So much of what I thought about adoption has changed over the last couple of years. I almost have to laugh when I think about how naive Christian and I were when we got into this whole thing. I have talked a great deal about corruption in international adoption on this blog. (Corruption happens in domestic adoption, too, and I plan to write about it someday, but just haven’t gotten around to it.) Unfortunately, corruption was one of the first things in which we were schooled. Several months after we adopted Zoe from Phu Tho, Vietnam, the province was shut down to US adoptions over allegations of corruption, and now Vietnam is shut down to US adoption entirely. It was a gigantic wake-up call. Before that, we thought that all international adoptions were wonderful and that any agency or person working in the field must have noble intentions. We really thought everyone cared about the kids. Boy have our opinions changed on that.
Another thing that has really changed is our opinion about open adoption. Sadly, our opinions on this have changed in part because of what we have learned about corruption in adoption. I feel guilty admitting that one of the main reasons we chose international adoption in the first place was so that we didn’t have to “deal” with birthparents. Christian and I were talking about this the other day. We vividly remember sitting in our family room talking to the social worker for our first homestudy. We told her we knew that children who were adopted internationally and who had been in orphanages could be sick, have developmental delays, or attachment problems, but that we were much more willing and able to accept those challenges than we were the challenge of having a birthfamily change their mind or be involved with “our” child for the rest of our lives. However, once we learned that there was a real possibility that Zoe’s birthfamily could have been coerced or tricked into placing her for adoption, or that she could have even been kidnapped, we longed for more information. Now we WISH we could have had contact with her birthfamily, so that we could know this was truly what they intended for her and thought best for her.
What we have finally realized in the past few years is that adoption is not about US and what WE are comfortable with. Adoption is about our CHILDREN and what is best for THEM. We now believe that what is best for THEM is to have contact with their birthfamilies, or at least that they have the OPTION to have contact with their birthfamilies. For that reason, we have done the following:
- We have transitioned Colin’s adoption into a fully open adoption from a semi-open adoption. This means that Colin’s birthmom now knows our last name and our address, and we are going to visit her in the next couple of months.
- We have started a search for Zoe’s birthfamily in Vietnam. We have hired a searcher, and they will be starting the intial phase of the search with officials in Hanoi as early as next week. We are not certain that the search will be successful, but we are hopeful.
I plan to write separate posts about Colin and Zoe this week, but this has all been very difficult for me to put into words, so bear with me. I am also still struggling with how much information to share, whether or not to password protect, etc. Also, I have a lot of friends who are adoptive parents who have not arrived at the same decision we have, so please know that I am not judging anyone here. This is what Christian and I have decided is best for our family. Similarly, I ask that everyone else respect the decision that we have made. Yes, it is scary, but again, this is what we think is best for our family. Finally, I know that there are many adult adoptees who say that the decision to have contact with birthfamily should be that of the adoptee. We appreciate that opinion as well, and the decision to continue contact in the future will be Colin and Zoe’s. However, we feel that we need to lay the groundwork now for the possibility of that contact to be there when they are old enough to make the decision themselves.