The Road to Adoption Can Be a Lonely Road
We are well into our adoption journey at this point, and yet, we are just at the very beginning of it all. But, one thing has really struck me about adoption – it is very lonely being a potential adoptive parent.
Adoption is not a common thing, and international adoption is even rarer. In fact, a whopping total of 1946 children were adopted internationally in Canada in 2010, and of that 148 came from the USA (Source: Adoption Council of Canada). For the sake of argument, I am going to make the assumption that the numbers have remained relatively the same in the last few years. This means, at most, for any given year, across the entire country we have 148 couples (assuming all those adopting are couples, which I realize is very unlikely) that understand what we are going through. And, that number is bound to be substantially smaller if we look just at those doing international adoptions from within my province. Amazingly, I have met one couple, but that’s it.
To further illustrate my point about the isolation of being a potential adoptive parent, let’s take a quick look at the domestic adoptions occurring in my province. About 50 children are placed each year locally.
I acknowledge I’m not using the best data to compare, but what the data is illustrating to me, is we have a really small pool of people to network with in real life!
And it means that very few people in our real lives have actually been touched by adoption directly – we are the first. While everyone is constantly excited for us, or at least most people are, no-one knows what to say. Adoption in and of itself means that the standard expecting announcement questions like how far along are you, aren’t appropriate. So, beyond stating that they are excited for us, almost everyone seems to be at a loss for what to say. And that’s when the slightly awkward questioning starts. We face a slew of questions, some more ridiculous then others:
Will your child be disabled?
How much will your child cost you?
How long do you have to wait to get a child?
What does open mean? Do you really want your child to know their birth parents?
Will your child be another race?
So-and-so’s third cousin was adopted and they have bad temper tantrums, is this because they were adopted?
We have rather quickly realized that the questioning isn’t an attempt to be rude or ignorant, rather it comes from a place of lack of awareness, some curiosity and a genuine interest and desire to understand. We are polite with our answers, and are taking it upon ourselves to educate and share the truth about adoption.
But, what this all means is that we are constantly feeling rather alone. Somehow it seems a bit funny to me that recurrent pregnancy loss resulted in us feeling very isolated, and now adoption is doing the exact same thing, just in a slightly different way. I don’t have the statistics to prove my point, but what I can deduce using my infertility / RPL data is that if infertility affects 1 in 8, that means that a couple million Canadians experienced infertility of some sort every year. And, of those experiencing infertility 1% face recurrent pregnancy loss specifically which therefore means that at least a couple thousand women a year experiencing RPL.
So, it seems to be that infertility is more common than RPL, and RPL is more common than international adoption from the USA. So, we find ourselves moving from one very rare circumstance to another one. Which means we find ourselves moving from one potentially isolating situation to another.
But this time, we are a bit more “lucky.” We’ve learned through the last few years about just how horrible it is to be socially isolated. RPL has taught us that living in an isolated world is not much fun. So, we are taking that lesson to heart and we are taking a much different approach from the onset – we are telling people and we are actively seeking out those who are walking a similar adoption path. I am slowly (too slowly in my opinion) connecting with a few wonderful adoptive parents who are blogging about their experiences. And we are seeking out real life adoptive parents and/or waiting adoptive parents to learn from and hopefully build friendship with.
We are actively looking for connections within the adoption circle so that we can be surrounded by like-minded people, who understand the unique journey we are on as we look to adopt.
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