Friday, November 28, 2008
Foreign Adoptions Cont'd and Thanksgiving Leftovers
By Linda Bolton
Somewhere in my family tree is an ancestor whose big toes look like reverse quotation marks and they passed that trait on to me. I have spent the past five days recuperating from surgery to straighten out my big left toe; the right toe was fixed about 15 years ago--twice--so I know I need to be relatively immobile. Of course I'm 15 years older, so I'm not bouncing back easily--I've spent most of the week in my chaise or napping. Complete recovery should take three to six weeks, which means I get to wear this heavy boot with everything from pajamas to business attire. The upside is my husband cooked Thanksgiving dinner for two (and did very well) and is making a turkey soup with the leftovers, so I can blog.
When Lorraine asked me to write about foreign adoption, I replied with the following e-mail:
I'm no authority on transcultural adoption. I'd rather see kids adopted in their own countries, of course, but if there are couples who want to spend their life savings and beyond to parent kids who are supposedly in need, how can I argue with that? I certainly don't have the means, financial or otherwise, to do it. What I am opposed to are the Angelinas and Madonnas who use foreign adoptions as publicity stunts. Of course I have no idea what their parenting skills are like, but I read this Associated Press blurb online last week:
Madonna and Ritchie have agreed to arrangements for their children. Their two boys — Rocco, 8, and David Banda, 3, are likely to split their time between Britain and the US. Lourdes, 12, Madonna’s child from an earlier relationship, will remain with her.
What kind of parenting is that? What kind of message does that send to a 3-year-old boy who's already lost his biological family and his culture?
Two families in my adoption support group received Angels in Adoption awards related to their transcultural adoptions; I hope these parents are the rule more than the exception. One couple adopted three kids from Romania and another from Guatemala. They've had trips to their kids' homelands; some, if not all, met their families of origin. The parents were almost in tears when the told of meeting one family, who thought they were seeing a ghost...they believed the stories that children relinquished to adoption became organ donors.
The other couple, who joined the support group when I did over a decade ago, raised two sons and then started a second family by adopting two girls from different regions of India, just a couple of months apart, so they're almost like twins. This couple is devoted to these girls. For several years one of the girls couldn't stop talking about how she missed her birthmother, and the a-parents were at a loss, the kids were practically abandoned by the side of a road (strict Indian culture and all) and there's no paper trail. It's a 100,000 to one chance that these girls will find their birth families. But two summers ago they had a trip to India, visited both girls' birthplaces, and were able to visit one girl's orphanage. They dress in saris on Indian holidays, of course eat a lot of Indian food, attend culture camps. The girls seem like any other pre-teens (they like to tease their father, who embarrasses them with his lack of cool). In other words, they're just an ordinary family.
A while back(March 2006)Lorraine and I read a NY Times article about Asian-born female adoptees coming of age. They were all about 18, and most said they were American, not Chinese, and we speculated about their sentiments in another 5, 10 years.
As most birthmothers on FMF have posted, we're not completely anti-adoption, and not all adopters are the enemy, and sometimes adoption is the absolute only course of action for a happy ending. Everyone agrees adoption is/should be about the child's best interest, not the adoptive parents with money to burn, nor should adoption add even more trauma to the distressed birthmother facing what's probably the most difficult crisis of her life. If only we could stick to that premise...
If you're around tonight, be sure to watch 20/20 on ABC (10 pm EST). One of tonight's stories is about [drum roll] foreign adoption. The web site teaser line says "'I Didn't Want Perfect Children' Adopting from overseas has created more pain than joy for some parents." And the first thing I thought was "THAT should make foreign-born adoptees really, really happy."
Finally, I wanted to tell readers that I've taken their advice. While I was confined to my chaise I was able to get a jump start on my holiday cards. And while I was addressing envelopes, I addressed one to my estranged daughter. It's the same card I've sent to family and friends, a photo of my mantle decorated for the holidays that appears at the top of the blog; a perfect seasonal greeting. No note. In my "Happy Birthday, Sarah" blog [October 2008], TheRightThing responded with the following:
"For 39 years I didn't want my mother sending birthday cards to me, but she did anyway. She never sent flowers or included a gift...I hated the cards. In fact, I would throw them in the trash. Of course this was after I read them...Now, that we are back in each other lives, I wished I would have kept every card she had sent me.
It didn't matter then that she sent them, but it matters now that she sent them. She showed me that she still loved me by sending the cards..."
Hopefully, one day my daughter will share TheRightThing's sentiments. Hopefully, one day seeing my return address in the upper left-hand corner of the envelope won't send my daughter into panic mode. Hopefully, one day she'll be glad she kept every card I have sent her, it will matter to her that they were sent, and she'll realize that I stay in touch (or at least try to stay in touch) because I loved her then, I love her still, and I'll love her always.
Hope your Thanksgiving was abundant in every way.