This is something we are passionate about as a couple. Adoption has shaped our family, changed how we view the world, and blessed our lives in so many ways. However, it doesn’t define us so we don’t have what I call an adoption focused blog, or a huge focus on it in our lives. Adoption is a small but significant part of what makes up our family. Small, because we usually forget that three of our children are adopted. They are a natural extension of ourselves, and that deep connection is the exact same as any other family’s. Significant, because of the obvious racial and cultural differences.
We aren’t one of those families who promotes the idea of rescuing orphans. Yes, there is a huge orphan crisis in the world- millions upon millions worldwide, and it’s a blessing when they’re adopted into loving families. However I don’t believe it’s the best solution to the situation, and at most it only makes a small dent toward one. The best thing is always for a child to remain with their birth family, regardless of most circumstances. When that cannot happen, it’s best to at least keep them in their birth country. Leaving a birth family AND a culture is a double whammy on children- we know firsthand the sadness and trauma kids go through, even if it appears they have a “better life.” It’s easy for Westerners to look at a poverty-filled country and believe the child is better off here, but try to imagine saying that about an impoverished American child being uprooted to a wealthy Ugandan, Chinese, or Ukranian family. There is grief and loss all around, and whether or not they remember their birth country or family members, there is trauma. We looked at adoption as simply a way to grow our family. There were and are children in need of families, and we were equally in need of children. We did not rescue them, they rescued us and enriched our lives in ways that transcend anything we could ever give them.
Sorin and Liam are biological, from Jill’s first marriage. After struggling a short while with infertility issues, we decided to go the adoption route instead of fertility meds and/or in-vitro. We don’t place a whole lot of value on biological, genetic connections, so that didn’t matter to us. It was an easy choice. We knew if we opted to adopt, the right children would find their way to us- OUR children.
#1 Sky Bear Born September of 2001 in the mountain village of Yepocapa Chimaltenango, Guatemala and came home February of 2003 (17 months on Gotcha Day)
#2 (Andrew) Prasad Born February of 2000 in Nagpur, India, and came home January of 2007 (almost 7 years old on Gotcha Day)
#3 Amelie Lin Sosena Born September of 2008 in Bahir Dar, Ethiopia, and came home September of 2009 (11 months old on Gotcha Day)
We always say that the only planned adoption was Sky’s. Despite that, we were surprised to end up in Guatemala for his adoption. Our search started out in India, and we were originally placed with Prasad when he was just two years old. That adoption fell through after a few weeks due to a bureaucratic technicality (we hadn’t been married long enough). There was a lot of grief on our end because Prasad just felt like OUR child.. we were right! It felt like an adoption miscarriage on emotional, spiritual and psychological levels. Shortly afterward, we ended up seeing Sky’s picture and we both just knew he was our son… he came home just six months later. Prasad was re-discovered four years later in an adoption flier, and five months later he came home. A record-breaking time frame for Indian adoptions! We were “done” at that point, or so we thought. Jill felt a surprisingly strong pull toward a baby girl during the Fall of 2008. We say it was an unplanned adoption pregnancy. Coincidentally, this was the exact time that Amelie was born. They put the wheels in motion to find her, and she came home just nine months later.
Why did we adopt internationally? We get asked this a lot, but it’s just how things turned out. We began our process in 2001 with the domestic foster care system, and didn’t get the sense that it was the right avenue for us. Jill had done some brief fostering in her previous marriage with the intent to adopt, but found the system to be difficult and heart wrenching. We followed our hearts, first to India because it’s a country very dear to our hearts. After that, the process was pretty much out of our hands. After three adoptions, we can say with certainty that we do not choose our children. Just as with any biological child, there is another force at work. We love the international component of our family, and appreciated experiencing three different continents, but it was not planned that way.
Which agencies did we use? Sky’s small agency has retired, which is too bad because it was excellent. Prasad’s large agency called Special Additions was great throughout the adoption process but horrible post-placement, and the orphanage was even worse. Amelie’s smaller agency, Adoption Avenues, was very good and the orphanage was excellent. Keep in mind that every family’s experience can be quite different. The most important thing is to do a lot of research and inquiry before choosing an agency. If anyone interested in adoption would like to ask questions, feel free to contact us: firstname.lastname@example.org
Is adoption green? Yes, it is! That’s obvious, isn’t it? When people choose to adopt existing children who are in need of families, domestic or internationally, they are not contributing to population growth, not adding to the drain on fuel, utilities and precious resources. This is not why we chose adoption, but others may want to consider this. We do feel better knowing we made a choice that just happened to be green.
How do we feel about adopting trans-racially? We live in a very diverse, progressive, and accepting community. Because of this, we don’t encounter the difficulties (racial prejudice and standing out in crowds) like other families in more “white” or conservative communities would encounter. We’re very comfortable where we are, so we are extremely comfortable as a family. However, we do encounter comments that Jill posted about here if you’re interested in learning more about adoption etiquette. Our kids attend schools that are mostly white, but have a good mix of other races as well (probably 15-20% non-white). We love our varying colors as a family, and discuss it openly almost every day. Our kids are proud of how unique we are as a family. We’ve learned a great deal about race, what white privilege really means, and the importance of acknowledging and even celebrating differences. By the same token, we point out far more similarities that we all share. I swear, it’s as if all the kids are biological because we share so many of the same traits. Adoptive families will often tell you how eerie that is.