To Love a Rose: An Ethiopian Adoption Journal

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Making the Right Decision

With 2010 fast approaching, many adoption advocates have been encouraging those of us who are contemplating adoption, as well as those who have already adopted, to contact our state's representatives and Senators to encourage them to vote in favor of keeping the current tax credit for adoptive parents that is set to expire on January 1st in only a couple short months.

I have been doing my part to spread the word to those around me; and I also contacted Missouri's politicians, including Senator Claire McCaskill.  Surprisingly, she e-mailed me back with some really kind words about adoption; however, something she said really bothered me, "1,800 kids" in Missouri are awaiting adoption while "over 9,600" are in foster care.


This is Missouri alone!  Multiply that times 50 states (many of which probably have even more children awaiting adoption/in foster care) and suddenly you are looking at a staggering amount of American children who have no homes, no families.  I instantly started thinking, "Are we making the right decision?"  When we chose international adoption to start our family, we did so under the advice of many couples who had suffered through botched adoptions right here in our own country - children taken back by their (often inadequate or abusive) biological families, pregnant mothers who "changed their minds", courts siding again and again with a verdict of "biological is best".

It was all too much to hear let alone contemplate enduring.  I couldn't imagine bringing a child into our home and caring for them and loving them only to have them yanked away from me.  It would just be too painful to even imagine.

With international adoption, the adoptive parents can have much more confidence in the process of bringing their child home.  Most of this is due to the fact that adoptions abroad are finalized.  The biological parents are often not even known, let alone involved in the process of their child being adopted.  In many cases, especially in Ethiopia, the child is a true orphan, often due to diseases such as AIDS taking their parents' lives.  This is different than in countries like China where many "orphans" are not truly orphaned (as in their parents are deceased), but rather that they were abandoned by parents who could not afford to care for them or that they were not the desired gender (ie: they are female).

Overall, when adopting from overseas, parents don't have to worry about their children being taken from them or the biological parents (if alive) even being able to find them  let alone trying to contact their child.  This is good and bad, in my opinion (after all, I have a mother who was adopted who searched her whole life to find her biological mother and father, only to discover that her mother was foreign and had passed away before she had a chance to meet her, and to get absolutely no information on her father).

All things considered, I looked at international adoption as a way to ensure that our child would truly be ours, no strings attached.  Even though there are health and travel and safety concerns connected with Ethiopian adoption, somehow they paled in comparison to the possibility of having our child taken away from us.

So, why did the news of the children waiting in my own state bother me so much?  Why was I suddenly questioning our decision to adopt from abroad?

To make matters even more confusing, my mother was visiting us when she received a phone call from her best friend in Iowa (I'll call her "Aunt D").  Aunt D works in childcare both out of her home and at the church that she has attended with my parents for almost 30 years.  My youngest sister had recently accompanied my mother to Iowa to help with the churches' vacation Bible study, working with the toddlers.

They had come back with lots of photos of the adorable little kids doing their projects, learning Bible verses, and making and eating sloppy snacks - precious.  One little girl, they called their "little bird".  "Bird" was notably small for her age of nearly two, she hardly spoke, and was always poorly dressed and in need of a clean diaper.  Needless to say, she was adorable, and everyone involved thought she was so cute.

Which was why my mom was so disturbed when Aunt D called while she was visiting us here in Missouri.  It turns out that "Bird's" mom is a junkie.  Not only that, but she recently dropped Bird off at one of Aunt D's friends who lives in the same town as her who also works in childcare and had not come back - it had been three days.

Even worse, when Bird showed up at this lady's house, her diaper had not been changed in probably three days; and it was suspected that she had not been fed in as many days as well.  I was instantly heartbroken.  Aunt D went on to say that Bird had been passed on to local authorities to be put up for adoption, but that her young mother (I have no idea where her father is in all of this) had suddenly reappeared and was demanding an open adoption.

This was just one more thing making me feel guilty about my decision to adopt from Ethiopia, when right here in front of me, not but 600 miles away was a child in desperate need of a safe and loving home.  Bird was not a statistic or photo in a pamphlet or on an infomercial, she is a real-life child that was close enough for me to drive to, to take home with me.

My mind was racing...should we go get her?  Is this a sign from God?  Is Bird supposed to be our daughter?  What's the right answer?  Oh, how I wished God would just audibly speak to me and tell me what to do!

After talking to Dear Husband about the situation, I just couldn't help but burst into tears.  I felt as though everything I'd been thinking and planning was wrong.  I felt so guilty.  How could I possibly abandon all of these children in America by choosing to go elsewhere to adopt?  I felt extreme guilt.  I felt selfish.

Dear Husband kept telling me that there is not "right" and "wrong", only what is right for us and our family at the time that we are making the decision.  While I know he's right, I still feel guilty.  I still question whether or not we're making the right decision.  I've actually started looking into domestic adoption more to become better educated on the process.  I have no idea if we're making the right decision, I don't even know if there is a "right decision"; I only know what seems to be "right" for us at this moment.  I truly wonder what God has in store for our future...

Wondering and Praying,