Monday, January 29, 2007

Why Adoption? Why China?

I've been mulling this over for months now, and I don't really have my rationale in the best wording yet, but I wanted to begin this while I had a quiet moment. I'll probably come back to it and edit it later, but I know if I don't start now, I may never, so here goes. The following are some of my (many) reasons for adopting and for going abroad to do so:
  • The uncertainty of domestic adoptions: I'd heard one too many stories of biological mothers chaning their minds after the babies were born (a totally understandable thing, knowing the huge emotional impact a baby-in-arms can create), as well stories of biological families taking legal steps to obtain (and winning) custody after a child's birth. While Lee and I might have been able to deal with the risk of facing this loss, we didn't want to do so, and we knew that Jaycie could not handle this type of disruption after praying so long for a sibling. The heartbreak would have been devastating.
  • The large number of parents waiting to adopt infants domestically: In our research, there seemed to be an incredible number of parents waiting in line, so to speak, ones whose "portfolios" were waiting (both online and in agencies) to be chosen by birth parents. From what we could tell, the wait could be short if a family's was chosen quickly, but the typical wait appeared to be 2 years or higher. A "chosen" family might also get part of the way into the process, paying thousands of dollars of a birth mom's expenses, only to find themselves starting over and losing every bit of that money if that bio-mother changed her mind. This doesn't rule out domestic adoption for us forever, but it was a factor this first time.
  • The problems inherent with adopting older children: This issue may be one that touches some people's hot buttons, but it's an issue for many young families, nonetheless. So much happens developmentally and emotionally during the first three years that impacts a person's entire life. With the U.S.'s system of trying at all costs to keep the bio-family unit intact (which is admirable in some ways but not always in the best interest of neglected children), the majority of children who need homes aren't deemed "adoptable" by the courts until they're three or four years old. Having that amount of instability in a young child's life might create problems that no amount of love and care in the world could overcome. At this point in our lives, we didn't want to take that risk or tackle that challenge. Again, we aren't ruling this out for the future, but it wouldn't have worked for us now.
  • The enormous number of babies living in foreign orphanages, particularly in China: Our rationale for going to China was largely influenced by issues raised in this book, The Lost Daughters of China by Karin Evans. For a great interview with the author, go here.
This is way heavier than recent postings, but I wanted to start the dialogue. More later.

(photo by fellow traveller Trish M.)


Gioietta said...

Thanks for sharing some of your thoughts. I know this was one of the biggest decisions you and Lee had to face. I have been part of an online community (although lately haven't had time for it)called Hannah's Prayer, for women with fertility challenges and pregnancy loss. I have made many friends there and shared with many their journey to parenthood through adoption. A close friend of mine is now parenting #1 through open adoption. So I have been blessed to hear both the good stories and the bad. Jon and I are hoping to adopt in the future, and like you and Lee, the inherit challenges of domestic adoption are sometimes a stumbling block, but mainly we are thinking of adopting internationally because of the many orphans living with no one to call their own, in poverty, and parents desperately wanting to give a chance of life to their children.

Ashley Fowlkes said...

Thanks for your comment and for pointing out this support group! I have enjoyed reading your blog and getting to know you, albeit in a "virtual" way, after meeting you as a youngster so long ago in Italy. I think it's wonderful that you're into writing, too; you definitely have a way with words. Take care!

coco said...


I agree with your reasons for adopting international. We started domestic and switched to international.

waiting for TA for Olivia

Don and Lisa Osborn said...

Hi Ashley,

It's Karen's cousin again...

You did a great job capturing some of the many reasons to adopt internationally and from China.

On my journey to parenthood I quickly realized how subjective the topic of growing a family is. What is right for one, isn't necessarily right for another. Several times I have felt negatively judged because of our decision to adopt from China and I have to curb myself from rashly judging those who are opting to do more extreme fertility treatments such as AI or IVF.

I am so thankful that God FINALLY convicted my husband and I that China was the answer for us. It took a long, long time because I spent too long worrying about what others would think. Silly, but true.

I have been so very encouraged by the many stories of people who are called or led to adoption because of something they heard at church, an article they read, a scripture in the Bible, or a couple they met who had enlightened them to the world of adoption, etc.

It is my hope and prayer that people like us will be ambassadors for adoption and a source of hope and encouragement to those struggling with the heartache of infertility and the uncertainty of what to do.

I am part of a small prayer group on Monday nights for Christian adoptive moms. It is a 30 minute conference call and I'd love to have you join. Email me at if you'd like more information. We also have a small Yahoo group intended solely to encourage and uplift one another.

I am happy to hear things are going so well for your family.

In Him,
Lisa Caples Osborn
San Antonio, TX
Mother to Lindy Li-Xiao

dublin said...

I could readily identify with every single one of your reasons. And, you are right, you may feel differently after the first adoption.

After our first adoption was accomplished, we were more open to more risks. We were better PREPARED for more risks than we would have been the first time we adopted...and we were better prepared to meet additional challenges after we had navigated the waters of helping our first adopted child bond/attach into our family. Our third adoption involved an older child (age 6) with a very troubled background and physical, as well as emotional, special needs...and attachment challenges. Would it had been in his best interest for us to have been his parents before we had the experience of the other two adoptions under our belts?...resoundingly NO. We needed time and experience before taking on an older child.

So, don't ever let ANYONE make you feel guilty about the parameters you have chosen.

Ashley Fowlkes said...

Thanks, you all. I appreciate your comments so much. We all have different paths but the overlap makes it seem like we're journeying together.