Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Dear Sugar: Burning Domestic Infant Adoption Questions

Dear Sugar:

One thing you may not know about my family is that we set out to adoption internationally (Guatemala) first, and our agency warned us the program was going to close soon.  So we then moved on to considering foster care-adoption.   A couple of families from our church had gone that route; however, after many heart-to-heart conversations, we decided not to continue down that path.  We then had two women volunteer to be surrogates for us, to which we decided we weren't interested in building our family that way.  Domestic infant adoption was the last consideration on our list, and here we are, ten years later, having adopted four times via DIA.  
Today I want to answer the DIA questions (and hopefully helpful answers) I'm asked the most.   Let's get started!  

Q:  One reason I'm leaning toward international adoption is because we do not want an ongoing relationship with our child's birth family.  It seems like everyone who adopts domestically is talked or coaxed in to open adoption.  Is it wrong of me to not want to spend a lifetime sharing my child with his or her birth family?  

A:  I facilitate a local adoption support group of 425 women who represent different triad members. Many of these mamas have adopted internationally.  As their children grow up and express interest in learning more about/locating their birth family, the international mamas-by-adoption have faced struggles.  Some of them have no information on their children's birth families (and their child's medical history) which can be emotionally problematic (and physically problematic when it comes to medical situations).   

Now, there is no "right" or perfect adoption route to take.  Every avenue AND every adoption has its pros/cons, joys/struggles. However, you are correct to assume that open adoptions among international adoptees and their birth families are much more rare than in domestic infant adoption.

It sounds like the fear is coming from you, the hopeful parent.  I understand open adoption can be BIG and scary and intimidating.  I also understand that you feel you do not want to "share" your child with his or her birth family, because it's likely you don't have much education on open adoption (so you create scenarios and feelings in your mind).  However, open adoption is a spectrum and the adoption isn't all about you and your needs, fears, and desires; the adoption is about the child. If you opt out of domestic infant adoption simply out of fear, there's a lot going on there besides just avoiding open adoption.   

I suggest you learn as much as you can from adoptees before choosing an adoption route and a level of openness.   And as far as not wanting a lifetime of sharing your child, your child's beginning will always be with his/her birth family, and no adoption route you take can change that.  

Q:  Why does DIA cost SO much?

A:  DIA can cost a small fortune, yes.  But there are also those of us who adopt using small, ethical agencies that operate as a ministry and not as a business.  What do I mean by this?  Of course the adoption cannot be free since agencies (even small ones) have to pay rent and qualified employees, but they do things like not operate a super fancy website, not hire social media managers, not charge families "advertising" and "marketing" fees, not offer posh maternity homes for expectant mothers, etc.  Does this mean you may wait longer for a child than if you paid more and used a "big" agency?  Sure.  But what matters most?  ETHICS!   Now not all "small" agencies are ethical, and yes, big agencies CAN be ethical. There are reasonable fees, and then there is "fluff."  Does "fluff" mean there are placements?  Sure.  But to me, the more "bare bones" the agency is, the more room there is for ethics (because there's less getting in the way).   (What does ethics mean in adoption?  Find out more here.)

Q:  I REALLY want to adopt a little boy.  Yet I feel a slight sense of guilt for having a preference.  Our agency says it's up to us.  Is it OK to be selective about gender?

I wrote about this awhile back, and I stand by it.  I'm opinionated on this matter.  But it's YOUR adoption journey, not mine.  We have never said we would only adopt a boy or a girl.   We are a big, happy family, with three daughters and one son.  I wouldn't change a thing!  

Q:  I'm considering trying to find a match on my own vs. using an agency.  I've read that some hopeful parents opt to market via social media.  Have you tried this?

A:  No, I haven't, and let me tell you why.  1: I'm not willing to put my personal information in public spaces, accessible to anyone.  2: I like the security of having an agency involved, a third party, for the long-haul.  (A good agency will be available for the long haul:  pre, during, and post placement, and not just for you and the birth family, but also for the adoptee.)  3: I am not interested in being both hopeful parent and the expectant parent's social worker/counselor.  That is unethical and it's not healthy.  (Now some choose to hire a third party, a counselor.) 

Now I know many who have gone the independent route and have adopted.  That's their choice and their journey.  I'm merely sharing my reasons for not opting to go that route.   

Let's chat about DIA on Facebook.  What other questions do you have?  What would you add to the answers I provided here?  

No comments:

Post a Comment

Comments are moderated and published upon approval. Your thoughts and questions are also welcome via e-mail at whitebrownsugar AT hotmail DOT com.