For several months, I’ve been thinking about a blog series on unrealistic adoption expectations. Off & on, I’d draft rough notes on the topic. But in the last week or so, I’ve really gotten motivated to move forward with the series. One of those motivators was seeing the new movie “What to Expect When You’re Expecting”. I knew that one of the couples in the movie adopted a child and I was eager to see how that was portrayed in the movie.An important reminder of what to expect when you're expecting to adopt internationally.
Wow. What a disappointing, unrealistic portrayal of international adoption. I know it’s Hollywood, and we shouldn’t expect much, but still, this kind of thing only serves to increase the unrealistic expectations of first -timers thinking about adopting internationally.
(Slight spoiler here for anyone concerned.) The desperate-for-a-baby mother and the freaked-out father choose Ethiopia. Just a few days or weeks (!) later they get a referral for and a picture of an adorable, six week old, perfectly healthy baby boy. There’s an “awwww,” from the audience, of course. Months later they travel to Africa and arrive at the care center with a large group of other adoptive families (each and every family carrying an infant baby carrier!). There is a short ceremony where they all stand in a line and repeat an oath about caring for the child and keeping them in touch with their Ethiopian heritage. They then exchange a lit candle for their baby and are pronounced to be a family. More awww’s from the audience.
Easy enough right? Apparently many people assume so.
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Friends, it is time to paint a more realistic picture of what international adoption looks like today.
I am not aware of any adoption program, anywhere in the world where healthy, adoptable infants are sitting in orphanages waiting for families.
3 months ago