Note: November is National Adoption Month. Throughout the month, I highlighting the stories of families touched by adoption. I am starting with our story. I am dividing it in to parts, this is the story of why we chose adoption and how we came to adopt from China.
I am often asked why we chose adoption. As with many questions, the answer is both easy and complicated.
After Frink and I got married, we decided to try for a family right away. I was 29 at the time and thought it would be perfect to have my children in my early thirties. It fit right in with the life I had always dreamed of. But life does not always go according to our plans.
We tried to have children for seven years, yes seven. That time was filled with charts, calculations and computers. There were doctors visits and tests with no definitive diagnosis. With fingers crossed and breath held, we thought that maybe this would be it. We thought that over and over again and we were always wrong.
Finally, we had had enough. We did not want to give up on our dream of a family so that left us with two choices, fertility treatments or adoption. I knew people who had successful pregancies with fertility treatments and those who had not. Given the emotionial roller coaster of the past seven years, I could not subject myself to something that might not work. Fertility treatments were out.
So we started to consider adoption. The more we looked into it, it felt right. There were so many children waiting for families (by some estimates 147,000,000 worldwide), just as we were waiting for a child. There were children in foster care waiting for permanent homes. There were children being born every day to parents who could not care for them and were looking for a loving home for their child. There were children in orphanages around the world. We could be parents to one of those children.
After deciding on adoption, we had to determine which path was right for us. There are arguments to be made in favor of and against both domestic (either private or foster to adopt) and international adoptions. The more we researched the subject, the more we talked to families, the clearer it became that international adoption was right for us at the time.
Next came a decision on which country. There are adoption programs in so many different countries in different areas of the world, Asia, Europe, Africa, Latin America. How do you choose?
Well if you are like me, or a crazy person, it may go something like this. I began to notice how many adoptive children there were in our area. I stopped total strangers in the grocery store. I asked anyone and everyone who had an acquaintance who had adopted about their story. I read books, watched documentaries and did tons of research. I looked at the pros and cons of each country, the stability of the program, the number of trips required etc. I had adoption on the brain.
All of these paths kept leading me back to China. China. I knew of the situation there. The One Child Policy and a cultural preference for boys meant that there were thousands of girls waiting in orphanages. I knew without a doubt that one of those girls was our daughter.
For me so much of the process was like this. No matter how many roads there are, no matter how many doors are open, we always ended up on the proper road going through the right door. Another family with similar circumstances may have chosen a different road or a different door. This was the right one for us, the one that led us to Bunny.
In late 2004, we took a leap of faith. We submitted our paperwork to adopt from China. The decision on how and when we would have a child was no longer in our hands (not that it ever really was). It was now in the hands of social workers here and governemental officals half way around the world in China.
The homestudy was done. We were fingerprinted. Our backgrounds were checked. Paperwork was notarized, authenticated and certified. Our dossier was completed. On July 23, 2005 it was logged into the Chinese system and our wait for a referral began.
Waiting for an adoption referral is a lonely time. You know a baby is coming but there is no outward manifistation, no tell tale bump. Your friends cannot commiserate, they don't really understand. So you turn to the adoption community. We joined a local Families With Children From China group. We went to events and saw girls who had been adopted. It made it so much more real. These girls had come home, our daughter would too.
The process in China is very organized. Everything moves based on your log in date. The files move with others that were logged in on the same date. You can judge your process by looking at those before you. Referrals come in batches from X date to Y date. In the beginning they were coming every two weeks but then slowed to once a month. What was thought to be a six to nine month wait stretched out past the year mark.
When I saw that families with May 2005 and June 2005 had recieved referrals, I knew that we were next. Then the announcement came, CCAA had matched families through July 22nd. We were one day short and would have to wait another month. Families on the internet support groups were announcing their matches. I had to turn away, I was happy for them but sad for myself. But just when I was prepared to wait yet another month, I got a call. I got THE CALL. We had recieved a referral for a beautiful seven month old girl. Thirteen months after our paperwork had been logged in and almost two years after we had started the process, we were going to be parents.
You can read about our journey to meet Bunny in China here, here and here.