Monday, December 20, 2010

My defensiveness and why we chose International Adoption

WARNING: Long and rambling post ahead!

Thank you to Pixie over at Cheese Curds and Kimchi for sharing a funny and insightful story over here about a couple doing an "adoption maternity photo shoot".

I wanted to share one thing on here that the article made me think of. Here is the paragraph in the article:

"I don’t know a single biological parent who’s had the very choice to give birth to their children questioned so constantly, and throughout her child’s life; you just don’t see pregnant ladies having to face an inquisition squad in line at the grocery checkout, full of people wondering why they didn’t choose to adopt? Couldn’t have they investigated foster care? Don’t they realize that there are already so many children already out there who need homes?"

The reason I bring this up is that I was asked recently why we decided to adopt and why South Korea. These are not unusual questions and most people (including this person) are very interested in hear and encouraging. But I wanted to post a bit about my response. I immediately tensed up. I tried not to show it to these caring people (that I do know well enough that they should feel comfortable asking) but my initial reaction has become a bit of defensiveness because I've had these questions and responses before:

- I thought only rich/famous people adopted internationally (REALLY?!? nope, that's not us!)
-Don't you know there are a lot of kids here who need homes?
- Why aren't you going through foster care?
- My husband and I had one person go on and on for at least 15 minutes telling us that we should have gone through foster care and giving us the how's and the why's (hello - you've never adopted and I barely know you, leave me alone!) of it because she knows one person who successfully did this (one person - yes, that means it's a fact that it would be easy for us).

I think foster care adoption is wonderful. We briefly explored it. The goal of foster care is to bring families back together, not adoption. Adoption is the point once parental rights have been terminated. This doesn't happen quickly and easily usually (I'm sure it can but I don't believe that's the majority of cases). A majority of kids currently available for adoption through foster care (parental rights already terminated) are 6 and older. Not all, but a lot who already have the parental rights terminated are definitely older than 3 and we think it is important for our kids to keep birth order, at least at this point in time). Also, I'm not currently comfortable having a child come into our house, have my children fall in love with this child, and then have that child go to another home where we aren't allowed contact anymore. I can hardly imagine how I would deal with this emotionally and I don't think it's the best choice for our family right now.

Domestic adoption - another wonderful way to adopt, but this is not cheaper nor easier than international and it completely depends on a birth Mom choosing you and the timeline is completely unknown. Plus there are times that the birth mom decides to parent. This is WONDERFUL but emotionally I would struggle with that.

So we landed with South Korea. I said in a much earlier post why we specifically chose South Korea. I'll find that and link to it rather than repost. But one reason (out of many) is time since we are a military family and we can only be sure to be here for 2 years. We wanted to have our child with us before we had to move. It's also a country that we have respect for and could share the culture with our children and over time I've grown to love Korea and I can't wait to visit!!!

If you've stuck with me this far, don't worry I'm almost done. Thanks so much for listening! Hope we're still friends!
Anyway, this is more a chance to get things off my chest. Sorry for griping. I am happy to educate about adoption, I do get frustrated when people judge me without really understanding.


  1. All of us APs have faced these questions too. We explored and decided against foster adoption for the exact reasons you listed. If, for some remote reason, we decide to grow our family again in a number of years, I think we will return to that avenue, as our children will be older, but every family has their own reasons and others should respect that. The problem is, even good, nice people are ignorant--meaning they really have no idea about a lot of aspects of adoption.....leaving it to us to educate them. FUN!!!

  2. I definitely understand, but I go through phases where I don't mind answering way-too-personal questions in the hopes of educating people. But when people start to challenge your life choices, it gets really annoying. I remember when we had our whole health insurance debacle when Olive came home, I made the mistake of reading the comments on the news story when it was published online. And some idiot went into this tirade about what horrible people we were for adopting outside of the country and seemed to think that we deserved to have insurance struggles b/c our child wasn't American. The nerve! I think the thing that I'll never get used to as an AP is the people who feel entitled to probe so deeply into our private life just because I look differently than my children. I'm ALWAYS proud of my beautiful, sweet little girls, and I carry my head high when we are in public, but sometimes it would be nice to just blend in instead of always being an ambassador of the IA world...

  3. We adopted through foster care and will be again (after the baby's citizenship is worked out). We have fostered 4 girls that we think of often. I still miss our Blondie.

    We have noticed problems with our 3-yr-old watching kids move in and then out. He even prayed months later for a baby we had only 4 days. Foster care is not for the tender-hearted.

    Bless you for saving an orphan!
    We would love for you to join our Adoption Blog Hop!

  4. I could not agree more! All we hear are questions about why we don't have out own child...because we are chosing to adopt. Done. Finished. End of the story. It's our personal choice as two married adults to grow our family through adoption - no one asks a pregnant woman why her and her husband chose NOT to adopt. So why does everyone ask adopting mama's why they don't/can't have their own...or try to tell them what country or how to do it. And - like you said - the WORST part is that the one's doing the telling haven't even considered it for themselves.

  5. Hugs! I have gotten some wierd reactions to us adopting. Isn't that really expensive? Is the most recent comment from a new hairdresser. I got kinda defensive and said yes, but she is totally worth it. I hate it that it is usually a first comment about adoption. Sigh. I think it Is natural to have a hard time not being defensive when there are so many uneducated people.

  6. Thank you for posting this! One of my first conversations I had after we decided to adopt was when I called the doctor's office to have our medical checkups and the lady on the other end, said after finding out that we were adopting internationally, "My son is adopting through foster care. I guess they just really care about the kids here." I was like, "oh man, it's already started." Thanks for your insight. It's good to know there are others out there going through the same thing!

  7. I loved this post. Vent away my friend, vent away! You're adopting internationally and get the - why didn't you go domestic route. During our two failed domestic matches, I can't tell you how many people asked us why we didn't switch to international and specifically adopt from China. They'd get pretty pushy about it too. I never wanted to debate it, but people sometimes act like they don't want to stop talking about it until they change your mind. I think ultimately it comes from a place where they think they're solving your problem of a long wait, but it can be frustrating. Thank you for talking about this!

  8. Great post! I am guilty of asking "why (insert country here)?" But then again I love learning about different cultures (I'm 1/4 Japanese but my Aparents never taught me about that culture) I will def go read your post about why you choose South Korea

  9. I totally am with you 101% I have even had one lovely person ask "what will you do if you get a referral and she is really homely?" Yikes!! People are just silly. I try to put myself in their shoes in order to not get too upset. Sometimes I probably ask really dumb questions about things I have no knowledge of. But still, I get my defense on QUITE often. It's hard not to!!

  10. So glad you posted this here! We have the same questions and deal with the same things (why Korea?) and the never ending guilt that folks try and put on you for not adopting "in your own backyard". Not to bust their bubble, but an orphan is an orphan. It doesn't make any difference if they are from America, Korea, Africa or any other place in this world. They all need homes. I think it's good to a certain extent to explain this to folks for education purposes and to try and breakdown this prejudice, but it's hard not to get defensive for sure!

  11. I completely understand where you are coming from. I love talking about our adoptions and I try to keep in mind that people are less educated about the issue then we are and therefore may unintentionally say rude or hurtful things. However, it really bugs me when people feel they have a right to judge our decisions and expect us to justify our motives and choices.

  12. My heart goes out to you. We adopted both our girls through foster care but that was our choice. We explored overseas adoption and decided it wasn't for us. It really upsets me when either choice is questioned. I've had people say to me that enough American kids are adopted, why not adopt from overseas?

    My answers usually depend on the attitude of the person asking. If they are curious and polite I usually answer them honestly and encourage the conversation, I LOVE to be an advocate for adoption.

    However, then there are THOSE people... the ones who are not asking nicely. And I usually have something not so nice to say back to them... in my head. It rarely makes it out of my mouth, but I'm working on sticking up for myself more. I subscribed to "Adoptive Families" magazine and they sent me a great .pdf file on adoption language and answering the hard questions from people who say the stupidest things.

  13. Great post! ....I can totally relate. I have had the same question asked more than once. I like to smile nicely and turn the question around....something along the lines of "We chose S. Korea this time but, may adopt again. We are not sure which route we will go. Please tell me what you know about Foster Care and Domestic Adoption?"

  14. yep yep. i hear ya and we've been there too. it's quite frustrating to feel the need to defend our decisions or justify them to others. if all those folks are so concerned about the kids here in the u.s., why aren't they out there adopting them? (evidently they think the responsibility of children in foster care is best left to the reproductively challenged...but i digress) many seem to ask these questions because they are interested, but those few that ask the pointed questions, as if they are informing us about something we didn't know (there are kids in the US that need families??? what???) are the ones that chap my hide. excellent post and thanks for the shout out!