On a more cooled off note, there has always been something surrounding international adoptions that I’ve been uneasy with for many years now. Do I want the children in orphanages to be without love and a family? No. Of course not. Would I deny a children the blessing of being in the US if that is their dream? No. That’s not it. That’s not what gets me. It just seems daunting enough to heal the biological divide on the same soil and in the same culture where adoption takes place. Add a language barrier and cultural clash…well, one cannot help but wonder what it does to the chances of a successful reunion.
I was at the home of a coworker in 2001 and my boss was there babysitting a little girl between 1 1/2 and 2 years of age. She told me that the little girl was adopted from Russia. She was so cute and so sweet! As I watched her do her thing as a sweet, unaware innocent, all I could think about was how far she was from home…I don’t know…I just couldn’t shake it, the sadness of realizing that so much of what makes her who she is was getting jumbled right before our very Americanized eyes.
Of course, a lot of it may have been me interjecting what was starting to become apparent about my own experience. I was all dreamy-eyed in 1992, already counting the days when I could be reunited with my son, but by this time in 2001 I was beginning to wonder about the chances. And seeing that sweet little girl…thinking about the chances for her just really, really got to me. I’m sure her parents would object vehemently to my saying she was so far from home because they’ve been doing all they can to make a home for her and to convince themselves that her home is with them. And, indeed, it is because they have willed it and made it so. But none of that changes the reality that there is always going to be a part of her life that is in Russia, thousands of miles away. It’s a part of the reality that cannot be changed, cannot be erased, no matter how much adoptive parents may wish and will it to be otherwise.
In the short term, the child is happy, and safe, and cared for. Over the course of a lifetime, though, it gets more complicated – way more complicated – which grieves and burdens me greatly.
I wonder if the mothers of the kids who are being adopted from Russia and other countries even know that their babies are going to the States?
I actually visited a few orphanages in Romania in 2006. That’s where my skepticism comes from when prospective adoptive parents say they bonded with a baby in an orphanage. When most people visit an orphanage to hold a baby, volunteers do it because they are motivated to…it’s their good deed – and, indeed it is good! The people working in the orphanages do it because it’s their job. But when someone shows up and gives devoted attention focused in on one particular child, of course that child is going to respond. That’s not to say that there can’t be a connection. That’s part of what being a human being is, making connections.
In one of the orphanages, there was one boy, about 8 months old, who really captivated my heart. We just clicked. I wanted to whisk him away from there, get an apartment in that Romanian city, and watch him grow. The urge to rescue a child one falls in love with from an institution can be overwhelmingly compelling. There were a few babies who were just so, so precious I was almost moved to tears, but that one sweet boy… That connection felt so amazing! It’s like time stood still. Then somebody, I can’t even remember the face of who it was, snatched him away, and it felt like someone was ripping my heart out. For weeks and even months, I could not stop thinking about that little baby boy! To this day, I can still see his face and that smile that so lit up my heart. If anybody is capable of understanding something about the compulsion to adopt overseas, I can say with confidence please count me in that number.
After I got home, whenever I would indulge in the fantasy of adopting that baby boy, it was always with the idea of moving there. To even think of bringing him here just did not feel right. When considering raising a child from another country, I feel that the most humane and honorable way to go about it is to commit to raising the child in his or her country of origin. I mean, it’s one thing to take family blood ties out of the equation, but to take away the person’s country too? I’m sorry. I’m just too Scots-Irish and Dutch for that to even enter the picture…the love of the land is just in me too strong and too deep. But I am an adult, and we’re talking about the welfare of children, and being the adult, to me, means it goes without saying: Don’t strip these innocents of absolutely everything they are, dear Lord!!