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Destinations, Dreams and Dogs - International adventure with a fast-track family (& dogs) of Old World values, adopting the Russian-Italian-American good life on the go…!

Should You Adopt?

There’s a line of thinking in adoptive circles that goes something like this, when a brave soul asks, “Should I adopt?”

“Gee, I don’t know, why help a poor, suffering child out of his/her misery?  You could always spend the money on a new car, some vacation get-aways, or plan to retire with more than two nickels in your pocket….”

To them, it’s the height of arrogance not to adopt, and believe me, I get it.  I understand that line of reasoning, having adopted four older children from Russia.

We adopted because we wanted to help kids, and this reasoning gets lambasted plenty of times in the same adoption circles that try to fit us square pegs into their neat circles.  The only acceptable answer for them is that you desperately want children, and cannot live without said darlings.

“Vhat is your motivation to adopt?” our facilitator chats with me in Russian on my first trip to meet the girls.

“Pahboozhdyen’yeh?” I blink, as though it should be self-evident.

“Vhy are you adopting?” he asks.

“To help kids, to give them a home,” I reply.

“Nyet, nyet, nyet— whatever you do, don’t say that in court,” he urges.

“Okaaay, what DO I say?”

“That you long to add more children and grow your family,” he coaches.

“I see,” I say, making a note of this.

It also really helps if you’re unable to have kids of your own, because, whether it’s true or not, this will be stated for you:  you are infertile, any use of contraceptives notwithstanding.

(I read the Russian court transcripts and was surprised to learn this about ourselves.)

There’s somehow the sneaking suspicion that, if you simply do this for the children’s sake, maybe at some point you will turn against them and resent them, while the other side of the fence imagines that, if you don’t adopt when it’s within your power, you’re a big ole, selfish baby.

I’d like to argue both sides, if you will allow me.  And even if you won’t allow me, I have teens, so I’m able to make my voice heard above the fray….

Imagine that we can convince many to adopt, and they do, and then realize that they’re in over their heads.  Adoption often easily becomes a full-time job, with therapy sessions or doctors’ appointments running a close second.  Tens of thousands of dollars, and even more, can slip away in no time in some of the more difficult situations.  You have this “baby”, whether 2 or 12 years old, 5 or 15 years old, who will pretty much need you 24/7, if not 25/8.  It’s unnerving and shocking, even when you’re mentally prepared for it.  Others have smooth sailing, leading onlookers to believe that they will, too.

Or, perhaps we can convince those do-gooders that they’re not good enough, they don’t measure up, a child doesn’t want someone to help them, they instead prefer parents who will desperately cling to them.  We decrease the already-low supply of prospective adoptive parents who are willing to lay big bucks on the line, with varied prospects for any measurable return on said investment.

In either scenario, there are risks involved, and lives at stake,whether theirs or yours.  The best bet is to be fairly persuaded in your own heart and mind.  Know your reasons and rationale and then move forward.

Can you love another person’s child as though they were your flesh and blood?  I think so.  I know so.  (Unless you’re married to your cousin, most of us have become pretty attached to absolute strangers at some point in our lives.)

No matter what you may be coached to say to a social worker performing your homestudy, or when standing before a foreign judge, or when chatting in adoption circles that can be bubbles unto themselves, the biggest piece of advice is (after getting loads of input and reading up on the subject):  know thyself.

At the end of the day, you come home to yourself, and your child.  If there’s peace with your decision, and (either sooner or later) peace within your family, that’s a pretty wonderful place to be.



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8 Comments : Leave a Reply

  1. avatar Linda says:

    Over here it’s such a BIG NO NO, to adopt because you want to help children, if you say that it is your only reason, then you won’t get permission to adopt, and rightly so.
    Our reason was always a very simple, we wanted a child.
    We tried to get pregnant, and even visited a specialist once. But that was that. We didn’t want to go through all those injections etc. So we started the adoption.
    And (as I’ve told you before) 3,5 years later we had our son.
    All in all from the day we decided to try for a child, it took some Months over 7 years.

    I don’t know if I would have gone through the whole thing if I just wanted to help kids. It would have been easier just to give money.
    And in all honesty, knowing that my child is “an easy one”, don’t think I could have taken it, if my only reason would have been to help a kid.

    But at the same time, I can’t think why anyone would go through the whole thing, if the ONLY reason would be to help a child. It may be one of the reasons, and maybe even the main reason, but I still think that nobody would adopt unless they want a child… Or do they??

    • avatar admin says:

      Good question, Linda, hard to say. We did not “not want” a child, but that was not our primary reason at all. (Maybe we’re just “different”-!) It’s certainly easy to understand the uphill battle to adopt in many countries, and yes, if I had to wait 7 years, there would need to be some very compelling personal reasons. I’m so glad that your dream came true. (And now that we have the kids, they are certainly a tremendous blessing in our lives, much as I like to joke about things….)

  2. avatar Winnie says:

    I think both factors come into play, but I have to say that if you are adopting ONLY because you want to help kids your setting yourself up. The need/want to be a parent should be there at least to some significant degree in order to put up with some/all the craziness that can arise bringing a kid (some more challenging than others) into your life. Raising a child is such a life long, demanding proposition that the need/want/urge/call to parent must be there as well.
    With that said I don’t think helping a child is a bad reason to adopt, and I often think many (me included) are prone to adopt again after seeing/meeting the kids we left behind and seeing with our own eyes their condition and their future. I can say that even my Hubby was moved toward adopting again after seeing the “Baby House” conditions. (never have due to lots of personal craziness, and may have talked ourselves out of it by now)
    That said I don’t think everyone that adopts does it because of infertility and it shouldn’t be, but I think you must want to parent in order to fill those shoes or else you could simply throw that HUGE amount of money at some cause or charity and help numerous children.

    • avatar admin says:

      That’s why I bring it up, because doing something solely for another is thought of as strange today, an act that should warrant suspicion and be avoided at all costs. Who knows? Maybe it’s a question of semantics, maybe I’ve been “mothering” lots of people my whole life…. In our first son’s case, he came from a fairly good children’s home and in discussing the conditions with the Director she said, “It’s not a family.” So while we realize that anyone could always contribute to the good of an orphanage (a new playground, kitchen, washing machines, bedspreads, medicines…), most of us recognize that kids physically and emotionally need families. To extend to them love and care should be part of the solution, no matter what the initial motivation (if it’s not something evil, of course). Maybe some of us are afraid of disappointment if we pin all of our hopes on a child or on a mate to fulfill or complete us. As they say, “It takes all kinds.” 🙂

      • avatar Winnie says:

        I don’t think it’s so much as doing something solely for another person – I think most of us do at least something small for somebody -usually a complete stranger – almost everyday. I think the difference lies in that adopting a child purely for the purpose of helping a child with no urge/need/want to parent can backfire so totally if the child is a handful and the ONLY reason was to help and now the child drains you emotionally, financially, and physically on a daily basis I would guess the majority of people would become resentful – even if they never showed it – that “Hey I went through hell to bring this child the world and now she’s raging because she didn’t want to wear the pink shirt! – can make you rethink the whole idea all together.
        I don’t think any amount of money thrown at an orphanage can replace the need for a family. I do think the family taking on a child that is basically an unknown quantity must have some deeper need than simply altruism to fill in order to be that family.
        I’ve been more than lucky with my son, he is beyond easy – easier than my bio in fact. But I know people who have gone in with eyes wide open, the urge to parent there, and still seen their families shredded and traumatized to a degree I pray is never visited on anyone. If that can happen to people who were committed on a level way beyond the urge to just helping a child, what happens to the families that were simply there to help? What happens to the middle class famlies that have adopted to “save a child” and then the child turns their world upside down and spins it around a few times to boot? Not just emotionally but financially as well. Most IA families are comfortable but what kind of resentment comes into play when the therapies, programs etc bankrupt a family to the point of living in a tiny apartment in a seedy neighborhood?

        I’m not denying your primary reason was to help a child, but I figure you must be pretty enamoured with the parenting thing to do it three more times and with children you admit can sometimes be a little less than perfect.

  3. avatar Greg says:

    Interesting observations. I never thought you would be criticized for just wanting to help a child. Sounds like a good enough reason for adoption to me!
    I am laughing and highly relating to your 25/8 comment. We know that one for sure. Our “baby” turned 16 last week. Mistakingly, we thought that after raising two of our own to teenager status (one leaves for college this year) we had this parenting thing down. Ha! We have been faced with so many new parenting “issues” that I’ve even begun to question if we were just lucky with the first two (our bio kids). An adopted teenager really forces you to think through all your decisions. With an unbelievably acute sense for smelling blood in the water, our adopted daughter has really forced my wife and I to work together (typically behind the scenes) in our parenting decisions. Everything must be very deliberate and thought out. Its been a challenge….but a good challenge.

    • avatar admin says:

      Is she 16, already?! I remember when you guys were just bringing her home about a year ago, Greg. Amazing. And I agree with talking it out behind the scenes to get on the same page. My other half sometimes will blurt out in front of the kids when I ask to have a moment in private, “If you want to say something, just say it!” He really, really doesn’t like drama… even when I have to remind that I am not the one creating the drama…. It is a whole different ballgame. Maybe I’m a glutton for punishment, but that’s why I bring up the issue of helping the kids. If it had all been about me, my needs, my dreams, etc., I think I may have thrown in the towel when the going gets tough. It’s cool to see how we all arrive at similar conclusions, even if from different starting points.

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