This was a tough one for the adoption side of my world. Before you read this, IF YOU ARE WAITING, know that things can change at any time. Know that I don’t WANT any of you to hurt because of this. Know that I was not looking to be right, and there is no joy in sharing this. Know also, that I gave a LOT of thought before I decided to share it, but that I had to because first, I need to be honest, and second it DOES affect people waiting.
Some of you may recall that, a few months back, we hosted the Director and other delegates from the CCCWA in our home. We spent about 4 hours together. The time was meant for them to see an adoptive family in action, and to interact with them personally. That’s what we did. At the end of that visit, you do what do when visiting someone from far away, “Sure. When you come to town let me know. We would love to see you again.” Was it sincere? Yup. But there is always a “token” sort of gesture in that. So when the CCCWA Director told us to let him know when we came to China for our new daughter so that sure, maybe we could get together, we assumed it was a bit of lip service. Heck, even our agency owner was like, “that’s very nice but don’t expect anything.”
So we didn’t.
But we were wrong.
Two days before leaving we gave our agency owner the update on our dates. We only had two small, very small, windows during which we could visit the office of the CCCWA. Well, Director Li chose one. Thus, on the return side of our trip, the day before leaving for the States, we would be visiting the offices.
Our time together was delightful. It was our whole family, along with our guide. We saw several of the delegates, along with his interpreter, the Assistant Director, an official photographer, etc. We did the formal gift exchange. We sat at the conference table. We talked.
Or mostly, he talked. He asked my kids questions about what they liked best about China, to which they all gave a resounding vote for the food, with “getting baby Marlowe” as a close second. He asked us what we had done in China, where we had gone, and our experience of the adoptive process. We shared very openly. He then really looked at Marlowe, and started speaking. He asked about her health, her adjustment, her attachment. Wonderful questions from a man in charge who could be very removed from the process because he is at the top of the administrative level. But his care and concern for the baby came through very clearly. I was quite touched, and moved to tears almost by his sincere joy at our family’s happiness and the health and wellbeing of my daughter.
Then he spoke for a while.
Several times his interpreter looked at him sharply, hesitating before translating his comments. Then our interpreter would look at them and then at us. He was, well, very very open about the intention of China, the focus on the adoption process and where it is now going, and even made implications about its goal.
He was passionate and focused. And I was both happy and sad, sad and happy.
Those of us in the realm of the adoption community have of course seen all the signs for this, at least those willing to acknowledge it. There is an acute shortage of girls in China. There is a lightening up of the one child policy. Domestic adoption is on the rise. There are changes happening, and we have been watching it happen for a couple of years. Then very early this year we watched the referral numbers change. It affected us. No agencies would own or discuss it. In fact, some promoted against it. Why? Because the Chinese adoption process is inconstant at best, and always changing. But some things you can see….just like the slowdown and the eventual end of the non special needs process….if you look carefully, and are open, you could see it. The girl files?? They were not coming in. And the majority of girl files coming in? Special focus with far greater needs.
A lot of debate has gone on about this. At first, I would participate. People needed to be prepared!! But then I realized some did not want to. Or some were hopeful! Or some, well, who knows….but I stopped. Anyone looking at and studying the numbers, the referrals, etc could see the change. So I have known this for 7-8 months. BUT.
Having it confirmed, well, that I was not expecting. And like I said, that makes me both happy and sad.
The fact is, and this is paraphrased but stayed pretty true as we even recorded part of it, “China wants to keeps its girls. We need our girls. We have let too many of them go. Our children in general. We are still for now adopting children out. But these will only be the girls, well, the children, who have great medical needs. America is very good about this. You have many doctors and many people to help these children. Your families will love these children. Some agencies work very hard to place these children and we are glad to have them find homes. But your daughter was very lucky. She is quite healthy. She would be in China right now.”
There was more, and like I said that is a paraphrase, although very close to the reality of what was said. I was pretty shocked. To hear these things get said so openly in a country and with an organization not exactly known for its “openness” with its clients and with families….this was shocking to me. Ken was floored. As the Director spoke to someone for a moment, Ken leaned over and said, “Um, he is saying that they are going to be stopping adoptions????” That is even how he heard it. Me? I heard that adoptions will continue. But it will be the greater medical needs for all children eventually, with that happening right now for girls. And eventually, who knows…
When we were dossier to China (DTC) and then logged in (LID), we had been told to expect a very quick match. That was literally however when it happened. The slowdown. Our MCC was actually pretty broad. We were open to multiple needs, all minor to moderate. And it had been on file at that point for over 20 months. It took another 4 months….unheard even a few months before this….to wait so long for this many needs…
That has remained.
Yes, a few “healthier” girl files still come in. But what before were “mild to moderate” needs are now considered healthy girls, with files being given to the folks still waiting in the NSN line. And a few more slip through here and there. But the numbers don’t lie.
Some agencies do.
Choosing an agency moving forward as this process changes, yet again, is going to be vital. There are agencies literally saying they are getting the minor needs files in when others don’t get them. This is just not happening. And current traveling families are sadly discovering this.
For the record I am going to say something very important. And for this I may get skewered. The fact is, I am happy. I am happy we are not getting these files. The fact is these are NOT our children. They are China’s sons and daughters. We have been beyond blessed that she, China, has shared her children with us. But we are not entitled to them. We are not owed any kinds of files. We are not owed any rights.
Do I disagree with things still going on in China? How and why there is such a huge increase in domestic adoption? Some of the issues surrounding it all? Yes. I do still disagree and I do still struggle. But I know my place. And that is to respect and understand that China has a right to her own children and that staying with birth families or in birth communities where these beautiful children will never lose site of their ethnicity, heritage, culture…..that is what is best.
But Leah, what about saving the orphans?
***commence the skewering***we were never told to save anyone. We were told to care for the widows and the orphans. We were told to care FOR THE LEAST OF THESE. To care for someone or something means to wish the best for him, for her, for them, and to give to the needs without an expectation of “ownership” as some would imply with adoption (falsely of course). Caring for the least of these does not mean adopting them, or if we took those Bible verses in context and properly we would be giving homes to the widows, homes to newly released felons, homes to the homeless. But instead we meet this one with the added convenience of building our families. We should not adopt because we are called to save an orphan. We should adopt if we are called to a child for our family. Yes, I am a woman of faith. Yes, I believe I was “called” to adopt my daughters. But not to save them. I am a greedy woman and I want a large family and right now there are needs across the globe for children and homes. It happens to match up. That’s it. I, we, people of faith, whatever, are NEVER told to save anyone. Only one guy in the entire history of the world was told to do that, and I assure you it ain’t you or me. I was CALLED to grow my family through this process. But I am additionally called to care for orphans by sponsorship, donating to medical orphanages, helping maintain birth families when possible. I am also called to give and serve the homeless. To provide opportunity for those without it. Resources. Gifts. Prayer. And more. I believe adoption is an absolutely wonderful way to build a family. But it is indeed born out of loss and we can not ever forget that, nor can we rely on the need to save anyone. Not our job, not our calling, and never ever, EVER was. So to not have that loss in the first place is almost always better, and that is what is starting to happen and for that? We should rejoice.
Consider that this is NOT ABOUT US. I don’t say this casually. “Yes you are Leah. You just came home with your daughter.” No. I don’t. Why? Because I said it before I got my referral. Before I had my match. While I waited, crying at night, knowing the matches were few and far between because the greater needs are NOT something my family can manage based on where we live, family dynamics, and more. We have our girl now, and she is perfect for us. Your child is somewhere, perfect for you too. He or she just might look very different than you envision.
I have delayed posting this because I think of two women in particular, for whom I care very much, waiting and waiting and WAITING. And oh my gosh the wait is beyond brutal….for those not in it…you can not even imagine. I have also delayed because I wanted to share everything with the owner of my agency. They are aware….have seen it but have of course been hopeful. Moving forward will look different, maybe not now, but soon enough. If your agency is telling you differently, you need to reconsider some things, or ask some tough questions. Because yes, this is accurate. Yes, this was the discussion. It IS hard for me….China and I have a complicated relationship. There are things I don’t discuss (amazing right??) because they belong to my kids ONLY. Our first adoption….different than this one. So I love China. I am also very wary of the country as well. But China will always be beautiful to me. China made my family complete. Whole. Final. And I will ALWAYS be grateful and respect her for that. But I want things changed for the better, for the children. And that means some of us will hurt in all of this. But isn’t that our goal? The children? If we focus on this part, then everything else will be ok. It will. Cling to that.