My life is totally surrounded by adoption. Maybe because I live in the demographic (though I am slightly older than this) of women who had careers, delayed conception, were unable to conceive in their late thirties when they got around to trying, and then ended up adopting. This means that I almost never can go to a party of say, twenty or thirty people, without there being one or two adoptive couples present. Some of them are relatively good friends that I see often enough so that ADOPTION is not the first thing that comes to mind when they walk in.
But then, one friend's (an adoptive mother of a Chinese girl) college roommate is out for the weekend, and she too is an adoptive mother. With a kid as Irish-looking as they come who is being raised in a quite different religion. And bang, I see her, and I think: adoptive parent, how is the child, do they know who the mother is, do they ever think about her? And I wonder if the first thing the woman thinks of when she sees me is that I am a birth/first mother. Who found her daughter. I wonder how her son is faring, is he interested in searching, and I pray that adoption never comes up that evening. And I am on some sort of edge until we say goodnight, and relieved that I got through the evening unscathed.
And there's another friend--the divorced dad of an adopted Chinese daughter--whose new girlfriend, in her late 30s, maybe even her 40s, wanted to have a kid but waited too long and now...she's shopping countries for a baby. Our friend tells my husband that you can either get in line at the countries that allow adoptions, albeit ever more slowly, or you can go to the head of the line at countries that have not yet allowed international adoptions but are thinking about it. That's the route she chose, and is applying for a child in Nepal, which has not yet opened up to foreign adoptions. Our friend and his fiancee are not getting married, in fact, because it will be easier for her to adopt as a single parent rather than as a couple, because then the father-to-be has a Chinese daughter from an earlier marriage. Incidentally, my friend is in every way a great divorced dad. (This is certainly a plot line for a soap.)
And another friend is Arthur, adoptive grandfather to Emily Prager's daughter, who moved to China with her daughter. And of course there's my somewhat tenuous but real connection to Brooks Hansen, author of the despicable but honest, The Brotherhood of Joseph. His parents live nearby, and are good friends of a friend, who used to have us to dinner together...until I introduced myself as a first mother who searched, found, had a relationship. And there's lots of other friends of friends....
Because I'm 66, many of our friends have children who are of child-bearing age, and when I hear that someone's daughter, or son, is having a baby, I cheer inside, because then I won't be faced with having to deal with yet another adoption, so close, so personal. I won't be drawn into conversations I don't want to have, and I won't be the subject of gossip I don't want to be.
I was reminded of all this by a piece in Newsweek this week about how American interest in foreign adoption is as strong as ever, but the number has dropped ten percent due to countries such as Russia, Guatemala and China dialing back their programs or ending them entirely. I don't really know how I feel about that because poorer countries have used their children as a cash crop, and that has led to all sorts of abuses (baby-stealing, kidnapping, extortion from poor women), but at the same time, a kid who might otherwise grow up in an orphanage anywhere is almost certainly better in a home with someone who cares. Yes, of course, there are abuses, and kids end up frozen in freezers, and sexually abused, but that has to be the exception.
So, am I alone is thinking ADOPTIVE PARENT, Be On Guard! whenever I encounter one? Or am I just obsessed...? Inquiring first mother wants to know.