Tuesday, August 25, 2015

"They're Not Perfect"

Out of the five cats we've had, Bilbo is the closest to "perfect," and he doesn't cover in the litter box. (This wouldn't be a big deal, but he can be one stinky kitty! We've had him on supplements to help his digestive system.) Quickstep had a heart murmur, which eventually led to his death at age 8 (heart attack/build up of fluid around the heart). Mara was a spoiled brat about the litter box; if it didn't meet her standards, not just for being scooped but for having the litter replaced, she would find a spot she preferred, usually somewhere on the carpet. We tried all kinds of things, but in the end we mostly ended up trying to change the litter frequently enough to keep her happy. Right as we were about to fill out the paperwork to adopt Robin, he started suckling on my shirt, and the volunteer who had been helping us got this look on her face. She was clearly thinking, "Oh kitten, you've just gone and scotched this deal." Except he didn't - we adopted him anyhow. (Though I'm much more likely to tolerate Robin slurping on me than Husbandido is.) Then Robin came down very sick, needing to be syringe fed, and there was some question of how good his lung function would be when he recovered. My mother asked if we would keep him; I was appalled - of course we were keeping him! He was already ours. I've written about Biscuit's past before; even after 2 years with us, she is wary if we are standing up. She will come over for attention if we are seated, but standing humans are scary. Not a one of them has been "perfect."

"These aren't perfect kids," Rick, our main contact at the adoption agency, told us in an early conversation. As we have been researching the conditions listed on the Considerations page, that has been brought home. The conditions listed range from rickets to missing limbs, cleft palate to tuberculosis to Fetal Alcohol Syndrome. Trying to decide what we would and wouldn't consider has been a real struggle for us. It's not that we wouldn't love any child, but we are trying very hard to be realistic about what we can handle. Part of the struggle ties into the stereotypical experience of a couple that is expecting: "Are you hoping for a boy or a girl?" The commonly accepted response is "It doesn't matter, as long as he or she is healthy." (I have no clue what the response would be if the person said "A boy" or "A girl.") But healthy isn't an option; these kids are either coming from an abuse or neglect situation or they have real health problems or both. On some level, choosing what we will and won't consider almost feels like it has a eugenic edge to, as if is related to those who would abort a baby that wasn't "perfect." But on a practical note, there are limits to what insurance will cover and what we can afford to cover treatments for. 

Not that it's not possible, but a wheelchair-bound child would require moving; all the bedrooms in our house are upstairs, and the staircase is probably too narrow for a chair lift. There's the question of whether a special school would be required (such as The DePaul School or The Pittsburgh School for the Blind). If we adopted a severely disabled child, who would care for him or her after we die (or became unable to do so)? At this point, we are currently leaning towards hoping for a child or children whose conditions can be treated here, where there are more resources available, and that the child or children would eventually be capable of living independently. Unfortunately, time, money, and caregivers are limited for children in an orphanage. We have time, money, (insurance coverage,) and love to give. That doesn't make researching all the listed conditions on the Considerations page and deciding whether to check "Most Preferred," "Would Consider," or "Would Not Consider" any less heartbreaking.


  1. I can definitely relate to this! We are adopting domestically, so it's a bit different - but we still had to do the checklist of different disabilities, diseases, etc. and it was very gut-wrenching. We approached it the same way you are, thinking realistically about what we have to offer and whether we'd be reasonably able to take care of a child's needs. But it is hard! So many kids have so many needs.... praying for you as you work through this process.

  2. Oh my goodness yes! That checklist made us so uncomfortable. It's all so much to consider. Many prayers for y'all!