocacy, I just can't seem to get it formed. I think that adoption needs an advocate. I had encountered those comments too. I will add one more, "I hope you don't one of those Chernobyl babies." I didn't know whether to punch them or laugh in their face.

Blogger Trina said...
I agree Jen. You have enlightened me so much! I have really enjoyed learning about this process. I think that you are very special for pursuing this. I dont know if we could ever afford to do this. Having 5 children already. I would love to have a little girl as well, but I feel blessed too. May God watch over and protect you on this powerful journey.

BTW I am linking you if you dont mind.

Blogger Gaye & Andrew said...
We have gotten some of the same comments...my mom had a hard time with our choice, but now she is one of our biggest supporters. My dad grew up in an orphanage and it makes me sad when he tells the stories of his life growing up there.

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