Disclaimer: This is my impression of the world, not necessarily the facts
I know that most of the people reading this website come here for my wife’s insights, but today you will have to deal with the Dad’s perspective. Ren and I have been discussing the adoption a lot lately, which makes for some interesting conversations at the dinner table. I will get to my thoughts on this in a minute.
First a story from the kids:O is only 3 1/2, but he is beginning to grasp the importance of a family relationship. Yesterday he told us that he wanted to see his cousins in America, except that cousin Christian was going to be his new brother. This came on a day when O and Y were getting along, spreading the joy that comes from a life before school or work exists. Today O told me that he wants a baby sister. He’s heard his momma talk about us trying to adopt, something that I try not to bring up too often in front of him because he doesn’t understand the concept of waiting for months for something. My son reminded me that a big reason for having or adopting kids is to love. We want to love, nurture, and make our children part of a peaceful, civilized society.
This brings me to adoption. There is much about the adoption process that makes my heart hurt. In the Western world where abortion is common (200,000 in the UK last year), prospective parents often encounter obstacles in domestic adoptions (cost, long waits, birth parents who change their minds) so they often consider adopting outside of their own country. Why Western society has determined that adoption is secondary to abortion for the unwilling/unable mother I can’t really explain, but the results are clear. Many prospective parents who want to share their love with a child look to other avenues. To adopt an American baby it may take 2 years and cost $40,000 in expenses; while I may be able adopt an African or Asian child in half the time for half the money. As a prospective parent who doesn’t care about my child’s nationality or race, why wouldn’t I choose the child who others aren’t, the one that is there and waiting – as we are led to believe.
Here is the rub. Because adoption is not highly encouraged to the unwilling/unable mother in the West, the costs are increased throughout the international adoption community. Prospective parents are willing to pay a moderate to high agency fee so money is available and the opportunity for bad actors to enter the scene increases. As prospective adoptive parents, we are seeking to perform a relatively unselfish act and we may think that makes this process immune to the dark side of human behavior. NOT TRUE. An international adoption agency could say that their fee is $10,000 because they need to pay lawyer fees and support the orphanage, but how do I know that it doesn’t cost $3000 and somebody is pocketing the rest because we are willing to pay it to help our “orphaned” child come home? Do we have any real way of knowing what the people in an orphanage are doing when we live thousands of miles away and have never met them?
These last few weeks have been hard for me because I think to myself, “Self, what are you going to say to your daughter in 10 or 15 years when she asks about her birth parents?” I would like to be able to honestly say that her birth parents loved her but had no way to care for her in the 3rd world community where she was born so they decided to give her a chance for a better life. I do not want to have to tell her that we had some serious reservations about adopting her because she might have been bought or stolen from her birth parents, but we did it anyway because we were already in Vietnam and had spent $20,000. She’s better off with us than in an orphanage right? I wonder how my daughter would answer that in 15 years. Would she be resentful? Would all that love my son and I had hoped to share with her be turned into something else?
I don’t want to find out. That is why we will only bring a child home if we know her parents were unable to care for her, and everything was done the right way. There is too much money and not enough oversight in the world of private adoption agencies for me to think otherwise.