True Love: The feeling when you first look in your child's eyes, the tiny little hand gripping your finger, and you can't imagine your life without him or her.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Frequently Asked Questions

I'm totally ripping this off of reposting from another family's blog {the family has unfortunately deleted their blog} but I loved it so much, I had to have a copy in our blog!

So, for those who want to know the answers, or just want to know the "proper" way to phrase these questions (so we don't offend each other- we gotta be PC!!), read on! I hope these Q & A's help. Let me know if you can think of any others I need to add to the list.

~"Couldn't you have more kids of your own?" or "Why wouldn't you want more kids of your own?"
**Perhaps You Meant to Ask: "Why did you choose to have children by adoption rather than by birth?"
Answer: As far as we know, yes, we could most likely have had more children by birth. However, we had discussed adoption very early in our relationship, and always had it in the back of our minds. We had actually decided that our precious Xandra would be our one & only child very soon after she was born. Time has a way of changing our minds for us. When we began feeling the 'pull' to add to our family, we decided that providing a home and a loving family to a child already born into this world was the right path for us. And our son is "our own," no matter where he was born.

~"When there are so many kids in the U.S. who need homes, why would you fly halfway around the world for a child?"
**Perhaps You Meant to Ask: "Why did you pursue international adoption over other forms of adoption?"
Answer: There were many things that led us to international adoption over domestic. It is a personal choice for everyone, much as having children in general is a personal choice. Our hearts led us to China.

~"Were you pressured into adopting a kid with special needs?"
**Perhaps You Meant to Ask: "Did you go into the process targeting special needs adoption?"
Answer: As a matter of fact, no- we weren't seeking out a "special needs" child. Our hearts led us to China before we knew about their policies. In the past, an adoption of a "healthy" child from China took around a year to complete. Over the past few years, this process has been extended to 4-5+ years. China has been focusing on their "special needs" children - many of whom are like our son. The reality is that every adoption is a special needs adoption - every adopted child needs an extra measure of patience and love and acceptance - and we tried to be realistic about this fact as we started our adoption journey. ****Love Without Boundaries produced an awesome video that dispels the "special needs" label- it's very worth the 10 minutes to watch it!**** Trust me, Matt & I had countless discussions about the 'what if's' that come about in the world of adoption, and each discussion has concluded with, "Any of these special needs could have occurred with our biological child, and we would have dealt with it to the best of our ability & never waivered in our love for her. Why would we turn a child away from our hearts & lives because of this?"  

~"How much did/will he cost?"
**Perhaps You Meant to Ask: "What are the costs associated with international adoption?" (This one's a touchy one. Tread with care)
Answer: It's no secret that international adoption is an expensive endeavor. Each country has its own requirements & associated costs. Specifically for China: room and board for @ 2 weeks in a foreign country + U.S. paperwork & homestudy + document translation & processing + translator, driver, & facilitator costs = nothing in comparison to the joy and privilege of adding a child to our family. If you are looking for specific $$ amounts, feel free to contact us & we can provide the names of some very reputable adoption agencies to help answer this for you. You may also want to think about the comparison of costs with a biological child: prenatal care, the birth of a child in a hospital (with the possibility of a c-section, as was the case for me with Xandra), food, clothing, and care for at least the first 9 months (depending on the age of the child at the time of adoption). These costs don't really vary that much from adoption.

***For those who would like a cost comparison, I found an incredible article in the Adoptive Families magazine regarding adoption costs between 2009-2010 (via a survey of their subscribers):
Newborn (Agency)                        $33,793
Newborn (Attorney)                       $31,465
U.S. Foster                                        $2,744
China                                             $28,623
Ethiopia                                         $28,254
South Korea                                  $37,586
Russia                                            $49,749

~"What about Milo's 'real' parents?" or "Will you find out anything about Milo's 'real' parents?"
**Perhaps You Meant to Ask: "Will you get any information about Milo's birth parents or first parents?"
Answer: No we don't expect to receive any information regarding Milo's birth parents. Due to the laws in China, the birth parents aren't able to leave identifying information about themselves (see next question). While this is disappointing, we understand that these are China's laws. We will honor his biological 
parents (or birth/first - we actually call them "China mama" & "China daddy") for their decision to bring him into this world, and opting to leave him in a place where he was found quickly & taken care of, so he could have a better future. We know it takes a strong, courageous person to make that kind of decision. 
**The use of the term "real" in front of parents tends to make me feel as though I'm not real (maybe I'm a robot?). We are Milo's real parents.

~"How could a mother be so cruel to just leave/abandon her baby?" (Regarding the practice of Chinese mothers abandoning their child)
**Perhaps You Mean to Say: "Do you know why your child was abandoned?"
Answer: [Get ready, this is a long answer!] 
     We have a tendency to view the world through our "American-ized" values & standards. Instead of blindly judging a completely different culture, we should first understand their circumstances. Many people are aware of China's infamous "One Child" policy. This, coupled with the Chinese strong preference for male babies, is often the reason for an abandoned baby girl. But this is also a very simplified explanation. There are of course, many books & websites detailing these Chinese practices. Essentially, China has no form of social security or welfare. When people become too old to work, they rely on their child to support them. A son will stay & care for his parents in old age. A daughter, however, will marry & take care of her husband's parents. Also, in the many rural areas of China, the farmers need a boy to help with the manual labor. 
     Yet another aspect that we don't think about here in America, is the fact that medical care must be paid for in advance in China. If you cannot afford the payment, you will not receive any treatment. There is also a strong belief that children born with physical abnormalities are "bad luck." Many of these traditional beliefs (boys are better than girls, special needs children are bad luck, etc) are beginning to disappear in more populated, urban cities; but can still be readily found in rural areas.
     Because it is illegal to abandon a child, the parents that choose this route, I believe, truly love their children. Knowing they can't care for their child, they have chosen to break the law so their child might have a chance at a better life than they can provide. As with our son, many of these children are left in an area where they will be easily & quickly found & taken care of. It is a true act of love. But this explains why they cannot leave any identifying information that may lead back to them. 
     We are left with only speculation as to why our child was abandoned, but we will most likely never know anything about his biological parents. 

~"He's such a lucky boy [..to be adopted]!" or "He ought to be so grateful for all you've done for him."
**Perhaps You Meant to Say: ... Ok, I can't think of a good way to phrase this one... (another rather touchy subject)
Answer: I can't think of a single child (at virtually any age) who is grateful for all their parents may have done for him/her 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. If you know anything about children at all, you'll know they tend to live in the minute, and don't really ponder on their good fortune. This is really no different for an adopted child, nor should it be. We as the parents are the grateful/lucky ones to have had the good fortune to be able to provide a loving home for our child(ren). 

***This may be the most important question, but often goes un-asked***
If you're curious about our transracial family & how we came to be...
If you're curious about Milo & what happened to his arm...
Please don't stare to the point of uncomfortableness (at least on our part). 
I'm extremely proud of my family. And I'm a talker. So if you approach me & ask me a question, I will more than likely talk your ear off. I may not tell you all the details, because they don't all belong to me (Milo's story belongs to him). But, I'd rather you talk to us (even a nod in our direction) instead of the stares that make can make us feel like weirdos.  

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