I recently had coffee with a friend of mine, and we were talking about how Michael and I came to the decision that we wanted to adopt a child. Typically, when people find out we’re adopting, their first reaction is to congratulate us, and their second reaction is to ask why. In the last year, I’ve heard a lot of phrases like the ones below, before I can even begin to explain:
“Don’t worry — there are many paths to being a family.“
“Oh, I totally understand, I had fertility issues, too.“
“But you’re going to have your own kids after, right?”
People want to connect, and sometimes the only way they know how is by reaching for shared experiences. My hope with this post is that I can show you why we chose adoption as our first plan to making a family, not as a back-up plan. My other hope is that, maybe, I can help inspire you to choose adoption as your plan A, too.
First thing’s first — we don’t have fertility issues
We did not choose to adopt our son because we were unable to have biological children. The reality is, we’ve talked about maybe having a biological child one day, but we made the very conscious effort to adopt Y. first. We did this because we never wanted him to feel like there was even a chance he was a second option, and instead, that he has always been part of our family plan.
Our experience is in no way meant to invalidate anyone else’s experience. My heart aches for people who want biological children and struggle with that process. But that’s not our story and I cannot speak to what that story is like for others.
But why adoption?
For us, we believe that adoption is the most sustainable option for our planet. You don’t have to believe me, but you should consider believing scientists. We have a climate crisis on our hands, and we’re not currently leaving the world better than we found it. Because of this, we aren’t confident in wanting to bring another person into the world to inherit what we’ve created, especially since we don’t know how long our planet can sustain itself at the rate we’re going.
According to UNICEF, there are nearly 140 million orphans (children under the age of 18) worldwide. What happens to those 140 million orphans as the planet deteriorates? For us, if we know we want to be parents and have the resources to support a child, then we believe we have a responsibility to help. Could you imagine if every family who could adopt a child, would adopt a child?
OK. But why China?
Why not China?
We, collectively, should avoid ranking the world’s orphaned children, but I do understand that it can be difficult to choose where to adopt from once you’ve made the decision. For us, this was twofold:
- We didn’t know if, at the time we were making the decision to adopt, we were confident and comfortable with the child’s living relatives or parents being close to where we live. This spoke more about us and our belief in our own abilities than it does about the need. We’ve learned now that this may be unfounded, and we’ve talked about the possibility of fostering or adopting domestically later on in our lives.
- Once we made the decision to adopt, China was truly the only country that accommodated a parent having an anxiety disorder. Sadly, this isn’t as accepted yet in other places, even if it is well managed.
All in all, we’ve always been a multi-cultural family (I’m Iranian and I write about that here). Growing up as a half-Iranian woman in Texas, I’ve understood some of the challenges with fitting in and finding yourself in your own culture, so we feel equipped to help and foster that cultural identity in our son.
Don’t you worry about being loved by your adopted child?
Love has nothing to do with blood. Sit with that and think about the people you love and support who aren’t related to you by blood. Our son is our son. Blood doesn’t make a family. Period.
On the flip-side, as adoption advocates, we also need to be keenly aware that the ultimate goal should be reunification if it’s best for the child, which means finding ways to strengthen familial bonds before parents feel they need to put their child up for adoption; provide economic empowerment to underserved communities; and affordable access to medical care. When those options aren’t possible for the child’s situation, or there’s no living family to reunify with, that’s where we believe adoption should come in as a final option.
Let’s normalize this dialogue
All in all, we know that our take on adoption is much more secular and practical in nature, but it’s not filled with any less love. There are so many incredible families I know who have considered this. In the end, I promise you that your home and your heart are big enough.
Let’s keep the dialogue going and normalize the conversation around adoption as a first choice. If you have a question, leave a comment or reach out to me directly. I hope I can be a resource for you along the way.