A friend, an adoptive mother, said to me recently, “I have faced the fact that my daughter is only mine because I have more money than her birth mother.” That is a simple reality of adoption, she says, and yet it is so rarely spoken aloud.Indeed. And here's what Dell'Antonia has to say about adopting her daughter from China, about taking her away from a loving foster home:
“I want to go home.”Zoe was not in foster care, and Maya was. Maya was the first child her foster parents had fostered, and they've gone on to foster others, at least two of whom were adopted abroad and one of whom was adopted domestically. Maya was with them for 10 months and they heard her first word and saw her first step. They were very loving, as evidenced by the ease of Maya's transition to our family, and by the fact that they still -- 7 birthdays later -- send a present for Maya's birthday.
It doesn’t really matter what or where home is, especially not if you’re a young kid, parted from your culture and country and navigating a world where nothing means what it once did. Whatever home is to you, when you’re miserable, when the world is hard and uncomforting, the craving is universal: I do not want to endure. I want to go home.
When my daughter, adopted at nearly 4 years old from China but from a largely English-speaking home, first came to us, she said those words loud and clear, and she said them often. When you watch Sui Yong, the 8-year-old at the center of PBS’s documentary “Wo Ai Ni, Mommy (I love you, Mommy),” adoptive mother Donna Sadowsky can’t understand the phrase, spoken by her daughter in Chinese — but the viewer can read the subtitles, and Sadowsky can read the rest: the tears, the tone, and the defeated little body curled up in the bed.
In adoption parlance, “Faith” Sadowsky has “come home,” but the Sadowsky house isn’t home for Sui Yong.
When asked by her daughter — later — why she wanted a child from China, mother Donna Sadowsky says she told the girl that “I needed a daughter, and you needed a family.” It’s not an unusual line; in fact, it’s fairly standard. It’s as good a way as any of making sense of the many forces that bring together parents and children in the adoption world. But from that child’s point of view — and from my own daughter’s — it isn’t true. Like many of the older children adopted from China now (and most Chinese adoptions now are of children older than 2 years) Sui Yong, now Faith, and my daughter already had families. Loving, close, treasured families. Families they couldn’t keep.
Yes, Maya is perfectly happy and thriving in our family. But I still feel pain at what she has lost.