Wednesday, June 30, 2010

The Forever Family Myth

Dawn Friedman of This Woman's Work has written, The Myth of the Forever Family, for Brain, Child, what MUST become required reading for all prospective adoptive parents about adoption disruption:

The hard truth is that adoption is not just like giving birth. It is rarely as straightforward. And as much as we would like to think otherwise, not all forever families are forever.

* * *

Adoption termination is the industry’s dirty little secret. It’s especially secretive in international adoption. Studies of adoption termination, as reported by the Child Welfare Information Gateway report, “Adoption Disruption and Dissolution” (2004), usually focus on foster-care cases. This research, done by child welfare academics and advocates, estimates that ten percent to twenty-five percent of all adoptions terminate either before finalization (disruption) or after (dissolution). It’s hard to say whether or not the numbers in international adoptions are similar, but the kinds of challenges that terminate domestic adoptions are certainly present in many international ones.

* * *

As I worked on this piece I became increasingly frustrated and saddened by the lack of information and support both for pre-adoptive and post-adoptive families. Adoption agency websites usually have glowing stories of new families and pictures of adorable children cradled in their new parents’ arms, but very few have concrete information about preparing for children who have suffered the tremendous loss and trauma that most of these kids suffer. I feel like we’re setting families up. Adoption can be a wonderful thing but unless prospective parents go into it with their eyes open and post-adoption services at the ready, how can we blame those families that fall apart?
Lots of good information about what causes disruptions, what can help prevent it, as well as personal stories from families who disrupted and families who didn't despite what might seem like cause to do so. And also quotes from Jae Ran Kim of Harlow's Monkey!

Final Day of Language Camp

Today was the last day of the girls' 4-week Chinese language camp -- yippeeeeeee!  They've had a wonderful time, but I can't say I've enjoyed the 45-minute drive to take them, the 45-minute drive back home, just to drive 45 minutes to pick them up, and then driving 45 minutes back home.  Sheesh!  Still, it was all worthwhile when we parents got to see everything the kids learned in the past few weeks during the closing ceremony for the camp. 

I got to watch Maya doing Kung Fu and singing Chinese songs and playing with Chinese yo-yos.  Zoe was the stage manager for her class skit in Chinese, did tai chi with a sword, and did a lion dance with the lion mask (above) she decorated.   And then I got to watch as BOTH girls won awards for being the best in their respective classes! (Brag, brag, brag!)

We left loaded down with all their school papers, craft projects, calligraphy drawings, paper lanterns, "All About Me" posters, and the like!

Afterwards, we went to lunch at a Chinese restaurant near the school.  The girls were delighted to find that two of their camp friends were there -- because their parents OWNED the Chinese restaurant!  It was so funny -- as we were trying to pick out which Chinese dishes to order for Zoe and Maya, their little friend says confidentially, "You know, you can order french fries!"

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

"Notes on a Dancing Daughter"

This popped up in my international adoption google alert -- an article about an award won by essayist Nancy McCabe for an essay having nothing to do with adoption.  But the article also mentioned several other essays, including this one:

“Notes on a Dancing Daughter” appears in the spring/summer 2010 issue of Fourth Genre, one of the leading creative nonfiction journals, and includes fragmented reflections on taking a trip with her adopted daughter to Chinese Heritage Camp.

“This essay is about genetic and cultural heritage, the ways we pass those on, the difficulties we face when we don’t have easy access to information about them, as with international adoption,” she said.
Sounds really interesting -- if anyone runs across it, I'd love a copy (I can't find it listed on the Fourth Genre website).  The article also mentions a book by McCabe, Meeting Sophie: A Memoir of Adoption.  I haven't read it, but it's now on my list!

Monday, June 28, 2010

China Adoptee Needs Bone Marrow Transplant

Here's the story:
Michael and Sherrie Cramer adopted their daughter Katie from an orphanage in the province of Guangxi, China. They went on to adopt two more babies from China.

On June 19, 2006, at age 12, Katie was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia. She completed four of five rounds of chemotherapy and was discharged from the hospital six months later.

* * *

For the next few years Katie lived pretty much a normal teenage life. Sadly, on April 9, 2010 at age 16, doctors discovered Katie had a relapse of leukemia. Undergoing a stem cell transplant, doctors have determined she needs a bone marrow transplant. To date through the National Marrow Donor Program and the Asian American Donor Program no tissue matches have been found.

At this point, time is critical. Doctors have said Katie has a window of 5 weeks that would be optimal for a bone marrow transplant. The Cramer family is in need of resources and your prayers to meet this challenge. Doctors have informed Katie’s mother that the best chance of finding the person with a tissue match is in Katie’s birth place – Guangxi, China.

July 1, 2010, Sherrie Cramer is flying to the province Guangxi, China. She is going to start a donor drive and look for relatives of her daughter Katie. There are no detailed birth records to go by. She only knows approximately where and the month/year Katie was born. We are praying women who gave up their babies to the orphanage at that time will hear Katie’s plight and come forward. Finding Katie’s birth mother could bring a 25% possibility of a tissue match. A miracle will bring a random donor match from the area or anywhere in the world.
Both of my daughters are from Guangxi Province, so this hits close to home.  Spread the word, and look to see how you might be able to help by visiting the link above.

FAQs for APs

This article has a social worker, a psychotherapist, and/or an adoptive parent answering the following questions that adoptive parents may have:

When should I talk to my child about adoption?

My adopted child is starting school. Should I tell the teacher he is adopted?

What advice should I give my child about talking to his friends about adoption?

What if someone asks intrusive questions about the adoption that I don't want to answer?

My child feels rejected because their birth parents didn't want them. What do I do?

I have both adopted and biological kids, how I do help ensure a happy blended family?

My adopted child doesn't look like me. How do I answer questions like 'Where did he get that hair or those eyes'?

How do I get my extended family to treat my adopted child like the other kids?

What happens if my child wants to search for his birth parents?
Not much new there, but a good refresher course for adoptive parents. How would you answer the questions if offering advice to an adoptive parent?  Do you disagree with any of the answers given by the "experts?"

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Even More About Adoption & Anger

A few weeks ago I posted about adoption and anger, and in the comments Yoon Seon said: "Hmmm... I've mentioned anger quite a lot on my blog, but this post has inspired a new post in me. I might respond to your post via a post of my own, if that's OK." Well, she's come through with this post:

Anger seems to be associated quite closely to adoption and, in particular, adoptees. We seem to be rather infamous for being the most angry participants of the adoption triad. People like to say that we should “just” get over our anger, and that we should “just” focus on the lives we’ve been adopted into, instead of focusing on what we’ve lost. It seems so two dimensional when viewed in this way.

I was a very angry teenager. I don’t really know why. All I really remember of my teen years were constantly being angry at those around me, particularly my parents. And I’m not really sure what I was angry at. Was it “misplaced anger” that is mentioned in others’ blogs? What/who was/am I really angry at? Is it unfair to say that I was angry at my adoptive parents, or was I just taking my anger at something/one else when it was really about someone/thing else entirely?

I can’t really answer the above questions. But I’m not going to deny that I have anger around my adoption and those involved in it.
She also does a great job of addressing the "why" question -- why are adoptees angry?  She lists 7 reasons for why she is angry, while also noting that being angry about one's adoption doesn't mean that anger is an all-consuming issue:

Like I’ve said time and time again, we’re human. We do have lives, and we do have lives that have nothing to do with our being adopted. I don’t sit around moping all day about the things I’ve lost in being adopted. And yes, I do celebrate the life I have here. But I guess it’s like living in a limbo: although my adopted life is wonderful and fortunate, there are still things missing from me as a human being that are a struggle to regain. I’m not perfect, either, so anger is just one of those human emotions that is going to rear its ugly head at times.
Go read the whole thing!  If you blog, why not keep the conversation going by addressing adoption and anger at your blog?  What about this question -- are adoptive parents angry about adoption?  We often attribute anger to adoptees and birth parents, but what about adoptive parents?

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Adopted -- Past or Present Tense?

Adoption Mosaic's website offerings are getting better and better day by day -- be sure to bookmark it and visit often!  This video blog addresses a great issue -- is adoption a single event that happened in the past for an adoptee, or is it a part of an adoptee's ongoing identity?  Do adoptees say "I was adopted," or "I am adopted?"

I've addressed this issue before:

I remember reading something when Zoe was little that I thought was very clever -- say that your child WAS adopted, not IS adopted, because adopting is just a single event in the past, not part of who your child is now. I thought it very clever because it fit so neatly the "same as" narrative I was sure was right -- adoption is the "same as" having a child by birth, just another way to become a family. What a clever way to render adoption irrelevant to our daily lives, to my child's identity!

What I believe now is that adoption is a life-long issue, and cannot be relegated to a single event in the past.
I thought it was particularly interesting that Astrid says that when she was younger, she was comfortable with "was adopted," with the notion that adoption was an event, not an identity.  It wasn't until she became older and started to explore adoption issues that she realized how fundamentally it was part of her identity.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Italian Case on Race Preference in Adoption

Here's an interesting legal ruling, reported at Jurist:

The Italian Court of Cassation, the country's highest appeals court, ruled Tuesday that couples seeking to adopt children of a certain ethnicity or race "are not suitable for international adoption." The judgment was prompted by the case of a Sicilian couple who declared that they only wanted to adopt a Caucasian child of European descent. The decision cites violations of the Italian Constitution regarding inalienable rights, equality, and international agreements. The court stated that parents who indicate a preference should not only have their particular application denied by the juvenile court . . . but their capacity to apply for adoption in general should be called in to question.

The court also recommended that social services provide discriminatory parents with psychological support to allow them to overcome their aversion to adopting a child "who is not in [their] own image."

The decision comes more than a year after the attorney general asked the court to intervene and ban these types of discriminatory requests. Children's rights group Friends of Children, which initiated the complaint, said that they have been battling these types of requests for years and welcomed the court's decision.
So what do you think? Should a prospective adoptive parent be disqualified from adopting altogether if he or she wants to adopt only a same-race child?

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Is Illegal Adoption Human Trafficking?

Unicef certainly thinks so, while also noting that there is disagreement on this point.  The U.S. State Department's 2010 Report on Trafficking in Persons answers the question in the negative:

Illegal adoptions: The kidnapping or unlawful buying/selling of an infant or child for the purpose of offering that child for adoption represents a serious criminal offense, but it is not a form of human trafficking, as it does not necessarily involve the use of force, fraud, or coercion to compel services from a person. As stated in the travaux preparatoires of the Palermo Protocol, only “where illegal adoption amounts to a practice similar to slavery . . . it will also fall within the scope of the Protocol.”
Since adoptees don't provide "services," even the most egregious cases of kidnapping or buying or selling children will not be treated as human trafficking by the U.S.

More proof that adoptees are not human?

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

NPR: China's One Child Policy

NPR's Marketplace has a great series about China's One Child Policy, including pieces about the policy, criticism of the policy, interview with families affected by the policy, interviews with only children, and more!  There's even a quiz, where you can test your knowledge of the one child policy (I missed one -- about what Mao had to say about China's population.  How did you do?)

Sierra Leone: Adoptive Mother Speaks Out

I posted recently about birth parents in Sierra Leone looking for information about their children who were adopted to America without the parents' knowledge or consent.  At Parents for Ethical Adoption Reform (PEAR), an adoptive parent speaks:

Imagine my surprise, two weeks ago, I was reading a media report post by Ethica on Facebook. More often than not, I jump past these posts, but this one caught my eye, it was a Sierra Leone. We adopted our son from there when he was 4 years old, in 1998.

I read to the end of the story, and that is when my world stopped, and I felt like I had just been pulled under water, everything was silent, as I sat and stared at the screen in disbelief, re-reading the last two paragraphs over and over again, as if it would somehow change what I was reading:

"It's been nearly 15 years since Sulaiman Suma last saw his 4½-year-old daughter Mabinty and 3½-year-old son Sulaiman. Both are now young adults believed to be living in the United States.

"We want our children who were sold to these white people," Suma said. "We want to know whether they are alive or dead."

Sulaiman Suma is our son, who we adopted from Sierra Leone.
The adoptive mother is asking to hear from other parents who adopted from Sierra Leone in 1998.  And the adoptive mother has been through this before -- she discovered that her daughter adopted from Cambodia had been trafficked.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Useful or Creepy?

This website offers a unique service for adoptive families.  Under the heading of forensic art, they will do age regression photos of a child who does not have any baby pictures.  And they will do photo composites of what an adopted child's unknown birth parents might look like.  Under the above photo montage, the website says:
This child was adopted and had no photos of her biological parents. We created a representation of what her mom and dad may look like. It has given her some closure.

Some of the stuff on the website seems really creepy -- age progressions of a deceased loved one, so you can see what they would have looked like if they had grown older.  Ick.  Yes, forensic science uses age progression to help find missing children, but to represent what dead people would have looked like if they lived?  Ick.

The baby picture thing, and especially the birth parents thing, strikes me as harmful and dangerous for adopted children.  Yes, children without baby pictures may yearn for them.  Yes, school projects that ask for baby pictures may be hurtful for the child who doesn't have any.  Yes, not knowing what your birth parents look like is painful and frustrating.  But this is a case where the remedy is worse than the injury.

The first rule for adopted parents in talking about their children's pasts is TELL NO LIES.  Even if you explain carefully that these photos are not really real, how can a child grasp this?  And even if the child understands that the birth parent pictures may or may not look like their birth parents in real life, it won't take long for the brain to fix that photo as "my birth parents," instead of "maybe what my birth parents look like and maybe not."  This is why I used black silhouettes to represent birth parents in my kids' lifebooks -- I didn't want to use any random Chinese people, because I knew the kids would internalize those pictures forever after as "my birth parents," no matter what I had to say.  These specially-created photos would have the same effect, but even more so when they seem backed by "science,"

So what do you think?  Would you use this service?

Monday, June 21, 2010

Adoption News Links

Some recent adoption articles in various media outlets:

From Time, When the Adopted Can't Adapt, an article about problems with Russian adopted kids, including disruptions.

From the Guardian (UK), Facebook has changed adoption forever, looking at how social networking media is allowing search and contact between birth families and adopted persons.

The Telegraph (UK) joins in on the social neworking possibilities for contact, with this the-sky-is-falling headline:  Facebook poses risk to adopted children and families, charity warns.

Also from the Telegraph (UK), Big money to be made in the adoption trade, assailing the forced removal of children from young birth birth mothers by the child welfare system, and connecting that removal to the money to be made in adoption.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Ashes to Ashes

Our usual Father's Day tradition (we do the same for Mother's Day) to honor my daughters' birth fathers, writing notes and then burning them so the smoke can carry the messages of good wishes to China, included my dad this Father's Day. The girls included messages to Grandpa, with wishes that the smoke carry their words to heaven. Zoe even asked Mimi and me to include messages to Grandpa.

It was a more pleasant Father's Day than I anticipated.  Last evening  we went shopping amongst the last-minute-gifts-for-Dad crowd, and not surprisingly, the cashier's last words to us were, "Have a Happy Father's Day!"

I admit it, I just wanted to BITE. It was all I could do not to say, "My kids don't have a father, and mine died last week." Maya felt a bit more charitable towards the cashier, she just turned to me and said, "I think it will be happy AND sad." Indeed.

We actually had fun talking about Grandpa most of the day.  We're doing something special for the memorial service -- the girls are going to hand out small stones upon which we've written words that describe Grandpa, especially for the people who never knew him before he became sick.  So we brainstormed words, bought river rocks, and wrote our words -- fun, calm, hard-working, handsome, strong, honest, cheerful, caring. . . . We shared stories about Grandpa with each word.  So all in all it was a day more happy than sad.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

"It's like wanting a new puppy"

Kristen Chenoweth, Broadway actress, is adopted, and she is helping to publicize domestic adoption.  That's great.  But she seems to be doing it by dissing international adoption:

While I appreciate so many people going abroad and adopting, and I understand – it’s like wanting a new puppy – there are so many children here that just need the unconditional love and support of a parent,” Chenoweth, who recently partnered with the Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption to help raise awareness on the issue, told Pop Tarts.
Or is she dissing all adoption?  It's like wanting a new puppy?!

The Karate Kid -- the Movie

Despite the controversy (OK, maybe BECAUSE of the controversy -- that's just the way I roll!) and the PG rating (violence and mild language), I took the girls to see the Karate Kid.  The main draw for me was the fact that the boy and his mom were American expats in China, something we experienced in 2007.  The girls and I kept leaning over to each other to whisper, "We saw that in China!"  And that wasn't just for the big things, like the Forbidden City and the Great Wall, which were both represented in the film.  It was the little things, like scenes of old ladies exercising in the park, and the metal NordicTrak-like exercise equipment in the park, and the hot water heater in the shower that has to be turned on 30 minutes before you take a shower, and Chinese mountain-climbing which means by way of a million stairs, and climbing that mountain to reach a special spring at the top. Seeing all of that again was really fun.

Was it a fully accurate and non-stereotyped view of life in China?  Of course not -- the movie is only 140 minutes long! Even a ten-part documentary covering 20 hours would be hard pressed to do that. The most unrealistic thing for me, though, was not the improbable kung fu tricks but the fact that African American Dre and his mom walked down the streets of Beijing and there weren't a million Chinese turning around to stare at them!  I'm SURE the street extras were especially coached not to do so!  There was one scene I found particularly stereotyped and offensive near the beginning -- when Dre (Jaden Smith) is looking for Mr. Han (Jackie Chan), he wanders into the wrong room and there are a half-dozen Chinese men, dirty, slovenly, one with round Charlie Chan glasses, staring at him stupidly.  Yes, it was partially designed to showcase Dre's difficulties in not speaking any Chinese, but I thought it was unnecessarily exaggerated.  And I would have liked to see Dre more open to learning Chinese language and some culture other than kung fu, but maybe that's too much to ask of a kid who doesn't want to go to China and once there keeps getting beat up by Chinese kids!

There was great potential in the film to make all Chinese out to be bad guys, with the really mean Chinese bullies and the really creepy and mean Chinese kung fu teacher of the really mean Chinese bullies.  But Jackie Chan, being Chinese, clearly counteracted that.  His message was that the kung fu teacher was wrong, and the boys not so much mean as misguided (“No such thing as bad students, only bad teachers.”).  And the really mean Chinese bullies kind of redeem themselves at the end, which helps in not demonizing all Chinese people.  And one neat thing -- when Dre and Mr. Han climb the mountain and encounter REAL kung fu masters, several of them and the most impressive one of all, are women! 

I'm not going to share any more details so as not to spoil it in case you haven't seen the movie yet.  But Zoe loved the whole thing, and Maya loved the romantic bits with Dre and the Chinese girl (though was scared by the fighting scenes and ended up on my lap before the end of the movie).  Both say they want to see it again.  I'd actually see it again to revisit all those simple scenes reminding us of life in China!

Friday, June 18, 2010

The Karate Kid -- the Controversy

There's been controversy in the Asian American community about the new Karate Kid.  Aly Morita, daughter of the late Pat Morita who played Karate master Mr. Miyagi in the first Karate Kid, is calling for a boycott of the movie.  Her concern is a Hollywood that perpetuates stereotypes of Asians and where the only role for Asians is the Kung Fu master as fortune cookie sage (you can read a personal account from Aly Morita about her father and what the role meant to him and his family here).  But Edward at 8Asians found himself liking the film:

When this remake was first announced, I placed this film in what I call the “Hollywood Movies That Will Possibly Make Asians Look Bad or Not Have Asians At All As Main Characters” box, which also contained The Last Airbender, The Prince of Persia: Sands of Time, Sex & The City 2, and the Red Dawn remake. These were films that I would be hard pressed to pay $12-15 for and even if word of mouth for these films were spectacular, I would rather go watch Glee or my roommate’s bunny eat the carpet floor.

But out of all the movies in my absurdly named box, I didn’t feel so strongly against The Karate Kid remake like I did for the others. I liked that Jaden Smith was playing the kid and Jackie Chan as the grizzled mentor because it meant two people of color were the main stars in a Hollywood movie. However, I would still be hesitant enough to actually pay to watch the remake, so it was something I would just check out on DVD or on TV, if I ever was that bored.

But last week on June 4th, CAPE (Coalition of Asian Pacifics in Entertainment) and Sony invited people to a special press screening for this film. The nifty thing was that the event was free and at the very least, I can watch the film to see for myself if this is yet another exercise in Hollywood Asian stereotypes.

About two hours later, I came out of the theater shockingly surprised by how much I enjoyed the movie. Immediately, I became shocked at how I actually liked it.
He also responds to some of the criticisms of the film, including that it gives the impression that everyone in China knows Kung Fu, that the American-boy-"liberates"-Asian-girl storyline is way too neo-Colonial, that Jackie Chan gets second billing after that green kid Jaden Smith, and that the movie is titled Karate Kid, when it's clearly Kung Fu that is being taught.  Brian Lam also responds to that Karate  vs. Kung Fu thing at BoingBoing:
Okay, the title of the "new" Karate Kid title may be a misnomer in the literal sense. But I don't consider the title a mistake. Some may argue that the filmmakers are demonstrating cultural insensitivity to Chinese and Japanese martial artists. But I believe the Karate/Kung Fu discrepancy can also be interpreted as masterful perception. Because a master, like Bruce Lee or Jongsanan, knows that at the core, there is no real difference between any of the martial arts. In fact, this is the very sort of provincial distinction Bruce Lee fought against throughout his life.
Oh, and then there is the stomach-turning comments at Jackie Chan's website from the racists who hate the movie because it paints African-Americans as peaceful and Chinese as violent, when we all know it's the other way around, like this oh-so-charming comment from Tim:

Mr. Chan you are a politically correct pig. If you were really a man you would have bowed out on this project. Blacks are the most violent people on the planet and people of oriental descent the most pleasant (I am a white man FWIW), and the former abuse the latter here in America. Why not produce a film where a slight Chinese kid gets attacked by blacks and fights back? Oh, that's right it would show the grim reality, and you are too much of a coward to show that, as it would threaten your career. You have sold out your own people and the truth for money.
To cleanse your palette after that awful comment, you must read the absolutely hilarious live-blogging/review from Jen (and her Hardass Asian Mama -- her name, not mine!) at Disgrasian. No simple quote will do it justice, so you have to read the whole thing (spoiler alert!), but she picks up on a race issue, too:

Back in Beijing, the Karate Kid and Mini-Tamlyn [the Chinese love-interest] play hooky together, which involves them running all around the city with her violin. OMG IS EVERYONE IN THIS MOVIE A NERD??? But that almost makes her late for her big audition for the Beijing Academy of Music, which pisses off her parents, which makes them give the Karate Kid funny looks when they meet him. (Or is it because he’s black? Hmm.) Anyway, my HAM [Hardass Asian Mama] thinks the ambiguity of Mini-Tamlyn’s Hardass Asian Parents’ disapproval makes Chinese people look bad (and by bad, she means, “racist”).
So have you seen the movie?  I took the girls yesterday, and I'll tell you all about that in my next post!

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Books, Books, Books, Books, Books!

Here's a great resource -- Talk Story, a website with an awesome list of  children's books focusing on Asian American Pacific Islander characters and culture.  The list is broken out by different countries/cultures, including Chinese & Chinese American, Taiwanese & Taiwanese American, Cambodian & Cambodian American, Korean & Korean American, etc.  These lists are further broken down by type of book -- picture book, chapter book, young adult, etc.  There's also a great list of American Indian/Alaskan Natives books.

Thanks to Kimchee Mamas for the link!

Reunions, Birth Parents, & Money in International Adoption

At South Asia Wired, a woman who has adopted from India talks about cases of corruption in Indian adoption, and comments on the Indian family seeking a DNA test to prove that a Dutch child adopted from India is in fact their kidnapped child (I blogged about the case here):
The Indian couple say they understand that it may not be in his best interest to go back with them if it’s eventually proved that he’s their son. He’s a Dutch kid, attached to the only parents he remembers and can’t suddenly be expected to live in an Indian slum.

They just want to see him. And to keep in contact.

It’s indeed an incredibly generous and loving gesture on their part. But here come the what if’s again. And they were formulated for me very early on by the deputy director of the agency I got my daughter to explain why she categorically refused to give me any information about my daughter’s biological family.

“What happens when she’s 15 and maybe she finds her biological parents” the lady said to me. “And these people just see this girl who’s dressed very nicely and looks like she has a lot of money, and they start demanding that she gives them money because they’re poor and she’s their child. I’ve seen it happen before, and believe me, it’s very traumatic for the child to be put in that position.”
So the adoptive mom wonders if the Indian family is interested in a DNA test because they see the child as a cash cow.  And her adoption agency refuses to give information they have about her daughter's birth parents for fear that it will traumatize the child in the future to meet them and discover that they see her as a cash cow (and what happens when that child discovers that the information was available and her parents refused to fight for it?). 

Yes, it would be hurtful if the birth parents seem only interested in financial support from the child.  But that's an issue that can be dealt with before any meeting.  I think the adoptive parents and minor child (once the adoptee is an adult, the adoptive parents fall out of the decision-making) need to think about what they want to do about financial assistance for poor birth parents before meeting them.  And there needs to be an exploration of the birth parent's culture -- expectations of financial assistance will be driven by cultural understanding of adoption (in the culture, is the adopted-out child still viewed as the family's child?), of family dynamics (what is the obligation of children toward their parents in the culture?), and of social obligations of rich to poor.  That cultural understanding can help in shifting perceptions so that birth parents aren't viewed as avaricious schemers.

I've known adoptive families who do not want to offer money for fear of incentivizing adoption placement by other poor parents in the neighborhood.  I've known adoptive families who want to give financial help, particularly if their child has siblings living with the birth parents.  I've heard of birth families who are insulted by the offer of money; I've heard of birth families thankful for the offer.  And yes, I've heard of birth families in poor sending countries who see dollar signs when their child finds them.

But it certainly isn't the agency's call whether to share birth family information for fear of something that may never happen, or if it happens, may not be quite as traumatic or unacceptable to the adopted child as the agency thinks.


How Cool!

Zoe and Maya are really enjoying their Chinese language camp.  Yes, Maya is going, too.  We were told she couldn't attend -- the youngest kids eligible were rising 3rd graders.  But when we went to pick up Zoe after the first class, the coordinator said Maya could attend!

Yesterday the girls were all atwitter with tales of learning new tricks with Chinese yo-yos and  doing martial arts with swords.  How cool!  But those weren't the only cool things . . . .

Zoe says a little girl asked her where she was born, and she said, "I don't know where I was born, but before coming to America I was in an orphanage in Guangxi Province, China."  The little girl's reaction to hearing that Zoe lived in an orphanage?  "How cool!"  The teacher overheard the conversation and asked Zoe to share her story with the class.  Zoe did, and all of her classmates agreed -- "How cool!"

Who knew that living in a Chinese orphanage was so cool?!

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

E.J. Graff: The Baby Business

E.J. Graff, of the Lie We Love fame, has a great new article out, The Baby Business: Policy Proposals for Fairer Practices, focusing now on what it would take to FIX international adoption:
Ending corruption in international adoption may seem like an obscure and narrow issue, but its implications reach throughout child welfare and development efforts worldwide. What’s the right way to help children after the Haitian earthquake or the Liberian civil war? How can the United States help African AIDS orphans become productive citizens instead of pirates or insurgents? What is international adoption’s correct role in child welfare? The answers are linked. What the United States needs now are improved policies, practices, and regulations that simultaneously help prevent the criminal underside of the adoption trade and support child welfare and protection systems, so that impoverished families and disrupted communities can keep most of their children home. Already in place are a treaty, a law, sets of regulations, and a host of aid efforts on behalf of children. But significant gaps remain. Plugging some important holes—and heightening our investments in, and coordination of, services that help children stay with their families—would go a long way toward saving children from being wrongfully taken from their birth families, and Americans from later discovering that they unwittingly paid someone to buy them a child.

More on Anger

Dawn at This Woman's Work talks about 6-year-old Madison's anger that her mom "took her" from Pennie, her birth mom (they're in an open adoption):

Madison recently told me that she is angry with me and I don’t know that it’s so misplaced. She says she is angry with me for taking her. There was a time that she was angry with Pennie but she understands more about Pennie’s decision because she has asked enough and we have talked enough that she understands it as much as a 6-year old can. She is less understanding about my decision (she doesn’t really bring Brett into this) to take her instead of helping her stay with Pennie.
As always, go read the whole thing, including how Dawn addressed the issue with Madison.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Adoption & Anger

At her blog, adoptee and author Sherrie Eldridge talks about transferred anger -- what she sees as a common tendency of adoptees to take out their anger at birth parents on adoptive parents.  She recounts a conversation with a 7-year-old adoptee about her anger, and comments:

At seven years old, I didn't think that she would be able to understand "misplaced anger"--that her anger was really toward her birth mother who mysteriously disappeared from her life. Of course, we adults know that causes a trauma, a huge hurt. The scab over the trauma is anger, so look out adoptive moms. You may be the tareget of your child's anger, but the driving force is the loss of the birth mother/father. You're a convenient target because the Birth Mother likely isn't present.
And then at this post, she asks how adoptees perceive their own anger:

Do many adoptees feel ashamed of the intensity of their anger, like the seven-year-old girl described in the previous post?

Speaking for myself, I remember as a teen having shouting matches with my Mom continuously. I looked at my non-adopted friends and didn't see them struggling with such a problem. What was wrong with me? Why couldn't I control my anger? Why the rage?
I've blogged before about Zoe's shame at her anger toward her birth parents.  She's already gotten the societal message that anger -- especially anger from women & girls -- is socially unacceptable. We use "angry" as an adjective to dismiss adoptees whose legitimate feelings we'd rather ignore.  Is it any wonder that that supressed anger has to erupt somewhere? As I said in that previous post:
[A]doptees have reason to be angry, and it is unrelated to how good or bad their adoptive parents parented. It has to do with loss of control, loss of identity, loss of culture, loss of heritage, loss of language, loss of first families, loss, loss, loss. And you can gain, gain, gain -- a permanent family, a different culture, a different language, a different heritage, more material goods than you can shake a stick at! -- and still feel loss. And it is perfectly OK to feel that loss.
Only by recognizing and naming the emotion of anger can we help our children learn healthy ways to express that anger.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Adoption & the Child's Prenatal World

Comment from Sally Maslansky, adoptive parent and therapist, on an article about prenatal care and prenatal bonding:

I would like to invite adoptive and prospective adoptive parents to read this article with an open mind and heart as you reflect on the meaning of your own adopted child's prenatal experience. What do you really know of your child's birth mother's medical care or state of mind? There may be some medical information available to you, but what about the mother's emotional world? What were her emotions about giving her baby up for adoption? How did this impact her baby's world in the womb? How do you imagine your child's world has been effected by the loss of the person it was bonding with for those nine months? How do you believe this experience has set the frame for your child's relationship with you, with themselves and with their world?

These are difficult questions I know, but essential ones I believe in order to not only begin your own bonding process with your child, but also to help your child come to know and understand this loss and its impact on them. While it is a deeply sad situation for a child to lose it's birth mother, in adoption that is a reality -- and one that is better to be acknowledged, grieved and emotionally made sense of than denied and misunderstood.

Are Adoptees Human?

The headline, Adoptees and Their Mothers Deserve Equal Human Rights, to an excellent post about open records, brought to mind the question that permeated human rights & feminist discourse in the '90s, "Are women human?" Much of human rights law then (and even now) ignored issues important to women because human rights focuses on how nations/governments treat people, how they oppress and discriminate and imprison and torture and kill. Private oppression like honor killings and female genital mutilation and domestic violence and rape, those things women suffer, were not the subject of human rights law. So if being free from domestic violence or rape or being killed by family members are not human rights, then it obviously follows that women are not human.

Adoptees aren't complaining about private oppression -- it is governments that refuse access to original birth certificates and governments that create the lie of an amended birth certificate. So the question is whether the things they ask for are things humans are entitled to.  Are humans entitled to know about their origins?  To know their biological beginnings?  To know their original names, the names of their original parents?

Every non-adopted human has access to this information.  If adoptees aren't entitled to this information, then the question remains -- are adoptees human?  In only a handful of states in the United States is the answer yes.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Rest in Peace

My dad drew his last breath last night with his wife and three children by his side. It was a peaceful moment.

According to his wishes there will be no viewing of his empty shell,  no elaborate funeral,  His remains will be interred at the National Cemetery in this area;  as a career member of the military, he is entitled to full military honors and will be sent off with Taps and a 21-gun salute.  He would have LOVED that!

Thanks to all who have been so kind and thoughtful during this difficult time.

Friday, June 11, 2010

NPR StoryCorps: An Adoption Story

Click here to listen to mother and son share a story about adoption:

Jackie Miller knew when she got married that she would adopt a child. And in the early 1970s, she and her husband brought home their son, Scott.

* * *

But while Scott Miller knew he was adopted, he didn't know what prompted his parents to choose adoption to grow their family.

"When I was 17, I got pregnant," Jackie explained to her son. "And the light of my life is my father, but he gave me 24 hours to leave town. And I did have a son. I gave this baby up for adoption and said at that time that I will adopt a child when I'm able to take care of a child."
Listen to the whole thing, it is well worth it. It's interesting to hear the mom talk about not telling her son for so many years, and how the secret seemed to get bigger and bigger as time passed. . . .

Alicia Keyes, South Africa & International Adoption

Alicia Keyes, who will be performing at the World Cup kick-off in South Africa, wants the country to allow international adoptions:

Speaking at a press conference for the Keep a Child Alive (KCA) campaign, Keys urged South Africans to take a stand against HIV/Aids, particularly in light of its effect on Aids orphans.

* * *

Keys said they would have talks with the South African government regarding international adoption. She said while laws were understandably in place to protect children, with an estimated 3.7 million orphans, the laws needed to be addressed to make it more possible for children to be adopted into loving homes.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

The Right NOT to Know?

Two adoptees in Argentina are fighting a court order requiring them to provide DNA samples to determine if they are related to any of the "disappeared" by Argentina's military junta, and then illegally adopted:

The Grandmothers of the Plaza de Mayo allege that Clarin owner Ernestina Herrera de Noble illegally adopted them 34 years ago with help from officials of the military junta. Hundreds of political dissidents were kidnapped and killed after giving birth in clandestine torture centers during the 1976-1983 dictatorship, and human rights groups believe the Noble Herreras' birth mothers were among them.

* * *

If the DNA shows a match to families of the disappeared, their very existence would serve as evidence — "object proof" as they put it — of a crime that could land their mother in prison, if lawyers can then show she knowingly accepted stolen babies.

* * *

"If it is really true ... well, it's up to us to assimilate it, it's up to us to prepare ourselves and it's up to us to see what we want to do," [the daughter] said. "Only we will know how we'll feel."

* * *

But they say they have no need to know more about their birth families, not after 34 years developing their own identities.

"Our identity is ours. It's a private thing, and I don't think it's up to the state or the Grandmothers to come and tell us what is ours," Marcela said, referring to the prominent human rights group that works to identify infants stolen during the dictatorship.

"Despite this, they have tried for nine years to forcefully impose our genetic history on us," she added. "They don't listen to us, they don't respect us, they don't respect our timing."
This is a hard one. What do you think? Do the birth families have superior  rights to the adoptees here?  Does the governmental interest in investigating crime (by the military junta, by the adoptive mother) trump the rights of the adoptees here?

Even More "Talking Adoption" Posts

Last month we had a flurry of posts (including this one) about adoption talk -- how, when & why we talk to our kids about adoption and birth parents, etc.There have been some more since my last round-up, so I thought I'd put up the ones I missed then:

Brian Stuy, who started it all with the post What to Tell -- and When, follows up with this post about surveying his children about adoption talk in their household.

Adding an adoptee's perspective is Mei Ling at Shadow Between Two Worlds.

Judy shares an unfinished adoption conversation with her son at Just Enjoy Him.

And Diane at An-Ya describes the adoption conversation her daughter scheduled with her by telling her it might hurt her feelings (it didn't!).

Not my cup of tea, but click here for a video about how one woman talks to her kids about adoption from a certain religious world view.  I'd be interested in hearing what others think of it.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

The business of international adoption

Click here and here for two installments in a promised series on human rights and international adoption, by Katy Glenn, human rights attorney living in Africa.  Nothing really new in these posts, but a good basic look at the corruption problem in international adoption.

Thanks to Harlow's Monkey on facebook for the links.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

"Thinkin' of the things we used to do"

I'm sitting with my Daddy and we're listening to Patsy Cline. It's midnight, which is the perfect time for Patsy.  Daddy didn't have any say in the selection, but he loves country music, and since my country CDs are limited I'm hoping he'll like this one.  He woke up for a few minutes this evening -- he couldn't open his eyes and he only murmured a few words, but we had a conversation anyway.  He smiled when I told him three of his grandsons had visited that day. He squeezed my hand when I told him Zoe and Maya had visited him, too, and that Zoe had held his hand and asked him to wake up so they could play tea party. 

My dad was admitted to hospice on Saturday, and I'm not sure how much longer he'll be with us.  The girls know that Grandpa will be leaving us, and Zoe says that gives her two things to be sad about -- Grandpa and her birth parents.

Most of my sadness is about what the girls are losing.  I've had a wonderful 49 years with my Daddy, and there isn't anything I regret, nothing unsaid or undone. I have 49 years worth of memories. I've been especially fortunate to watch and marvel at how he is as a grandpa to my girls.  I would never have expected him to sit there and let them wrap him in a pink feather boa, put a crown on his bald head, and play tea party, but he did -- and I have the pictures to prove it!  If I had done the things my girls get away with when I was a child, I'm not sure I would have survived to adulthood.  But Zoe and Maya can do no wrong in his eyes.  He went from a little leery about this whole adoption thing to unconditional love for my girls. I hope they will remember this.

And sitting here I'm reminded that I have something my girls don't have -- I have a mirror. My dad is my mirror.  I look just like him.  We have some personality things in common, too, but it's the physical resemblance that's most clear. We have the same blue eyes.  We both went gray prematurely (gee, thanks, DNA!).  We have the same body type (heaven help me!).  My mom tells the story of taking me out in the stroller as a baby, and a woman going on and on about how beautiful I was, and then looking at my mom and saying, "She must look like her father."  A back-handed insult to my mom (!) but the lady spoke the truth, something I grew up knowing -- I look like my father.  I'm sad that my girls don't have that mirror, that knowledge of who it is they look just like.  And I'm sad that I won't be able to look in that mirror for long.  Still, I've had that mirror for a long time.

Time to change the CD.  Or maybe we'll listen to Patsy Cline one more time. . . .

Tonight alone I'm thinkin'
Of the things we used to do
There's laughter all around me
But my heart still aches for you

Monday, June 7, 2010

"Bring me back one of those Asian babies"

It's been awhile since I've had a stranger make jaw-droppingly inappropriate comments about adoption in front of my kids.  That changed Saturday.  A nice lady, after complimenting my girls' beauty, tells me that her son taught English in Japan, and when he went she told him to bring her back "one of those Asian babies."  She was disappointed when he didn't, but then he gave her a grandchild that was "her own blood," so it turned out OK.  And it didn't stop there!  She goes on to tell me that she was only 39 when her youngest child moved out, and she really wanted to adopt "one of those Asian babies," but she couldn't convince her husband to adopt (thank goodness, is MY thought!).

I'm pretty sure I just stood there gaping like a fish out of water.  And the worst part is I HAD to be nice, which I don't usually worry too much about with strangers.  But we were visiting my dad at hospice, and she was visiting someone at hospice, and it didn't seem good form to jump all over her when she had a dying loved one in the vicinity.  Sigh.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Another "What Would You Do" Story

With the Sierra Leone case, I asked what you would do as an adoptive parent.  Here's another adoption corruption case, Mother fights to meet son 11 years after his kidnap -- and another opportunity for adoptive parents to ask themselves, "What would you do?"
An Indian mother faces a heart-wrenching court battle in Holland to gain access to her 12-year-old son, whom she alleges was kidnapped as a baby then adopted by an unsuspecting Dutch couple.

Nagarani Kathirvel’s nightmare began in 1999 on a hot October night in the coastal city of Chennai, when she and her husband decided to sleep outside their slum hut with their three young children to keep cool.

She was awoken by an uneasy maternal instinct that something was wrong. There was no electricity and in the pitch black she could feel that her youngest child, 18-month-old Sateesh, had disappeared from the sleeping mat.

The family searched frantically for the baby, hoping he had simply crawled off. But Sateesh could not be found. For years Kathirvel kept her son’s name on the family ration card, believing that one day he would return.

Then in May 2005, there was a breakthrough: the local police busted a child-trafficking ring linked to an adoption agency, Malaysian Social Services, that had a licence to offer children for adoption abroad.

* * *

India’s Central Bureau for Investigation took up the case, as did Against Child Trafficking (ACT), an organisation registered in Holland. It is feared there may be several similar stories, as Malaysian Social Services arranged more than 350 overseas adoptions.

Arun Dohle, a German working for ACT, broke the news to Sateesh’s adoptive Dutch parents that the child they thought they had adopted legally 11 years ago may have been stolen from his family.

* * *

At first, the Bissesars [adoptive parents who are ethnic Hindus] were co-operative and sent a picture of the boy to his biological parents. But after advice from a Dutch adoption expert they became fearful that the child could be taken away, and refused to take a DNA test.
As an adoptive parent, I don't ask the question, "What would you do," lightly.  This is, in many ways, the adoptive parents' nightmare, that our child is not legal ours and in fact may legally belong to another.  That our attempt at the most ethical adoption fails all ethical standards.  That ideals of fairness and justice favor the return of our child to her first family.  That we were complicit, however unknowingly, in a corrupt adoption.  That our family may be ripped apart just as that first family was ripped apart.

But I also think its important for adoptive families to consider another perspective -- if we know, like in this case, how do we tell our child that we refused contact?  That is more likely to rip our family apart than a legal return of the child.  Yes, a child might be frightened about being returned, as this child is: "Rohit, who speaks only Dutch, is also afraid of being forced to return. An initial court hearing earlier this year concluded that: 'The child is at the moment not prepared to co-operate with DNA testing ... He fears that his biological parents can claim him back at a certain point.'”  But that fear can be addressed, in part by explaining the truth -- that the biological family isn't asking for the child back:

Last week Kathirvel said that she was fighting for a DNA test and to at least have visiting rights and contact with her son. “I don’t feel any anger towards the Dutch couple,” she said. “But I would like him to know both sets of parents, and I want to tell him that his biological parents did everything to find him.”
I'm always touched by these cases where, despite their loss, the biological family is merely asking for contact, for information.  They are parents of this child, just like we are, and they don't want to do anything to hurt the child.  They seem quite aware of the trauma associated with a return at this late date -- they ask to share, not possess.

Can't we match their graciousness?  Ask yourself not only what you would do as an adoptive parent, but what would you do in the shoes of these parents?

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Where did you get your Chinese name?

Zoe's Chinese language camp starts on Tuesday, and yesterday she got a call from her teacher.  And yes, her teacher wanted to talk to her, not me, which I think is great. (She did speak to me for a few minutes, just to confirm the date and time and place, and she asked me if Zoe had a Chinese name.  I said yes, Yi Ling.)

Zoe told the teacher that she didn't understand much Chinese, but when the teacher asked her questions to test her understanding, Zoe was able to understand and answer in Chinese.  One question Zoe answered in English, so I heard her say, "I was in an orphanage and the director was Mr. Gan and he gave me my Chinese name."

Well, that explains it!  I don't think the teacher had figured out that Zoe was Chinese and adopted until that point.  That should prevent the double-take on Tuesday when I drop Zoe off!

Zoe is proud of her Chinese name, and likes that Mr. Gan named her.  It's a reminder that even orphanage-given names are important. 

Friday, June 4, 2010

Celebrity Adoption & Secrecy

Sandra Bullock waited months before announcing her adoption, and Sheryl Crow announced today that she adopted a second son a while ago.  Jenna at Chronicles of Munchkinland considers the "'hush-hush' that is surrounding recent adoption announcements in Hollywood:"

I’m hesitant to support any kind of secrecy in adoption. I thought we had pulled away from the Baby Scoop Era and moved toward something a bit more open. Even those who don’t support open adoption and on-going relationships with first families can admit that society’s past love-affair with secrecy in adoption wasn’t always the best choice. So when I see someone keeping a child’s addition to a family secret, even briefly, I kind of prickle. Again, I’m assuming that the secrecy is based upon a desire to avoid the media hounds. But still. They wouldn’t keep it a secret if they were growing a baby in their belly. I mean, we’ve got word that John Travolta’s wife is expecting another. Why treat the two differently?
Go read the whole thing, and then tell us what you think.  Is this trend toward secrecy a problem?

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Sierra Leone Parents Seek Answers in Adoption Cases

I posted before about parents in Sierra Leone seeking the return of their children who were adopted internationally without their knowledge or consent. There's more information here:

Balia Kamara's mother sent her to a center in northern Sierra Leone so the 5-year-old could receive an education and food, and stay out of harm's way during the West African country's brutal civil war.

The mother visited Balia at the Help A Needy Child International center, known as HANCI, regularly for two years until 1998, when the children there were taken to Sierra Leone's capital for medical examinations. They never returned.

Parents of about 30 children at the center say they only later learned that the children had been adopted by Americans and sent abroad without permission.

"We were reluctant to hand over the child," recalled Balia's mother, Mariama Jabbie, in an interview with The Associated Press. "When they told us that they were going to educate her up to college level, we decided to hand her over. That was how they were able to entice us to do so."

In 2004, the center's director and two of his employees were arrested and charged with conspiracy to violate adoption laws. Those charges against them though ultimately were dropped and the case disbanded, according to court records.

Now more than a decade after the children disappeared, Sierra Leone's government said late Wednesday it is setting up a national commission of inquiry to re-examine the case of the HANCI children following years of pressure from their biological parents.
Many of these children are now teens or young adults.  I wonder if they -- or their adoptive parents -- know about these birth parents' attempts to learn about the childrens' fates? The U.S. adoption agency involved says:
Mitchell said MAPS has been diligent in sending annual post-placement reports, along with photos of the adopted kids, to authorities in Sierra Leone as required.

"We can produce copies of those," she said. "We've been very rigorous."

While Sierra Leone is opening a national commission of inquiry, it is highly unlikely to bring the closure the birth parents are seeking. Mitchell said if the government requests contact be established between the adoptive families and birthfamilies: "I think they would have the right to say no."
The agency seems to be missing the fact that many of these children are now adults.  Do you think the agency should bypass the adoptive parents and contact the adult children directly?  Do you think the agency should be informing adoptive parents right now? What would you do as an adoptive parent if the agency contacted you with this information?

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Dr. Phil Today -- Adoption Disruption

I don't think I can bear to watch, but Dr. Phil's show today  is Adoption:  Return to Sender?
When a Tennessee mom put her 7-year-old adopted son on a one-way flight back to Russia, it caused an uproar that made the subject of international adoptions front-page news. Dr. Phil speaks with adoptive moms who say they relate to the woman’s decision, and unless you walk a mile in their shoes, you have no way of understanding. Learn what the experts say you should do to prepare for a cross-cultural adoption and how to get through the adoption process the right way.
If you watch the show, let us know how it went.  I don't have high hopes for anything other than sensationalized, shallow, and another word starting with S. . . .

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Good News For China's Orphans

From China Daily:

Orphaned children will from now on receive at least 600 yuan ($88) each month as living allowance till they turn 18 as the government tries to ensure that they are not left behind in the country's economic march.

The scheme will also cover children whose parents are both behind bars. Nearly 720,000 nationwide will benefit from the policy, Wang Zhenyao, director of the department of social welfare and promotion of charities affiliated to the Ministry of Civil Affairs, said Tuesday.

Currently, welfare institutions are largely funded by local governments but the allowances are meager - about 50-100 yuan per child each month - he said at the launch of the report Child Welfare in China, compiled by the ministry and the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) to mark International Children's Day.

"As China edges toward becoming the second largest economy with annual per capita GDP in major cities like Shanghai exceeding $4,000, it is time to spread the wealth among children," he said.

Just what does it take to be an adoptive parent?

That's the question Sally Maslansky asks at the Huffington Post in an article entitled Parenting and Adoption: Love and a Lot More:
Just what does it take to be an adoptive parent? As an adoptive parent and therapist working with adoptive families, I can tell you that it does indeed take a great deal more than love.

But I think the most relevant question to be asking here is: In what part of any of our lives is love actually all that it takes?

* * *

I believe that what it takes to parent a child from such a background is the ability to put all preconceived notions of what it means to be a parent aside, and to develop an ability to begin to understand and honor the staggering reality of what this child's life has been up to the point of their adoption. To go into adoption knowing and honoring that this child has a profound history of its own.

How do we develop the skills necessary to understand our child's story in order to help them make sense of it for themselves? Well, the place to start is with making sense of our own story first. In fact, one thing that attachment theory informs us about is that the best predictor of a child's security of attachment is the degree to which that child's parent or caregiver has made sense of his or her own story.

* * *

This is crucial information that I hope will be helpful to the adoption community. So when asked, what does it take to be an adoptive parent, I would suggest it does indeed take a great deal of love, with a lot of self-understanding and knowing, an ability to be sensitive to your child's individual needs, as well as all the information on childhood development and attachment you can get your hands on. There is no such thing as a perfect parent, but efforts to perfect the art of parenting is the pursuit of any parent's lifetime.
So her answer to what it takes to be an adoptive parent -- love, self-awareness, honoring your child's past, understanding of attachment and childhood development.  What would you add?