When people find out that we have adopted six children they usually have all sorts of questions. Often one of the first things people ask us is, “Why did you want to adopt?” Of course the second question is almost always “Why did you choose to adopt internationally?” The next questions are often “Is it hard? Is it expensive?” And finally, (if they are feeling bold) “Why did you adopt so many kids?”
Why Did You Want To Adopt?
People choose to adopt for a variety of reasons. Sometimes a women is unable to raise her child due to health or legal issues and a relative will step in to adopt and raise the child. Many Christians say that it is a calling. Others feel a sense of duty to help the most vulnerable in society. For many couples, infertility makes adoption the only option.
We decided to adopt for the following reasons:
- First and foremost, I would say that it was a calling to adopt a child, just as I was adopted by God.
- I was adopted as an infant, and Carrie’s mother and father were both adopted. Therefore, it seemed like a familiar and natural way to create our family.
- Carrie was very resistant to the idea of being pregnant and delivering a baby. It literally scared her to even think about it.
- We saw that there are many children all over the world who very much needed a mommy and daddy.
- We didn’t have a strong urge to perpetuate our genes. I realize that this is important to some people, but it wasn’t to us.
Why Did You Choose To Adopt Internationally?
As we prepared to adopt, we decided that we wanted to adopt two girls. I’m not really sure why girls, but we both agreed that girls it would be. Perhaps memories of my own youth scared me away from boys. My sister was very easy, while I might have been more of a challenge. OK, I was a pain in the backside.
Once we decided to adopt our two girls, we needed to figure what route we would take to complete our adoption or as it would turn out, adoptions.
The four most common ways to adopt are:
- Private adoption
- Private adoption by an extended family member
- Foster to Adopt
- International Adoption
It really didn’t take us all that long to decide to adopt internationally. Before I explain our reasons for doing so, I want to say that all four paths of adoption are equally valid. Each has it’s pros and cons, and I in no way promote one path over the other. I say this because what was right for us might not be right for someone else. Rather than point out the reasons that we didn’t pursue domestic adoption, I would like focus on the reasons that we did choose to adopt from China and the Democratic Republic of Congo.
- China’s one child policy which began in 1979 forced millions of parents to abandon children to orphanages. When we adopted Grace 10 years ago, most of these children were girls. Since we wanted two girls we thought this would be perfect for us. (It must be noted that in 2013 this policy was reversed and now most children abandoned in China are those with disabilities.)
- Because we were to be first time parents we were leery of adopting a child who might have fetal alcohol syndrome, drug dependency or psychiatric disability. Carrie and I didn’t think we would be prepared for that type of challenge. Since most abandoned children in China were in orphanages due to the one child policy, we felt more confident that this would not be an issue. In retrospect, I realize that adopting a child with disabilities would have been just as much of a blessing. We could have totally handled it.
- China Center for Children’s Welfare and Adoption (CCCWA) was a long established and efficient bureaucracy. When we started the adoption process, the wait time was only about six months from submission of paperwork to travel. This organization took pride in their work and did their best to do a good job. Many foreign countries were rife with corruption and many adoptions didn’t have positive conclusions. But this was not the case with CCCWA.
- Both of us have a deep love for the Chinese people and their ancient culture.
- We had no need for our children to look like us so we weren’t locked into domestic adoption.
- We knew several beautiful families who had adopted girls from China.
The democratic Republic of Congo
Carrie and I had so hoped that the CCCWA would match us with a pair of sisters or twins, but that was not to be. So about a year after bringing Grace home we started looking for a new place to adopt. We wanted to go back to China for another daughter. It was important (we thought) for Grace to have someone who looked like her and who had a similar background. Unfortunately, things had changed a great deal in the two years since we submitted our paper work for Grace’s adoption. Instead of six months, we ended up waiting two years for Grace to come home. Now just one year later, the wait was up to four years long.
With that in mind, Carrie and I started looking at different countries. We didn’t want Grace to be the only non-Caucasian in the family so we looked at other Asian and African countries.
One day Carrie stumbled onto a website for an aide group working in the Democratic Republic of Congo that had just begun to facilitate adoptions. We began to do research the country in order to learn more about it and quickly realized that this is where we needed to go to search for our second daughter. What we learned about children living in the Democratic Republic of Congo broke our hearts and solidified our resolve to adopt from there.
- Over five million people have died as a result of war in D.R.Congo since 1998. Many of them were children.
- Rape is rampant in D.R.Congo and is used as a tool of war. Many victims are little girls under the age of ten.
- D.R.Congo is one of the richest countries in the world when it comes to mineral deposits. Unfortunately, thousands of children are slaves in mines.
- D.R.Congo has been listed as the very poorest country in the world with an average annual salary of just over $300.
- Some estimate that there are as many as one million orphans living in D.R.Congo and that as many as 20,000 orphans wander the streets of Kinshasa, the capital.
This last point was the one that convinced us that we had to adopt from D.R.Congo. Even if it was only a drop in the ocean, we felt we had to do something.
Well there you have it, that’s why we decided to adopt from China and D.R.Congo. Two very different places and for very different reasons. Because of what we saw and experienced, we decided to adopt from D.R. Congo four more times. We had hoped to be a blessing to the five children that we adopted from there, but they have been so much more of a blessing to us.
Now, if you have already adopted, I’d love to hear your story. I think my other readers would as well. If you are thinking about adoption, what are your plans? We always welcome you to share your stories, experiences, ideas and questions. If you know someone who might be interested in this topic please share it with them as well.
Note: This is the first half of a two part article. Part two will address:
- Is It Hard to Adopt?
- Is Adoption Expensive?
- Why in the World Did You Adopt So Many Kids?
Until then, I think that I’ll open a craft beer and watch my children swim.