Saturday, September 16, 2006

International Adoption. How others feel about it.

Now that the plans for our adoption are underway (and by that I mean we're getting married so we can put in our Notice of Intention to Adopt) we've started letting people know what is going on with us.

After reading lots of different forums, blogs and websites about the different reactions people have received throughout their own adoption process, I was particularly interested to see how others reacted to our own decision to adopt.

More particularly, what sort of reaction/concerns/issues/questions arise as a result.

So far, the people who know are our families, some close friends and a few work colleagues, along with the other adoptive parents on the yahoo groups we have joined.

Here are the Top 10 questions/concerns/responses of others :

  • "That's fantastic/wonderful/brilliant ... we're so happy for you."
  • "That's very noble."
  • "How long does the process take?"
  • "Adoption! I know a family who adopted from China {or somewhere else} ..."
  • "You aren't buying a baby, are you?"
  • "Are you able to meet the child before you adopt them?"
  • "Can't you have your own bio children?"
  • "You may get pregnant throughout the adoption process. It happens quite often."
  • "How long do you spend in China?"
  • "Are you concerned about the racism that still exists?"

I was really happy to see that all in all, people are really curious and very aware of what adoption involves. I don't mind if we're asked questions or people express their concerns to us. It shows that, to a large extent, people are concerned about us and, more importantly, about the child we will adopt and how this rather large step will affect all involved.

I thought it might be useful to answer these questions/concerns/statements for those who might be interested.

  • "That's fantastic/wonderful/brilliant ... we're so happy for you."
Thankyou! Your support and care are appreciated and will be much needed throughout our adoption process :) Our child is going to benefit greatly from such a lovely support network.
  • "That's very noble.
Not noble, from our perspective. Every child deserves parents that are able to care for them, give them safety, security and most of all, love. We also benefit by having this beautiful young child in our lives, whoever they may be.
  • "How long does the process take?"
From when you formally begin the process of adoption with the governmental department in your state, currently it is taking around 2 years until you travel to China to meet and bring home your child.
  • "Adoption! I know a family who adopted from China {or somewhere else} ..."
This is the one that makes me so happy that adoption of an international child is commonplace these days. The more acceptance there is of transracial families, the easier the adopted child's life will be from the viewpoint of acceptance in a largely caucasian society!
  • "You aren't buying a baby, are you?"
Sometimes this question comes up as a result of the high cost of international adoption. There are differing costs, depending on the country from which you're adopting, however all costs are an important part of the approval process. There are facets such as the homestudy (being approved by the Australian side of things to even be an appropriate family to adopt a child), medicals, police checks, seminars to attend, more medicals, updating documents that expire (overseas governments have their requirements that docs are at all times as recent as possible) -- and that is just a few things that the Australian government require you to do to be approved to adopt internationally to meet the "Hague Agreement" requirements.

Then you have the complation of more documents, notarization of all documents, application fees for the country of the child's origin to assess, review, translate your dossier and approve you to adopt from their country, match you with a child/children, medicals (child).

And your child isn't even home yet! After you are given "a referral" (a child/sibling group is referred to you for adoption) there are sponsorship costs for your child's care before you travel, more medicals to meet Australian requirements, immigration costs (for the child), visas, passports, donation to the orphanage (for most social welfare institutes in China, for example, this is the only way they have to keep the orphanage running, maintain, feed and clothe the children, attend to their medical needs and provide foster parents for some children), accommodation/translator and travel organiser/in-country flights when you go to bring home your child, airfares for the adoptive parents and a one-way ticket for your child ... as you can see, there is a lot involved.

  • "Are you able to meet the child before you adopt them?"
Adopting from China, as we are most likely to do, you do not meet your child before you are referred. China has a very organised process of matching a child with prospective parents. As a matter of fact, you are not allowed to go to China with the view to visiting an orphanage/social welfare institute if you are in the process of adoption from there. It discourages any potential "encouragement" from the adoptive parents to an orphanage. If you're found to be doing this, I imagine you would lose the ability to adopt from China - they have quite strict requirements with this sort of thing.
  • "Can't you have your own bio children?"
I guess we could, if we wanted to. I have PCOS (polycystic ovarian syndrome) which, I'm told, is quite common with women these days and they still have the ability to become pregnant. We have chosen not to go through the process of "prompting" a bio pregnancy. As we see it, each child deserves a family. If there are children in the world who would like a family, and if we are approved to adopt, then that is the better option for us!
  • "You may get pregnant throughout the adoption process. It happens quite often."
Yes, I guess that could happen ... whatever happens, we are quite involved (emotionally) with the process of adoption so it will still factor into our family plans.
  • "How long do you spend in China?"
Anywhere from 10 days to 14 days, depending on the province in China from which your child originates. For other countries, it varies quite widely. I don't know much about other countries requirements apart from that, to be honest.
  • "Are you concerned about the racism that can still exist in Australia?"
Yes, I guess I am. If it will upset our child, even in a small way, then naturally that's going to be a hard one to deal with emotionally. No-one wants their child to go through traumas! We intend to bring our child/children up to know how valued they are as a person, an individual with their own story - and value is not determined by the colour of your skin or what other people think of you or say about you. Whatever else faces us, we will deal with as a family.

Apologies for the reeeealy long post. I hope you enjoyed reading :)