I have been tagged by the fabulous Sopapilla to write about our decision to adopt from China. I've read the rest of the thread with great interest, and have talked about this topic on many occasions. But for some reason I have agonized over this post. Perhaps because it leaves me feeling a bit vulnerable?
When I think about why we made the decision to adopt from China, I think that our reasons were not that different from many others'.
I feel like I need to start at the beginning of our quest to start a family and explain how we came to the decision to adopt for this all to make sense. Because our decision was the result of our experience of trying to build a family. Or maybe I just want to start there, as six years later, it is cathartic to tell my story.
We started trying to conceive in August 2000. I was young (just turned 28!), healthy, and had no reason to believe that I wouldn't get pregnant easily. I was very much in love with MT (still am btw), my feelings had evolved regarding having children and I wanted to give it a try. I was curious about pregnancy, and very much enamored with the romantic notion of breastfeeding.
Three and a half years later we had been through the ringer. We had been through Clomid, IUIs, injectables, and five or six ivf cycles. I learned that I was a DES daughter. I lost three pregnancies along the way, each in dramatic fashion with emergency surgeries and increasingly rare conditions (I was a hit at the teaching hospital though- "hey med students- would you look at *this*! This never happens."). MT and I were battered and bruised. I had become intensely invested in carrying a pregnancy, giving birth and nursing a child. I wasn't too upset about losing a biological connection, but I wanted the pregnancy experience.
I had started to look in to adoption early in the infertility treatment cycle process. I felt like I needed to explore the options and have a plan. I'm a planner by nature. I hate to admit it now, but adoption felt like a last resort. An option for someone else. I could not imagine treatment failing - it was my worst fear. I could not imagine adopting a child...because of course treatment was going to work for us.
At the time I remember feeling this way and discussing it with my therapist. Looking back it did not make much sense. You see, my two older siblings were adopted into my family and I had a very positive experience with adoption in my very own family. I was the third child - the "surprise" bio-kid. Growing up my mother was ahead of her time. I never remember being told that my siblings were adopted, I always *knew*. And it was never an issue in our family, although perhaps not discussed often enough. I never felt like I received special treatment, and none if us played the adoption vs. bio kid card. No, really. And somewhere in the recesses of my mind I always felt like I would consider adoption for my own family.
So it seemed natural that I could rationally consider adoption as a way to build my own family. But it was as if starting the process to have a biological child and then NOT being able to succeed at that made me want it all the more. And for some reason I couldn't let go of the romantic notion I had of laboring and delivering an adorable bundle of joy for MT. I wanted to do that for him. I remember feeling an extreme and soulful sadness that I could not do this for MT.
We spent another 6 months pursuing treatment, and it was during this time period that my feelings began to change, again. I was tired of putting our lives on hold. I was tired of needles, drugs, bloating, cramping, wondering, waiting, and avoiding friends and family. I was tired of hating everyone else who seemed so happy. I wanted to feel something other than complete hopelessness.
I continued to read and learn about all types of adoption. At that point I was interested in adoption from China, but MT was not yet ready to make the leap to considering adoption. He was not ready to let go of the chance that he might have a son (we thought we could only adopt girls from China). We were also both a little unsure of how it would feel to be a conspicuous family.
Then one weekend in August, 2004, MT and I traveled back to my hometown and spent time at my brother's house. We spent a lot of time on the floor playing with my 18-month old niece (Sam). My brother and sil adopted Sam domestically. She is an amazing kid. MT and I were so smitten with her and even talked about how lucky we'd feel to parent a child like Sam. As we watched Sam with my brother and sister-in-law, adoption started to feel like something we really could do. Sam was helping us understand a little better what being an adoptive family could feel like.
That same weekend we visited an old college friend of mine. Her neighbor stopped by while we were visiting and was with her 15-month old daughter who had been adopted from China. Again we were smitten with this child and a little awed as we watched her cling to her mother. They seemed so, well, normal. Like any child and mother. We weren't looking at them as a conspicuous family, we were looking at them as a family.
These two simple encounters had such a profound impact on our decision to adopt from China. It's a little funny to me because in the years prior to this we had attended adoption conferences, information seminars, and agency introduction meetings. I had read books, talked to adoptive parents, talked to my own family, talked to my therapist, and cried to MT until even he was tired of hearing about my feelings.
At the end of that weekend, MT and I came home and sat on our front porch. We had just finished our seventh (failed) ivf a month prior. We were considering gestational surrogacy, but weren't feeling very motivated about that decision. But as we talked that evening it became clear that we were finally on the same page: we wanted to stop this madness and have a child. As quickly as possible.
We had researched international adoption already, and China just seemed obvious to us. We'd been to an introductory session on international adoption the week prior, and China had jumped out at us then. "Why not," we said. There are children there who need families, and damn-it, we want to be a family. We felt like we had the resources to love and provide for a child...any child who needed us. We just wanted that child to come home, pronto.
So at the time it came down to three things for us:
1. Timing. China seemed predictable in terms of the timing. The time line for Sam's adoption was verrryyyyy long and this was a big turn-off for us when we considered domestic adoption. We wanted a child now and didn't want our time line to be indefinite.
2. Control over loss. Adopting from China felt to us like we were taking back a bit if control over the situation. We could not bear the idea of a birthmother changing her mind on us. We understood that this is a risk inherent in domestic adoption, and it was not a risk we were willing to take after losing three pregnancies. With an adoption from China it seemed like we would be guaranteed a baby in the end - which is what we desperately wanted.
3. We liked China. We liked the idea of traveling and getting the opportunity to explore China, and Chinese culture. I had always dreamed of traveling to Asia, and now it would happen. I was willing to accept the responsibility of incorporating Chinese culture into my life, for the rest of my life.
So we turned in our application on September 7, 2004. It still felt surreal to me at that point. It was as if we were still trying our decision on for size. But the more we talked about it, the more it felt right.
So that's my story - and even though it's not a pretty one, I wouldn't change a thing. We met the fabulous and amazing LT on November 14, 2005.
I'd like to tag Deanna at Hope Springs for link 9 of the Why China? thread (started by Johnny). We adopted at roughly the same time and I remember finding her blog early in the process as I waited. I'd check her blog often, hoping she had some piece of news that my agency did not. Now I'd like to know more of her decision-making process!
To read more "Why China?" visit these blogs: