If you have ever considered adoption, in your research
you quickly learned that there are many different issues that
impact your decision as to where and how to adopt your child.
Regulations, restrictions, cost, social factors, preparedness…the
list is long.
Here is one parent's perspective. If you adopted
internationally or domestically, what were the critical factors
that led to your decision where to adopt??
"Permalink to I’ll Tell You Why: Reflections on Domestic and International Adoption by Anne Louise Pass">
I'll Tell You Why: Reflections on Domestic and International
Adoption by Anne Louise Pass
Who Could Keep From Loving Them?
"I just don't understand why they can't adopt American
kids," she said.
I immediately whipped my head around to see if she was walking
hand in hand with her own domestically adopted child. After all:
you shouldn't throw stones if you live in a glass house. I saw no
child, and I could feel the smirk creeping into the corners of my
mouth, desperate to betray my thoughts. Ignorance. Tactlessness.
My mind was jamming, collecting layers of angry thoughts, neurons
firing at light speed. I could not think to speak, which- to
anyone who knows me- is a natural phenomenon.
I said to myself, "I must remain level-headed," a state that,
when I have been properly offended, I utterly despise. This woman
could be more insensitive than the waitress who suggested the
"ethnically appropriate Asian salad" for my Chinese sister, Ella
Grace. I was almost impressed by the caliber of her rudeness, but
mostly, I was angry. I felt the hot bubbles of indignation
simmering, dangerously close to boiling over. What would possess
her to say something so obviously offensive and rude?
Then the answer came: she was simply ignorant.
Ignorance is not a sin, and there are so many others like this
woman who have not been blessed with the experiences that I have
had. They cannot understand why a potential parent would want to
take on the challenge of raising a child of a different race or
culture, purely because they have not experienced that desire
themselves. They wonder why parents adopt internationally when
there are so many children here in the United States thirsting
for love and opportunity. Domestic adoption is much cheaper than
international adoption, and there is a great need for parents
willing to adopt these children. I empathize with these people's
claims because my brother was one of these domestic orphans.
However, one cannot ignore the need for international adoption.
To do so disregards the basic principles of adoption and presents
a serious issue of prejudice.
Prejudice has plagued our society since the birth of culture. It
manipulates us, always remaining hidden in the brush like a fox.
No one wants to acknowledge its danger, and so it ravages our
relationships, our government, and our society. Even adoption, a
process birthed out of love for another human being, is not safe
from its footprint. Everyone loves a baby, no matter what his
race, but as my youth minister's wife once said, "What happens
when my black baby grows up into a black man and asks your white
daughter to prom? I imagine your opinion might change."
International adoption critics love to argue that displacing
children from their native ethnic and racial background robs them
of their heritage and leaves them confused and lost in a new
culture. These claims are wrong. The United States federal
government has debated this issue, and it has been studied
extensively by psychologists. Transracial and transcultural
adoptees face no more psychological risks than adoptees of the
same race and ethnicity as their parents. In fact, families will
often make an effort to integrate their adopted child's native
culture into their lives. Many families learn their child's
native language or go to great lengths to take their child back
to his or her native country. Since her adoption, my sister has
traded her Chinese culture for American, but she has not suffered
any deprivation. On the contrary, she is blessed. What matters
most to her is not her birthplace, but that she has been cared
for by a loving family and given the opportunities to have a
better life than she could have had before.
However, children in America need these opportunities as well.
The most common argument against international adoption is that
we, as Americans, have an obligation to take care of American
children's needs before the needs of foreign children. When I am
confronted with this claim, after pointing out that one's
location does not define their personhood, change their basic
human needs, or limit their right to be loved, I have two
First, there are around 100,000 orphans in the United States
compared to 167 million orphans worldwide. According to The
Washington Post, there were over 600,000 women in America
waiting to adopt in August of 2008. In other words, if every
woman in America adopted one child domestically, there would
still be over 500,000 women willing to adopt. However, even if
these 500,000 women adopted internationally, there would still be
a over 11 million international orphans needing care. Now, think
for moment. In 2007, 78.4% of the United States' population of
302 million considered themselves Christian. James 1:27 commands
the Church to care for the widow and the orphan. If less than
half of these 236,768,000 American Church members took this
command to heart and cared for the child that God had placed in
their hearts, there wouldn't be an orphan problem, in the United
States or anywhere else.
Second, in America, orphans are given food, clothing, education,
and job training until they are eighteen. Children who are taken
into foster care because of abuse and neglect are placed in
foster homes with temporary families. They learn how to take care
of themselves. This does not necessarily mean they are given the
same economic or educational opportunities as children with
permanent families, or the same opportunities to be loved,
although many of them are. However, in Columbia, orphaned
children are turned on the streets as early as ten years old. In
other countries, children are typically turned away between the
ages of sixteen and eighteen and have little to no education or
job training. In fact, out of the 167 million orphans, 120
million will never receive any education whatsoever. About 60% of
these orphaned girls will become prostitutes, and 70% of these
boys will become criminals by the age of 18. 10-15% of these
children will commit suicide before the age of eighteen. Every
year, 1.8 million are forced into human trafficking,
prostitution, or the pornography industry, and 11
million will die of a preventable or treatable disease. These
children have no chance at improvement. While orphans here are
struggling, orphans oversees are dying. And while there
is a definite need for loving parents willing to take in American
children, the need for international adoption has an even greater
magnitude. In order to heal this festering wound in our world,
millions must respond to all the issues, domestic and
international. To say that parents who adopt internationally are
wrong, ignorant, or insensitive towards the needs of our country
is explicitly wrong, in every sense of the word.
However, international adoption is not an easy process. It is
expensive, and it can take years- after identifying a child- to
complete. It is mountains of paperwork and around forty thousand
dollars. Domestic adoption is much cheaper, but it is not without
drawbacks. During the adoption process, birth parents can change
their minds and unknown biological fathers can emerge and demand
the rights to their child. Ultimately, it is the state's first
priority to reunite foster children with their biological
families, which creates unimaginable stress on the adoptive
family until the adoption papers are signed and notarized.
Because of these challenges, out of the 600,000 women ready to
adopt, only a fraction of them will receive a child. As part of a
family going through this process right now, I understand, and I
fully support these families trying so hard to bring home the
child they love. I have experienced both domestic and
international adoption, and both processes come with their own
challenges, just as every birth child presents his or her own
unique set of problems. What these critics fail to realize is
that numbers and logic only go so far in adoption. The motivation
to adopt is not a deep charitable urge, a feeling of moral
obligation, or even a sympathetic desire to alleviate the
suffering of a "poor" orphan. It is love and the desire to love a
child, and when that love is felt, any parent will travel to the
moon and back for their child, adoptive or biological. Love
defies all logic.
In the end the decision to adopt is a matter of heart. A child is
a child, and birthplace cannot erase that fact. Both domestic and
international adoption come with risks and difficulties, but when
a child is waiting for their "forever family," as my mother says,
these challenges are trivial. Robert Dale Morrison once said,
"The quickest cure for racism would be to have everyone in the
country adopt a child of another race. No matter what your
beliefs, when you hold a four-day-old infant, love him, and care
for him, you don't see skin color, you see a little person that
is very much in need of your love." People who have not
experienced this love do not understand it, and on paper, loving
a strange child with an alien background seems absurd. But like
the farmer that extracts the fox from the brush and eliminates
its danger to his crops, families have chosen to ignore race and
ethnicity in their children, and challenges will not stop them
from holding them in their arms. They have discovered that race,
money, convenience, and nationality have no weight in the
mysterious process of love.
About the Author
Anne Louise Pass has grown up with a passion for orphans,
which she credits to her family. Her father is an international
missionary for Visiting Orphans, and she has two adopted
siblings, one brought home from China and one adopted
domestically. She has traveled to orphanages in China and Haiti
and plans to go to Rwanda with her father in December to visit
two orphanages and her twenty year old "sister," Amèlie, the girl
her family has fallen in love with and considers family.
These experiences have given Anne Louise a unique
perspective and fostered a mission to "speak out for those who
cannot speak for themselves," as she says. As an eleventh grader
at The Montgomery Academy in Montgomery, Alabama she plans on
continuing her education in order to bring glory to God and share
his hope with those who have none, wherever that may take
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