The other week, in my not so perfect breakdown, I went on a bit of rant about the hard decisions that anyone contemplating adoption has to make. Decisions that seem so insane the first time I started thinking about them. In fact, many of the decisions felt inherently wrong and 100% politically incorrect. (That said, it does seem like many of the decisions we have been faced with thanks to recurrent pregnancy loss are slightly insane).
he insane adoptions decisions I’m talking about are decisions like:
- Race – what race are my husband I be willing to adopt?
- Alcohol/Drug consumption – what level of alcohol and drug consumption on behalf of the birth mother are we willing to accept?
- Premature birth – how premature of a birth are we willing to accept?
Decisions like this just seem so difficult for me. My first reaction is, what do you mean what race will I accept? This is actually a choice? Or, premature births, why should I get to choose that, when if I had the child myself I would not get a say in this?
Either way, it is what it is. So here we are thinking seriously about our answers to each question becuase the fact is if we choose to pursue adoption, we have to make these decisions.
We suck it up, we check the boxes and we make peace with the decisions regardless of the outcome.
But (oh, how I love the word but – the use of the word instantly recognizes the complications of the situation) …
But, intertwined with these decisions is the very critical decision of domestic vs international adoption. So, today I’m going to talk about my straight-forward, matter of fact opinions on the merits of domestic vs. international adoption. Remember, these are just my opinions based on hours of reading over the last few months – I am not citing anything, because I don’t recall exactly where I got each fact, just that I have been mentally compiling them for months now. Anyways, there are thousands of resources out there to review if someone wants academic opinions.
Domestic Open Adoption
|Race||Check boxes on the application forms of which races you are willing to accept. (Father’s race may or may not be known)||Choose the country you plan to adopt from and choose the race and ethnicity of the child.|
|Age||Almost always adopt an infant.||This varies depending on the country. It is virtually impossible to get an infant through international adoption due to international requirements for the birth counties to try to place the child within the birth country first. One way to adopt a younger child is by accepting a child with physical disabilities.|
|Premature Birth||Check a box which indicates your willingness to accept a premature birth.||Unknown.|
|Medical History||Usually have birth mother’s medical history. Sometimes have birth father’s medical history||Unknown. Medical testing is available to confirm current medical condition of the child.|
|Birth Mother Alcohol and Drug Use||Check a box to indicate your preference – low, medium or high||Unknown; however, there are many statistics on the occurrence based on the county (i.e. Eastern Block countries have higher FAS ratios then Southeast Asia).|
|Birth Parent Involvement||Open adoption. Involvement can vary from sending letters/photos to weekly visits. This is not set out in a contractual agreement in my province, so it is hard to say exactly what this will look like through the life of the child.||None.|
|Wait Times||Average 3 years. Usually there are about 300 families on the wait list, with about 40-50 adoptions occurring per year.||Depends on the country. Usually about 3 years.Your willingness to accept a child with physical disabilities (which may or may not be fixable/treatable in Canada) will typically speed up the adoption process quite substantially.|
|Psychological Support for Birth Families||This service is required as part of the adoption process and is offered after the adoption is complete should the birth family wish to use it (although, apparently, most chose not to).||Depends on the country, but is generally not available to the same level as would be for birth parents in Canada.|
|Cost ($)||Approx. 13,000-15,000||
So, there are probably about 100 different ways to interpret the above chart, to help us make a decision.
In my rational mind, domestic adoption outweighs international adoption. For me, there appears to be less risk because there is much more known about the birth mother and birth family. There are also the clear benefits of the child having connection with their birth family. Oh, and we clearly cannot overlook the financial element – domestic adoption is clearly much more affordable.
Yet, I also think the benefits of international cannot be overlooked. First, my husband and I are pretty reserved individuals, the idea of opening our house up to birth parents on a potentially weekly basis really doesn’t interest us. We’ve chosen to live a number of hours away from our parents because we like our freedom and we like keeping to ourselves, so the idea of completely changing our lifestyle to accommodate a larger birth family, isn’t a top priority for us, I’m pretty sure that it doesn’t even make the priority list. The only way to avoid this potential issues altogether is to choose international adoption. Secondly, our private financial information is not shared beyond that of the adoption agency of the adoptive countries government agencies. We do not have to open our private details up to birth parents to know the most private details of our lives including our address and our income. Thirdly, although my husband continues to remind me, we are not turning to adoption to save the world, I cannot overlook the fact that I see international adoption as helping a child that really needs help. Helping a child that may live its entire childhood in an institution, if not for an international adoption by people like us. Making a tremendous impact on the child’s life. If we are going to roll the dice on cognitive development, why not change the life of a child who really needs it? (I’m not trying to say that domestic open-adoption isn’t helping a child – I’m just saying it is not the same type of need. The reality is, that if we don’t pursue domestic adoption, 300 other potential adoptive parents are already on the wait list at any given time. So, we aren’t “needed” in the same way).
Anyways, again, I have no answers (wow, this sure is the theme of all my adoption posts), but what I do have is knowledge (in the form a chart and spreadsheets, because that’s just how I think). And, what this means, is we can easily see the pros and cons (as defined by us) of each type of adoption, which will be a valuable tool for us as we work to make a final decision regarding the possibility of adoption.
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