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China Adoption

What You Didn’t Know About China Adoption.

Maybe you aren’t surprised that a grump like me is irritated that every day or week or month is named after some stupid special interest. But November is Adoption Awareness Month, and that shuts me up because this is my special interest.

I have two daughters adopted from China, Melanie (Cool and Kristen (almost 4). November is a good time to answer two questions many wonder about but are too polite to ask, important questions if you are considering adoption.

First, you might wonder if you bond to and love an adopted child the same way as a biological child. Many believe adoption is “easier” than childbirth, and that genetics make you love a biological child differently than an adopted child, but they are wrong on both counts.

Just like pregnancy, the adoption process has its very own emotional roller coaster ride into and out of the clouds, with stress points that make wives a little bit crazy (husbands, too, but we’re less likely to admit it).

Just like with a bio child, the invisible love tendrils slowly reach out from the child and from the parent to intertwine in an unbreakable bond. Not long after the adoption is done you come to the startling realization you love your child more than your own life, just like bio kids. As one friend puts it, “Some of my children are adopted, but I forget which ones.”

I know, this is a sappy way for a man to talk, especially for a grump and in public to boot, but it takes some sap to tell the truth about adoption.

The false notion that adopted children are almost, but not completely, part of the family permeates our culture. Reporters repeatedly distinguish between biological and adopted children even when it adds nothing to the story.

The day Bob Hope died, a reporter noted he had four adopted children, and wondered aloud in the same sentence whether there would be disputes over the estate.

Think of it this way. Melanie and Kristen are our daughters, no less than your bio children. Adoption does not define them; it is just the way they joined our family at one point, and it is not possible that we could love them more had they been born to us.

Second, I am sure many people wonder, “Why would you travel halfway around the world to adopt from China — twice! — when there are kids here in America who need homes?” It’s a fair question to ponder.

More than 20,000 U.S. families adopt from other countries each year, many because the U.S. adoption system discourages them.

The good news is some families have success stories of domestic adoption. I have friends with children adopted here in the U.S., and I am delighted the system worked for them.

The bad news is there are too many domestic adoption horror stories. The U.S. public system of foster care and adoption often resembles a train wreck that traps many kids and traumatizes them just when they need loving care the most.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has over 500,000 kids in the foster care system, average age 10.6 years, and about 125,000 await adoption. Kids are placed in foster care when they are abused or the parents are unable or judged unfit to care for them. Substance abuse is a factor in 75 percent of cases, according to HHS.

Abusive and frequently addicted parents are given “one more last chance” again and again and again, with the child torn back and forth in their very own nightmare. In a few cases they are abused in the foster home intended to protect them. Legal decisions to terminate parental rights and place the child for adoption come only after a long and torturous struggle. By then the unfortunate child is likely to have serious behavioral problems of their own.

Like most who seek adoption, we weren’t prepared to bring difficulties into our family; we just wanted children.

Private adoption of a newborn from a willing birth mother works for some but has its own challenges. If the birth mother selects the family for her child, older couples like us are passed over and the wait could be, well, forever. After paying substantial fees, the birth mother can reverse her decision to give up the child.

Some favor “open adoption” where the birth mother maintains contact with the child, and some grumps like me fear the interference in the parent-child relationship. Long after the adoption a birth father can surface to claim parental rights in a legal battle he just might win. We’ve all seen high-profile cases on TV with families torn apart because state laws treat children a bit like property, protecting the rights of biological parents at the expense of adoptive parents and the child.

By contrast, some countries make adoption far less difficult. China’s one-child policy keeps orphanages full, and their adoption system works in a predictable, reliable manner without corruption. The adoption is legally complete during the trip to China, and there is virtually a zero chance of birth parent challenge. Costs are reasonable and the kids are beautiful.

Guatemala, Kazakhstan, Russia and other countries have problems that create orphans, and they have foreign adoption programs that work.

Personally, I’m grateful to China because our life would be incomplete without Melanie and Kristen as part of our family.

Nevertheless, I look forward to the day when we clean up the foster care system and revise state adoption laws in our own country to encourage instead of discourage adoption. We should do a better job of uniting children who need homes with families that want children, right here in the USA.

Meanwhile, thousands of American families will continue to adopt abroad every year, because they don’t want problems; they just want the love and happiness of a child in their family.

This article was provided by Terry Garlock from The Citizen.

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