One of the best parts about my job is connecting and educating folks who are coming into this adoption world completely unsure about the process. I truly love talking with people who come to me with a clean slate, ready to take all this knowledge in! This is why I’m in the process of developing the international consulting program with Christian Adoption Consultants. There is a need for people to learn about what’s out there, and it needs to be with someone as unbiased as possible and able to share the information. And I hope that person is me because I’ve been doing it in a way less organized and formal way for years! Let’s all keep a good thought.
As I started to think about some of the themes I’m hearing over and over again from people, I realized they were very similar statements that mostly revolved around this sentiment, “We want to adopt so we can give a child in need a loving home and good family. We know there are millions of orphans out there and we want to help.” That’s a very good place to start. So we keep talking and uncovering and find out that the wait for a healthy child from China is 7 years (today, getting longer every day), that you can only adopt a single child from Colombia who is 8 years old or older, and that most of the countries you talked about adopting from when you were in your 20’s are, in fact, closed today. So the conversation continues, frustration and deflation ensues, and we then learn that perhaps you thought there was an orphan problem in this world and that you wanted to help a child and build your family (win/win in your head, right?) but now that we’re talking here you start to think that maybe there isn’t an orphan problem. But then you hear me say that there is an orphan problem. There is an orphan problem. But if there really is an orphan problem then why are most options closed and those that are open are incredibly difficult? Ah, thus is the crux of the problem.
The problem isn’t that there are not enough children out there without parents or people able to adequately care for them. The problem is there are not enough paperwork ready children who are available for international adoption. And the problem is that those countries who are closed for adoption are mostly closed due to another battle or negative sentiment with the United States, very little of it having to do with the actual orphaned child.
This weekend I was talking with a male friend of mine and he told me that word around the gay community is that Russia is closed for adoption because Putin is against gay marriage and has stated that he will not allow adoptions from any country that recognizes gay marriage. Yet, word around the adoption community is that Russia is closed because that woman sent her son back to Russia with a note on his backpack in 2011 and then that other woman in Montana wouldn’t allow the Russian officials to barge into her house (where many attachment disordered children reside) when they made an impromptu visit in 2012. Yet word around the political community is that the country closure is due in large part to President Obama signing a law in December 2012, The Maginitsky Act, which imposes some travel and financial restrictions on those abusing human rights in Russia. Hummm. That’s a real head scratcher isn’t it? What’s really the truth? I’m voting for the latter, but at any rate, none of the reasons really say anything like, Russia is closed for adoption because they have a shortage of children available for adoption because they are doing a ton of domestic adoptions and have some great resources in place for children with Down’s Syndrome and Fetal Alcohol Syndrome.
So that’s what we’re dealing with here, politics and a good old chest-thumping match. Whose in the numero uno spot for world superpower right now? And might that country be quickly rising to that spot because they rock in manufacturing and quick exports? They sure are! And I’ll tell you one thing, they sure don’t want their biggest export to be their children. So they are controlling that number, preparing fewer and fewer healthy children for adoption every month and making people wait an excruciating amount of time to welcome their precious bundle of joy into their lives.
But we’re talking about children here, not an under-mount, stainless steel sink from Kohler.
I’m really not trying to all gloom and doom today, I’m just trying to be factual and help give the other side of this coin to those of you who haven’t thought about things this way. There are quite a few positives that have come out of this too, honestly. When international adoptions seem bleak, that can only be positive for domestic adoption. There are people who perhaps where adopting internationally because they were terrified of being chosen by birth parents and having them change their mind before the adoption was finalized, who now are giving domestic adoption a second glance. Perhaps there are people who are more aware of this issue and are sponsoring a child or a family in an impoverished country because international adoption isn’t an option in that country. Perhaps there are more people who are opening their home to foster children while they continue to wait their 3 years for their Ethiopia adoption to come to fruition. Perhaps there are other couples who were able to save up more money, so as to finance less, as they continue to hope and pray that Vietnam opens again soon and they will be super financially stable by the time the wee one comes to them. And perhaps there are others (let’s call them Brian and Nikki Pauls for illustrative purposes) who may be adopting a visually impaired 10-year-old from China who might not have considered that if healthy child adoptions in China, or Vietnam, or Timbuktu were booming.