Thursday, June 19, 2008

Money, Money, Money

I'm so sorry I haven't returned to this sooner. A herniated cervical disk has made typing painful (true story -- since my daughter knows it has stopped me from blogging, she tells people I "can't work because of her broken computer disk.")

The other things that has kept me from addressing this with the seriousness it requires are daily life with my daughter and the seriousness it requires itself.

We adopted because we wanted another child, wanted Little Bun to grow up with a sibling or siblings. That decision preceded a program or country decision. I've written about our ill-fated efforts at domestic adoption (the burning building post, which bizarrely, has grown legs, and I find it all over the internet!). Briefly, this was our first realization that some (most?) relinquishments were not *necessary* in the way that I had imagined them to be. We chose to proceed with an adoption from Ethiopia in part in response to that and in part in response to Little Bun's need for some predictable outcome. He suffered the uncertainty far worse than his parents for a time.

Our decision to pursue adoption from Ethiopia, then, started out with the desire for another child, *followed by* our desire to make that adoption as ethical and necessary as possible. We chose Ethiopia because we needed to believe that it could not/should not have been another way for our child. Given HIV, high maternal death rates due to complicated pregnancies and deliveries (on the decrease, thank God, in just the last two years), malnutrition, extreme poverty . . . we would be able to tell our child that it could not have been another way (we thought). That is, the problems were far more complex than a handful of money could solve, even for one child. The cost of one adoption could not replace a child's lost parents, reduce the stigma of having an HIV positive parent or a single mother in a culture far less amenable to such an arrangement than ours, could not fix medical conditions we were open to or access to medical or lifelong care that could be provided here etc. In the coming months children may be relinquished due to a lack of drinkable water, certainly because of a lack of basic nourishment. I worry, as I had before we received our referral for dd, that a child's relinquishment may the a permanent solution to a temporary problem, as I've seen often now in domestic adoption. But then I also know that our child came to us clearly dehydrated, malnourished, failing to thrive, and a few sicknesses resolving, but very clearly loved. Her story is clearer cut than many, but not as clear cut as we imagined. Would even a fraction of the money it cost us to adopt her have allowed her to stay in some part of her family of origin? Perhaps. But there were elements of her relinquishment that money simply could not solve.

If we had been adopting principally to "help," we would have been surprised to be struck by the feeling that the help -- the relinquishment option -- might have led to the relinquishment itself. I have even heard from families who adopted Waiting Children that this does not resolve all ethical dilemmas. But the reality is that as ambivalent as I am about relinquishment, and as ambivalent as we are here at the Bloom household about some aspects of our daughter's story, we know that here at Chez Bloom she is thriving just as her first family had intended.

The point is -- and it's taken me so long to get to it! -- that we were motivated first to parent another child, and once we were so motivated, we focused on our accountability to that child, especially when s/he reached adulthood. If I feel that I cannot say with certainty that it *could not have been another way* I know we are as close to that as possible, and when I see Little Bun and Miss I with their arms around one another, I delight in the fact that in the here and now, it IS this way.


Anonymous said...

I hope you solve all problems soon and your hope for a child reaches , but i feel some sadness in your blog ,and romantic sense in ur second blog ,

abebech said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
abebech said...

Do you mean my second post? This is the only blog I have.
This particular topic is sad, and hard, and my early perceptions of adoption were problematically romantic. This is what I'm trying to suggest here. But I am delighted by my children, and I delight in them every day. I hope I haven't conveyed otherwise.

K. said...

I think I first found your blog via a link to your burning building post, and that post and this one articulate very well the same disillusionment and concerns I've been having as a prospective adoptive parent. My husband and I are coming to adoption by way of infertility, and I've been struggling to reconcile my desire to be a parent with doubts about the ethics of adoption. I hope I can have a similar success as yours in finding an adoption path that's as close as possible to "could not have been another way."

Overwhelmed! said...

Great post!

I think part of the reason we decided to go the foster-to-adopt route the second time was to have a better sense of helping a family in need, more than just fulfilling our desire to add to our family.

With fostering, we have a better opportunity to be a part of the process to encourage and help parents get their child back home (as is going to be the case with Baby Bug's parents) and if it becomes clear over time that the parents aren't willing/able to avail themselves of the services being offered by the state to bring their child back home and the goal changes from reunification to severance and adoption THEN we're fine with adopting.

This is not an easy road and it will probably take months and months to know when all efforts to help the parents have been exhausted and it's time to switch the goal to adoption, but we're finding it to be quite a rewarding path!

Baby Bug is due to go back home to her parents on August 16th (if the judge agrees with CPS at the next court date in July) and we're sincerely happy for that outcome! It's been amazing watching her parents work their case plan to the T these past 7 months! Their love and dedication to their daughter shines brightly. And thankfully, because we've supported their efforts to be reunited as a family, they want to continue to have contact with us after this happens and we'll be able to see Baby Bug from time to time. That is such a comfort to me!

Anyway, I admire your reflections on your daughter's adoption and your efforts to make that adoption as ethical and necessary as possible. We're trying to do the same, just through a different path!

abebech said...

OW, I'm so glad you've commented here! I hope my readers read your comment, and head over to check out your family's story!