Sunday, August 29, 2010

Much To Think About

One of the things I feel strongly about is that adoption should be a last resort. Everything possible should be done to keep a family together and only if there is no other option and it's in the best interest of the child should he/she be relinquished.

I didn't give this enough thought when we started our journey. I think I gave too much credit to the relinquishment process. There are many reasons why a child might be relinquished. A death of one or both parents. A parent no longer able to care for their child due to poverty. Cultural reasons (rape, incest, single parenthood). I won't begin to get into the unethical practices that exist by some agencies. I believe all of these reasons are magnified in the context of international adoption.

When you begin thinking about poverty, for example, it's hard to wrap your brain around the idea that a child may be relinquished only because the birth family was economically unable to care for him/her. Yes, often times it's more complex than that, but you begin to think about what more can be done to keep families together.

One of the reasons we chose our agency is because they have a family preservation program. Some of the adoption-related expenses directly contribute to efforts that keep families together. Also, you can sponsor children in need so that they the family is not faced with the most difficult of decisions. This was important to us and it's why we've chosen to sponsor. It's hard to think about a child not with his or her birth family if the sole reason is because that family is impoverished.

I realize how naive I was before we began our journey. We chose to adopt because it's something I've always felt compelled to do. My husband knew this about me before we were even married. I always told him that I hoped to have birth children, but that I knew since I was a teenager I was going to adopt. Why did I feel that? Because there are so many "orphans" in this world who need a loving home. And there are orphans. But until we begin to question the definition of an orphan; until we ask ourselves why there are so many orphans and what we can be doing to stop even one child from becoming an orphan, there will continue to be circumstances where a child is relinquished unnecessarily or even as a result of unethical practices.

Most families are looking to adopt a healthy infant. There most certainly are healthy infants in need of families. But we've all been asked the question, "Why such the long wait if there are so many orphans in Ethiopia?" Yes, there's the bureaucracies intended to decrease the chances of corruption, but that's not all. It's also because there are not as many infants being relinquished as there are waiting families.

I think we have to face the prospect that with so many families wanting young infants, does the demand at all impact the circumstances surrounding a child being relinquished? It certainly does for unethical agencies that might make promises or payments to a birth family. But what about for ethical agencies? Since the rate of adoptions in Ethiopia has grown so significantly, does a birth family in Ethiopia recognize that the demand exists? That there is a family waiting for a child, and they think their child might be "better off" in the United States? Is the perception of "better opportunities, a better education, etc." a reason behind children being relinquished?

My hope is that we ask ourselves these difficult questions before starting the journey. In case you're thinking I don't support international adoption, I do. I think about countries who have closed their doors to inter-country adoption and the fact is, children are growing up in orphanages. There are older children and children with special needs who need families. And there are infants who need families too.

I just can't imagine having to question whether adoption was the last resort for my child. We are fortunate in that we know it was for our child. I hope we can collectively work towards this being the case for all families.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Beach Fun

We've been gone for a bit spending time at the ocean and then at my parent's cabin. It was great to get away. Thank goodness Etta loves the beach as much as her brothers.

Here are some pics of our time at the ocean...

And here is our time at the cabin...I grew up spending much of my summers there and it is where Ryan and I got married. Now our kids get to enjoy it. And friends. My close friends and their families joined us earlier in the week...there were 14 kids age eight and under. They had an absolute ball. And then my parents and sister joined us later in the week. It is a little slice of paradise for us. 

Thursday, August 5, 2010

A Little Update

We've been home for about a month and a half now. In some respects it feels like it was just yesterday when we were in Ethiopia meeting our daughter. At other times it feels like she's always been a part of the family.

Before we came home, I told myself I'd be forthright on any difficulties or challenges we were facing. I think it's important adoptive parents don't sugar-coat their experience. I've seen how international adoption can be romanticized and in reality, the journey is not always smooth sailing.

And the journey to our daughter was not exactly smooth sailing. It was a long wait, and one filled with anxiety. There were many times we didn't know if all was going to be okay. But from the day we met her, all anxiety disappeared. The fact of the matter is we are one lucky family. We have been blessed with an awesome little girl with a personality that absolutely sparkles. It's been so cool watching her develop and grow. She is joyful, loving, easy-going, affectionate, smart and determined....she seems to be high on life.

We are amazed at how far she's come in such a short time being home. She just turned 21 months and has been walking for a few weeks. She loves being able to cruise around. She is talking up a storm...I think she speaks 15-20 English words and learns more each day. She also seems to understand everything we say. We are amazed at how much she understands.

She adores her brothers (except when Blake decides he's going to try to harass her) and they love giving her attention. She's got a great sense of humor and can sure be a ham. She also knows what she wants and has no problem getting her opinion heard. I often think about her level of determination and know that is what got her through all the challenges she faced.

People often ask about sleep. She's sleeping well for a toddler..especially for a toddler who has experienced trauma and while in the orphanage, never slept alone. She sleeps in her own room (how about that?...thought I'd be co-sleeping like I did with my boys!) and only wakes a couple times wanting me to check in with her. Once in a while she'll sleep through the entire night.

I had really prepared myself to have a much more difficult transition. She has made it easy. The biggest adjustment has just been going from 2 to 3 children, all of them young, all of them full of energy. As Ryan says, no more man to man, it's zone defense now.

We cannot imagine our lives without her. She has already brought so much happiness to all of us. We can't wait to watch her grow right alongside her brothers.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010