Wednesday, February 26, 2014

The Olympics, Adoption, and 5 Year Olds

Now that I have everyone convinced that I'm writing about a few different things, I'm here to convince you that no, there really is a connection between the Olympics, adoption, and 5 five year olds. 

Though we continue TTC, and realistically, we would prefer to not have to go through everything involved in adopting, we are still considering adoption. Having put some research into it, there are several reasons why we would not pursue domestic adoption. The simple fact is that there are more prospective adoptive parents than there are children in the U.S. available for adoption. Because of the way domestic adoptions are structured, you can be perfectly qualified and eligible to adopt, yet never be chosen by birth parents. (As one of the kids always chosen last for teams in gym class, I really feel no desire to spend more time sobbing "What's wrong with us? Why won't anyone pick us?" It's bad enough wondering if God thinks we would be terrible parents and that's why he won't let us conceive. [Please note that is a 'sometimes' thought, not a frequent one.]) There isn't necessarily a rhyme or reason to why one couple is chosen over another by birth parents; it could be their appearance, pets, other children, or any of a million other reasons. To spend all that money and all that time waiting with no guarantee that you will ever adopt would be something that I wouldn't tolerate well. There's also a roller coaster effect involved when your info is being shown to prospective birth parents; I'm getting quite enough of roller coasters with TTC, thank you. Knowing that any child whose birth parents chose to place him or her for adoption will be adopted leaves me feeling like we, specifically, are not needed as adoptive parents for a child born domestically. However, there are many children internationally who will not necessarily be adopted, who linger in orphanages. They have a real need for families. Of course international adoption is not within the financial reaches of many; thanks to family assistance, it would be possible for us. It seems like we could both do the most good by adopting internationally as well as be most comfortable with the process by doing so. (Because the children are already in the custody of the state/orphanage, there is no chance of birth parents changing their minds. The big risk instead is the country's policy or openness to international adoption changing during the course of the process.) Previously we had fallen in love with this agency and had planned to start the adoption process last year, if we hadn't succeeded by midsummer. Then Russia closed to U.S. adopters, leaving us wondering what to do and putting adoption on the far back burner. That agency has since added new programs in Khazakhstan, Bulgaria, and Ukraine, though more and more countries are limiting international adoption to older children and those with special needs.

Okay, so what do the Olympics have to do with adoption? Russia is closed to U.S. adopters; China has a wait time of 7 years. The countries with shorter wait times, who are more open to international adoptions, tend to be ones we are less familiar with. If asked, would you have any clue what someone from Kazakhstan looks like? Before the Olympics, I wouldn't have, either. I knew that Kazakhstan was a racially mixed country, and that most of the children available for adoption are of Eurasian descent, but that gave only a vague picture. Cue the Olympics. Watching men's figure skating (which I would have done anyhow), provided a great illustration of the range of ethnicities and appearances of the people of Kazakhstan. In case you missed it, or didn't pay that much attention, here are the two skaters from Kazakhstan. Denis Ten (first pic) looks nothing like I imagined someone from Kazakhstan to look (he is of Korean descent); Abzal Rakimgaliev (second pic) fit my preconceived notions better. 

Do appearances/ethnicities really matter to us in considering adoption? Not at all, though having some clue what to picture is helpful. I can't say that spending 2 or 3 months in Kazakhstan is particularly appealing, but understanding the reason for it makes a difference. (A 30 day bonding period is required by the government, so that the child becomes familiar and comfortable with his/her adoptive parents before leaving the orphanage and country.) 

That's two out of three - leaving only 5 year olds. Before this weekend, both Husbandido and I had a particular picture of 5 year olds, relevant since many countries are beginning to limit international adoptions to children 5 and older. We pictured walking into a kindergarten and bringing home a child (not in terms of process, but in terms of child development). Needless to say, it wasn't an appealing picture; not that a child is remotely grown up by 5, but that so much has already happened in establishing their personality and skills. It seemed like missing out on most of the cute and sweet years and getting mostly the sass and headaches of pre-teens, tweens, and teens. Hosting the gigantic family birthday party for my FIL, BIL, and step-great-nephew had us spending more time with said step-great-nephew, who is turning 5. After the party was over and we were laying in bed, we ended up pondering, "Is 5 that old? Would we consider adopting a 5 year old?" The revised answer seems to be yes, at least at the moment. (The fact that we continue to age may be part of it. I'll be 37 this year; Husbandido will be 39.) 10, however,  is way too old! As for anything in the middle, well, we haven't quite answered that question yet. Fortunately, we don't need to until we are ready to do something about adopting; for now, it's still in the realm of hypotheticals.


  1. How exciting! It sounds like God is really working on your hearts right now. I look forward to following your journey. It is a beautiful thing to have the financial ability to pursue intercountry adoption. You are so right that there are so many children abroad who need loving homes. It is safe to say there may be a child waiting for YOU. Oh and I just have to say, I understand never getting picked in gym class (I'm literally still traumatized from that). I would love to pursue intercountry adoption if my husband was at all open to it. Prayers for your journey!!!

  2. They do all connect! ;) I think it's beautiful the way that you are carefully considering everything before making a decision, and I love to see how some of your thoughts are working through all of this.

  3. While international adoption is not an option for us (we are still hoping domestic may be an option someday), I think those are beautiful reasons for adopting internationally!!! It was neat how the Olympics made me see even more the beautiful people all over the world, even in less heard of countries

  4. I think international adoption and domestic adoption both have their positives and negatives and it's really important to think though (as you have!) what's best for your own little family. Very excited to see where all this leads you guys! :D