In the light of all the recent bad publicity surrounding international adoption, due to a select few news stories... I'd like to take a moment, outside all of the accusations and judgements painted on international adoptions, to bring some positivity and light to the other 99%. Unfortunately, an extreme few sometimes tends to taint the whole group, when in fact, most adoptive parents are simply amazing!
No, this is not about tooting my own horn. Yes, I happen to fit the title of adoptive parent... but this post is really a heart felt message for those who came before me... (with out you, there would not have been an 'adoptive me') and those who continue to knock my socks off with your desire and passion, and the work you do for the orphans of the world!!
It makes me sad to see such negativity around such a beautiful thing and the fall out landing on the amazing folks known as adoptive parents. It's nonsense and needs to stop, cause quite frankly, you have earned your badge of honor.
The world needs to understand who adoptive parents are, and what you have gone through to become one.
You had the courage to do what many can't even imagine. You went out on that ledge and you leaped. To follow your hearts whim, when your head gave you 100 reasons not to.
You slaved over applications, biographies, ordered original copies of everything from your birth certificates (the long form!), to your last bank statement... and copied them all in triplicate. Thousands of pages later, many late nights and paper cuts to show for it.
You prayed. You fretted. Wrung your hands dry, wondering how you would ever come up with the money. You fundraised, worked weekends, had garage sales, collected bottles, counted your pennies, accessed your lines of credit and got an adoption loan.
You spent many sleepless nights, and crying sessions in the shower, wondering and worrying what type of trauma your baby had gone through or was currently going through, and you didn't even know their name.
You purchased and read every book published on adoption, attachment and trauma. You watched videos and documentaries. You know every adoption blog out there and the authors by their 'real' first names.
You learned how to use Yahoo and Google groups, and even opened up a Facebook account to better connect you to the adoption community.
You endured hours and hours of interviews by a social worker whom asked you personal questions like, "Are you satisfied with your sexual relationship?".
You cleaned your closets, top of your cupboards and scrubbed walls, to only have the social worker not even look there.
You drove hours to be biometrically fingerprinted to prove you are not a criminal, only to find out that you will always have to say, 'yes' (followed by an explanation - cause you now sound like a criminal!) every time the border officer asks you if you have been fingerprinted.
You had scans, needles and fingers prodded in personal places to prove your health.
You took time off work, flew or drove many miles to attend your AEP. Otherwise known as the Adoption Education Program.
You attended seminars about the FASD child and Attachment Parenting.
You decorated the baby room, collected little shoes, rain coats and hats, without the slightest clue of when they would ever be able to be put to use.
You stressed and worried... made repeated emails and phone calls to your agency, hoping they would submit documents on time.
You chased your dossier around the world via Fedex tracking like a child tracks Santa on Christmas Eve on NORAD.
You waited and waited and waited and waited and waited. For many of you, it was an Elephant's gestation. You learned that waiting, can be the most difficult thing to do.
You took up learning the birth language of your soon to be child. You started eating and learning how to make foods you couldn't even pronounce.
Champagne and cigars... you cried tears of joy and shouted off the mountain tops when you FINALLY got your referral.
You instantly fell in love with a child on a piece of a paper.
You instantly fell in love with a child on a piece of a paper.
You flew thousands of miles, across the world to meet your new child. Some of you flew several times, over a long duration of time, as the legal side of the adoption was processed.
Some of you uprooted your lives and moved to foreign countries to fulfill residency. You put your jobs on hold, left friends, family and pets behind to be with your little one.
You endured the scrutiny and questioning yet again, from a few more different departments, this time in the birth country of your child. You were asked questions like, "Is your relationship Monogamous?" and "Have you ever had more than one wife?".
You ran all over a foreign city, taxi hopping one place to another as you chased down documents. You pleaded with government officials and cried at the counter of the Visa issuing embassy.
You wiped runny noses, medicated scalp fungus, and tackled ring worm.. several times as it made it's way through your family. You scooped poop into little viles... and we all know how great parasite poo smells!
You learned how to braid and care for skin and hair that is so completely different from yours. You learned why night caps are so important and the wonders of coconut oil.
And some of you went beyond...
Some of you did all this on your own as a single parent.
Some of you intentionally made the decision to adopt the 'unadoptable'.
The child with HIV. The child with FASD. The child with Down Syndrome. The child with cleft palate. The child with conditions and birth defects that I didn't even know existed. Children that were diagnosed with death sentences and left to die. Children with such abusive, traumatic pasts that they don't even know how to love. Who does that?!
YOU DID THAT!
You are angels in disguise, on this earthly planet, you are.
You did this all why?
I'm sorry... but put your humble hat away. It's more than doing it to become a parent.
Sure, for some of you that is where is your story started... but then the story changed you.
The sacrifices. The dedication. The commitment.
You did it to save the life of a child. You did it to give a child a family. You did it to give a child what they deserve - a better life. You did it, because if you didn't - who would? You did it out of love and compassion and you certainly wouldn't have changed a thing!
It wasn't easy... hell, it was probably the most difficult thing you have ever done. But it was worth it!
So the next time you feel like your put in a position to defend your decision to adopt continents away, a child that doesn't look like you or is considered 'special needs'; or when you feel assaulted by misjudgements, criticism and blanket statements as the negativity around international adoption escalates...
Remember how many people (like me!) you have inspired. How appreciated and respected you are. Remember how many lives you have changed as a result of your journey, as the effects 'ripple' on.
Sure, your just the same as anyone else... but with a little 'sprinkle' of amazing.
At least give yourself that.
I truly believe the responsibility of the orphan lies with us all. Some of us act... and others play a supportive role. But none of it would happen with out you... the adoptive parent.
I want to thank you.
Thank you for your bravery and commitment. The fight that you fight every day... to parent children from tough places and the fight you fought to get them there.
Thank you for following the pain in your heart, having enough faith to let it lead you, and enough courage to follow it through.
You are all salt of the earth people - and I'm proud to say I know you.