Thursday, January 25, 2007

"Saving" Lives

It's funny how a handful of threads go through adoption lists over and over. The boy/girl debate...the "to circumcise or not to circumcise" debate...the debate over whether or not we are "saving" children or simply being selfish and adding to our families through adoption. The last has been a topic of conversation on an Ethiopia list as of late. And one person hit the nail on the head today---WHY DOES IT HAVE TO BE EITHER/OR?????

Adoption can't be so one-sided. Nobody should adopt JUST because they want to "save" a child. In the same vein, I don't think someone should adopt a child internationally (and especially inter-racially) if they JUST want to have another child. You don't just adopt a child--you adopt the country and the culture and that child's life BEFORE your family.

We adoptive families must carefully consider ALL of our motives before moving forward to adopt. And it's okay to consider that we may, in fact, be saving a child's life by adopting. Hopefully we all really try to be open to adopting a child with special needs. But it's also okay to request "healthy infant, as young as possible" when you feel that is best for your family! It's okay to adopt simply because you don't wish to add another child in this world when there are already so many here that need families. I think the only ingrediant that is a "must" when adopting is that a family really MUST want to add another child to their family! Don't do it ONLY because you want to save a child, or ONLY out of your sense of social responsibility. You've gotta be ready to be mommy and daddy 24/7 for the rest of your life, even after that child is "saved." You've gotta have a whole in your heart that can only be filled by the child you hope to adopt.

By adopting the three children we have adopted (or are in the process of adopting) their lives have almost certainly been "saved" in some fashion.

I just read a newstory today about a 6 year old girl in Cambodia that was rescued from a brothel in Phnom Penh--after enduring a year of rape and abuse. She is now HIV+. This girl's fate is the fate of may orphans in Cambodia. Because our daughter was adopted, she is not at risk for this horrible "death."

In our son's case the issue is medical. He was born with a disease that would have killed him before his first birthday had he remained in Vietnam. I wouldn't have mattered if he were the richest kid in the country--the country isn't equipped to deal with the one in a billion kind of needs he had. We didn't adopt him to save him. He was perfectly healthy as far as we knew. But because he was adopted, he is alive right now.

I'll admit that I struggle most with Bright's adoption. And it's with his adoption that I am most aware that adoption IS at it's heart, a selfish act on our part. We want another child--we want Bright--so we are attempting to adopt him. We didn't take him away from his birth father (his father sought out the orphanage's help on his own), but if it were really about "saving" a child we could have certainly tried to find a way to support his birth father (and Bright's four older siblings) so that they family could remain in tact. We haven't done that. And I would be lying if I didn't feel guilty about that.

There were no birth parents in the picture with our other two children so this is the first time I've had to examine so deeply what my motives are. But even with Bright there is a "saving" factor. The orphanage was only able to take him because they had our family (through our agency) standing by ready to take responsibility for his care. If "the adoptive family" hadn't have been there, Bright would have been turned away and would have most likely died.

I feel like I've rambled on endlessly today! This is such a hard topic to wrap ones mind around and then be able to put down in written form. In the end, adoption is a fabulous thing for parents. Is it "fabulous" for children? I would say no. It's the best alternative when a child's birth family or an adoptive family in the child's country of origin cannot care for the child. There are certainly benefits for the adopted child--but nothing would benefit that child more than being safe and healthy in their own birth country, in their own birth family.



Nichole...aka Mia's Mommy 12:23 PM  

Thanks sis... just what I needed today. To ball like a baby. Just imagining Taevy as little Srey about tore me up.

All I can say is I am glad you have all of your kiddos and I am glad we have Mia.

I think I will go cry some more now.


Jenn 8:44 PM  

thanks so much for being transparent with your thoughts and feelings. it helps me (just beginning our first adoption journey) see the reality of the adoption experience.

i found your blog through mary's ethiopia blog on your writing has been a blessing!

Leisa 11:58 PM  

Hi Anita
I have come here through Heathers blog. I have been thinking about this alot and struggle to reconcile those feelings too. I have written about it at our blog

I don't know that it will ever be reconciled. But it helps to read other people's perspective.
Best Wishes