Sunday, July 16, 2006
Once I decided that adoption was the way to build my family, I started getting questions about why I chose China instead of domestic adoption or another country.
Domestic adoption is, for the most part, an open adoption process in which the birthmother chooses a family to raise the child she is relinquishing. This means that I'd have to market myself in order to convince someone that I'm the best choice.
I felt like my single status could work against me in that respect because if I were choosing a family for my child I'd certainly choose a mom AND a dad. Ideally, that is how I'd like to raise my own children, but my life's path did not take me in that direction.
There's also no timeline for this process. I could wait on a list for years hoping that someone would choose me. Then there is the risk that the birthmother could change her mind. I'd be devastated, as are all families that are faced with this situation. I wasn't willing to take that risk.
Why not adopt a child from foster care then? Simple. I want a baby. There are not many babies available for adoption from foster care. But you also run into the same problem as above. I know a woman who fostered four different times expecting to be able to adopt the child. The child was placed back with biological family every time. Again, I knew that I could not get attached to a child only to have them taken away.
So why China and not one of the other many countries open to international adoption? China has one of the most reputable, well organized adoption programs out there. There are strict guidelines and usually no risk of corruption.
China is known to have very healthy babies. While the resources are limited at the orphanage, they do care about the children and do the best they can. The horror stories about babies left lying on their back in a crib for 6 months with no physical contact are associated with other countries, but generally not China.
The fees associated with China adoption are also lower than most other countries. With the China process, you wait for a referral and then travel to get your baby. Some other countries, Guatemala for example, you get a referral quickly but then wait quite awhile to travel. This would be hard for me, to already know who my daughter is and not be able to go get her for some time.
I also have compassion for the women faced with the difficult choice of having to "abandon" their babies. In 1980, the Chinese government began the "One Child Policy" to control over- population. Because historically and culturally, the people of China value boys over girls, that means that almost all the abandoned children are girls.
China has no social security system, so in their old age, the people rely on their sons to provide for them. Their daughters marry and then take care of the in-laws. To ensure your survival, you NEED a son. If you are a rural farmer, you NEED a son to work in the fields. The Chinese people also are a very patriarchal society. Their ancestry and lineage are very important, so they NEED a son to carry on the family name and history. Many Chinese people want to raise daughters, but when you are limited to only one child, you can see how with this way of thinking, so many girls end up in orphanages.
There are a few exceptions to the one child rule. Minorities are not bound by the rule. Rural farmers are allowed to try again for a boy if the first born is a girl. Also if both parents come from a one child family, they are allowed to have a second child. These are two of the reasons, according to statistics, most abandoned girls are second born daughters.
Some who don't understand these concepts have great contempt for the women who abandon their children. I don't. I understand the risk they take in going to a crowded public place and leaving the baby, wrapped snuggly in a blanket, while they hide and wait somewhere close, watching, waiting for someone to find her. There is severe punishment for abandoning a baby.
Some Chinese women think the alternative is the easier choice. I'm grateful to my daughter's birthmother for choosing to give her a chance at a better life. I like to believe that this was a great act of love shown to this girl that she longed to keep, but was forced to give away.
I think we sometimes take for granted living in this great country of freedom and don't understand the way the rest of the world lives. I like to think of myself as a strong, independant woman. I can't imagine what it would be like to be forced into the decisions the women of China have to make.
And that is part of what led me to China. As a strong, independent woman, I want to raise my daughter to be the same way and to show her that she has just as much value as a boy.