Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Why Adoption?

Working in the School of Education at a university provides me with great access to future teachers. Because Elise has an IEP (she has a speech disorder and gross motor delays), I’m often asked to talk to students in our Special Education program to give them a parent’s perspective of having a child with special needs and the IEP process.

Inevitably when I talk to these classes , I always get questions related to adoption. I’m pretty open about most things and I see this as an opportunity to increase the awareness of adoption-related issues in a group of future teachers.

I talk to them about issues and terminology we've already dealt with such as:

  • she's of the Asian race and not an Oriental thing
  • we are her REAL family and Carson is her REAL brother
  • yes she knows she's adopted (honest to God, we were asked that last year)
  • her speech disorder has nothing to do with her being Chinese and, no, we don't know if it's genetic
  • she does NOT SPEAK Chinese because she's being raised in an English speaking home

Along with specific questions about adopted children, I typically get the question “why did you decide to adopt from China.” Because these are students asking questions with good intentions, I cut them more slack than I would strangers asking the question (yes, we've had complete strangers ask the same types of questions). But, I’m always surprised by the questions. I never got the question “why did you decide to get pregnant” when I had Carson.

So, here’s why we decided to adopt from China:

The short answer…that happened to be where our daughter was born and living at the time. :)

Here's the longer answer…(because folks don’t always “get” the short answer):

I always thought that if I had kids I would adopt or foster kids. I never really had any desire to be pregnant and give birth. Frankly, it seemed pointless to me since there were so many unwanted children in the world (I had a sister die at birth when I was 4...maybe that had something to do with not wanting kids?!?). But, it took Perry a bit longer to be comfortable with adoption, he really wanted a biological child and I had to respect that desire.

When it came down to the actual "starting of a family", it wasn’t quite as easy for us as it seemed. We were fortunate that I had a job at the time with lots of flexibility and great insurance that covered infertility (something virtually unheard of at the time). We also had no money in those days! :) So, we felt the path for us at the time was clearly the infertility route. As that path became longer and more emotionally painful, we started exploring adoption and Perry became more comfortable with the idea. We had set a limit on how many more cycles we’d pursue the infertility treatments before turning to adoption. On our next to last cycle that we had agreed to pursue, we got pregnant.

Once we decided to start a family, we had decided we wanted 2 kids. So, after Carson was born and we decided it was time to expand our family, adoption made the most sense. It was in no means a 2nd choice in any way for us. Our hearts were open to it, we’d been blessed with one child already, we had no interest in pursuing the infertility treatments again (my heart goes out to anyone on that path…not an easy road...give any friends you have going through that lots of extra love, they need it), so the logical path was adoption.

So why international adoption?

When Carson was born, a co-worker adopted domestically at the same time. He and I would swap baby stories. A few months in, a glitch in their paperwork was discovered and they had to hand their baby over to a birth father who had no interest in raising a child (but his parents did). While you hear stories like that are few and far between, it hit too close to home for us and we decided to go international. Doesn't happen to everyone and there are wonderful domestic adoption stories, but we were clearly being led in a different direction. I believe all things happen for a reason and that experience gently nudged us to consider looking abroad.

I can’t imagine 2 more perfect children for our family. I’m forever grateful that I experienced different paths to parenthood for my children. There is no difference in the end result…you love them the same no matter how they come to you. Each path had their benefits and pitfalls. No one path was “easy” in any sense of the word. I experienced the same joy and emotions the first moment each child was placed in my arms (and I looked about as crappy for each one after a 14 hour labor for one and a trip across the world for the other!)


Sandra said...

I love this post and I TOTALLY get it :-)

Tammie said...

Beautiful. Perfectly said. And, yes, I get it.bkmvvjro

PIPO said...

LOVE this post! Thanks for sharing it.