I feel like I'm coming out of the closet....I am not an "adoption advocate."
There. It's been said. I'm hoping my followers don't all drop and run en masse.
How I realized this?
Yesterday I set up a coffee date with a woman from my church who is also adopting from Ethiopia. We were connected by email but haven't met in person yet.
Almost immediately after setting up our date I began having anxiety about what kind of path our conversation will take.
I realized I am not an adoption advocate because as I had mixed feelings it dawned on me that I am not the go-to girl for all things adoption related. I don't encourage others to adopt. I get nervous around people who I sense are part of the movement to get every Christian to adopt an orphan in need. I don't advertise about our adoption. I don't get excited when I hear that there is an adoption movement or a church starting an adoption ministry.
I am cynical I suppose.
I have read a lot of blogs and websites that present false images about adoption. I detest the adoption agency ads with photos of smiling healthy babies with taglines like "I am waiting for you to come and find me." Schmarmy. And really totally untrue in my experience.
Haven't we all learned from our adoption experiences that these days there are very few reputable programs that actually have healthy infants "waiting" for families. In fact, I can't think of one. There may be healthy babies waiting out there but they are not immediately available. China - 4/5 year wait now?
Ethiopia - most large agencies are 1-2 year wait.
Russia - majority of kids have special needs or at high risk.
Korea - phasing out healthy infant referrals for mostly special needs infant referrals.
Haiti- 2 years (although I have heard reports of 3+ years.)
So I have a hard time with the happy, warm, fuzzy belief that there are beautiful orphanages tragically filled with healthy infants who all happen to be double orphans waiting for us adoptive families.
Reality is that many kids who are adopted have one living parent. Reality is that most agencies have 90% of adoptive families registering for healthy infants while 90% of their immediately available children are older or have special needs.
That is a huge reality gap pertaining to adoption. So I can't be an adoption advocate unless I can be real with people and unless people get real.
Here is my personal reality check -those of us who want infants or toddlers (with or without special needs) are adopting to expand our families. That is the reality. I don't know anyone who is adopting an infant or toddler to "save an orphan" and quite honestly that would not be an appropriate reason to adopt anyway.
Here is the world's reality check - the vast majority of kids in critical need of and available for immediate adoption are older kids. Kids with special needs and long-term disabilities. I could be an advocate for adoption if both of these realities were part of the adoption discussion. If these were things that every adoptive parent understood or wanted to understand.
But I'm not sure that is the case right now. Many do understand. And many do not. And holding adoption pep rallies where realities are not presented are not my cup of tea.
You can see why I am nervous about coffee with my new aquaintance. I hate being a downer. But I hate unrealistic adoption small talk....
While I am on my soap box here I am going to say one more thing that may cause the last few of you reading to officially drop me.
I don't like the word orphan. There. I have said it.
I don't know a single child who would want to be called an orphan or who would consider it anything other than a discriminating and negative label.
And when we talk about "143 million orphans" in the world we are talking about children who have lost one or both parents. Vast majority living with a surviving parent. I just think it does injustice to the reality of the situation and diminishes the importance of that surviving parent.
I hope you don't all leave me or hate me. I have learned a LOT by reading adoption advocates' blogs. I have had my heart softened and prepared by adoption advocates. I have had deep and sustaining conversations with other mothers who have or are coming to these same conclusions. And I have been encouraged and loved and supported by people who would not agree with me and whom I would hate to alienate.
But I just can't find it in myself to be an adoption advocate. And I think that's ok. I am not anti-adoption. If I were, I would not be adopting! I have mulled it all over quite a lot and decided that I fall in the middle somewhere. Pro-adoption for kids that have been relinquished and are in need. Whose surviving parent made an educated choice or who do not have a willing surviving relative. But anti-adoption when it is provided or promoted as the only, or even the "best" answer. The be all, end all.
- Me. Us. She.
- J and I have been married for almost 15 years. We have shared many adventures and a lot of watershed moments. In 2009 I began blogging and in 2010 we adopted our daughter from Ethiopia. In March of 2012 we began the process to adopt a little boy from Haiti. This blog follows the many twists and turns on the road to our two children and beyond.
- ▼ February (8)