Image courtesy of stoonn / FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Dear Curious Onlooker,
When our children from hard places come to us (whether through domestic or international adoption or foster care), they usually come with little more than the clothes on their back. When children experience the “miracle of adoption,” they lose everything familiar first. However, they do come with an important intangible…their story.
It also happens that you (friends, family, and perfect strangers of adoptive and foster families) are often drawn to our kids’ stories. Maybe it’s just human nature, but stories are captivating. There seems to be an innate curiosity about non-traditional families–especially how they came to be.
This is where it gets tricky. How do we protect their children’s stories, which may be the only thing they have left to themselves, while still respecting you?
Most likely we’ll answer in generalities or decline to answer all together. If that happens, please know that it’s not about how much we trust you or like you or even how much we know, we are just trying to preserve the one thing our children can control giving away.
If you’re genuinely seeking information about the orphan crisis or about adoption and foster care, please ask general questions. Each child’s story is unique so asking about my child specifically won’t really get you an accurate representation of what’s going on anyway.
Here are some answers to questions you may have floating around:
- Children are available for adoption for many reasons–death, poverty, disease, addiction, joblessness. You really don’t need to know which one applies to our family.
- There are orphans in every country (including ours), of every age, and both genders. A “healthy” child is not necessarily an easier placement than a child with known special needs. Bringing kids into your home requires enormous sacrifice no matter what. There is no easy adoption.
- The cost of being properly licensed and approved to bring children into your house is expensive. For the U.S. foster care system, the government foots the bill. In all other cases, families are responsible for fees associated with security clearances, home studies, medical care, legal services, travel, and general administrative work. Each country has a different process. If you are interested in adoption or foster care, contact your local placement agency. The cost of our adoption will mean nothing in calculating the cost of yours.
- On the financial note. Most families do not have the money they need when they start the process. The majority of adoptive families are not rich. That’s where all that adoptive fundraising comes in…and the grace of God.
- Birthparents are not the enemy and many adoptive families have great relationships with birth families to the benefit of the children. It’s hard to come to terms with adults who mistreat children until you realize they are just mistreated children in adult bodies. Our compassion level for them should be the same as it is for their victims.
- No matter where a child was before coming into our home (institution, foster care, or on the streets…U.S. or abroad), there is a hard transition. The transition has ups and downs and lasts a LONG time. Our children are not necessarily better off in the U.S., nor are they lucky to be here when you consider how much they lost to get here. If you ask how we’re doing, you will probably get a pat answer because the truth is too complicated.
- Our children want to be known for who they are, not how they came into our family.
- It doesn’t really matter if our children are related biologically. We are all related, as one family coined, bio-God-gically.
We understand you may never have stopped to consider how important protecting our children’s story is which is why this letter is so important.
Thanks for taking the time to love our children well.
Adoptive Families Near and Far