Friday, April 21, 2006

The Next Best Thing?

Adoptions from China have been slowed down. Families have been waiting for what must feel like an eternity, only to find out they will have to wait longer. This wait, in large part due to the volume of American families trying to adopt from China, has led to speculation that more restrictions will be put in place (health) and that quotas will be reinstated a la the early 2000s.

This led one blogger (N.O.) to revisit the issue of the "Pain Olympics" (that contest to determine who had experienced the most loss in order to determine who is most entitled to, it seems, both a child and the respect that must be accorded survivors of tremendous loss) with a twist: If there were additional quotas (there are already restrictions on the number of singles who may adopt), she asked, who should get priority? People with infertility and no children, people with one child (bio or adopted), etc.

In months past this would have led to great ugliness, but only led to a little. Most agreed that while it may seem fair to give the baby to the one with no child, there's also something really icky about taking such a stance. Most people seemed to think it should be what's best for the child, while recognizing that this is difficult in a situation where potential parents are considered largely in the abstract (hence quotas and health restrictions). And some thought that parents who don't yet have a child would be the best family for each child. But this is just the set up to what's actually important to me right now: As an adoptive mother, I've had to accept that all else being equal, I am the next best thing for my child.

One of the comments on the above discussion cited something I've heard before, and something I think matters a lot. A transracial, transcultural adoptive parent is actually the fifth best thing - in the abstract. First, a healthy, strong, capable and enabled first family. Then kinship care. Then domestic placement. Then international placement in a same race family. Then international placement in an other-race family.

I know that I.'s first family loves/loved her deeply. And in Ethiopia's case, kinship care would certainly be the next choice, but famine and illness have destroyed whole extended families and any sort of care that village that it takes would otherwise provide.

I'm okay with the fact that in the abstract, we are far from the ideal situation for I. because in the particular, we're just right for each other - so long as I keep the other in mind.

No comments: