Changed Thoughts on Adoption


I have SO MUCH to learn.  I'm like a first-time mom all over again.  10 years from now, I'm sure I'll look back at some comments I've made over the past year and laugh at myself.  But I don't believe I'm going in blind.  

An older Chinese gentleman walks hand-in-hand with a young Tian, around age 1 1/2.
Tian with a grandfather from his foster family in China.

Well, it's been just about 10 years since I wrote that, and I was right and wrong. I DO look back at some things and laugh, but I also cringe at a lot.  I wasn't going in blind, but as I have learned, the more I know there is to learn.

I cringe at posts like this.  My statements about provision for the adoption are not even theologically sound.  It's just something I learned to repeat without really thinking about the implications.  "This was God's plan" and "God provided the funds for us to adopt," are now phrases that I totally disagree with.  How can I say that God decided to give us tens of thousands of dollars to adopt, but not provide a fraction of that amount that would have allowed the boys to stay with their first families?  Yes, Chairman Mao put the one child policy into effect years ago that created the domino effect leading to the need for kids to find families and you could say adoption solved his "sinful" behavior, but without the one child policy, how many millions would have died of starvation?  People a lot smarter than me have studied and written on the issues in China, but my point is, I can't explain it all away by claiming God's will.  And if God planned all that or even allowed it, why?  What god would allow for all of that?   

To be clear, we do not regret for one second adopting the boys.  They are happy to be Brownies.  The problem of adoption is not something that we could have fixed within their lifetime, but we can't ignore the problems surrounding adoption, specifically transracial and international adoption.

Since the boys are deaf and hard-of-hearing, we did then and do now feel as confident as possible that they were willingly relinquished by their first families and not trafficked, but it's something we likely will never know with absolute certainty. Even if they were "willing," they would have been left with no choice. One of the boys is from a small city that housed a child trafficking ring right at the time we adopted, and that's a fact we can't or shouldn't ignore.  Adoptive families are consistently lied to about their kids' "finding" stories.  If you haven't, watch "One Child Nation." Please, adults, watch before you decide to show your kids. I only showed portions of this one to the one of my sons who was interested to watch. It gets very dark and graphic at one point.  He can decide to watch that if he wants to when he's older.  (The documentary is fully captioned, but on the trailer, only the Mandarin portions are subtitled.)

One of my kids loves to talk about his first family. He wonders about his birth parents and his potential biological siblings.  He likes to watch adoption documentaries with me, even the darker ones, and talk about all of the aspects of adoptions and the possibilities of his first days or weeks of life before arriving at the Social Welfare Institute.  We go over the adoption story his SWI gave us and the more we do, the less we believe much of it.  He likes to remember his foster family (he's pictured above with the grandfather of that family) and we hope to visit them if we can connect in the next several years.  After asking for more than a year, he got a genetic testing kit for Christmas.  He can't wait to get his results to see if it returns any answers, although he's aware the odds are against him.  At least he'll know something more than he knows right now.  

Our other kid shuts down and doesn't want to discuss it when we bring up the topic of his first three years. He doesn't want to do genetic testing.  He doesn't know if he has any memories (or doesn't want to share them if he does.)  He stares blankly at old photos from the orphanage, sometimes making note of a certain toy he sees.  If I tell him, "Your brother is curious about his birth family, are you?" he will answer, "I prefer to stay with you."  We've made it abundantly clear that we are his family forever and ever AND at the same time, he can miss, wonder, and even seek out his birth family.  We know he understands that now, but is still not in a place where he wants or is willing or able to talk about it.  Whatever feelings he's keeping in about it will eventually spill over, so in the meantime, it's our job to make sure he knows, like his brother, that it's safe to feel however he feels about things.   

No White Saviors Instagram and Website
Ex-Adoptee Instagram 
WreckageAndWonder Instagram

Following blogs and social media of adoptees have helped us change how we talk about things. For one, we no longer refer to the day we met the boys as their "Gotcha" day.  It was simply the day we first met!  If you look up the definition of "gotcha," you'll find this: an instance of publicly tricking someone or exposing them to ridicule, especially by means of an elaborate deception.  Ew.  Pass.  

We also no longer ever compare adopting the boys to the the Biblical reference to God adopting people. I think Christians have been shortsighted and not thoughtful when using this comparison, but that can be a discussion for another day. Here's one perspective from a Christian adoptee.

What about you? For adoptive families who have been on this journey for a while, what has changed about your perspectives? How do you talk about this with your kids?  Who are some adoptees you follow on social media? Adoptees, what are your thoughts?  And what have been your experiences with genetic tests?


  1. My brothers are adopted from Korea at 23 months and 8 months. They are now 28 and 30. Over the years, they have been fairly uninterested in their adoption processes beyond some basic questions. As adults, they have shown basically zero interest. They are satisfied with their lives here and focused on that.

    My family was always very open with them about the process of adoption from our experience. We were around other families who had adopted children both domestically and internationally. We incorporated aspects of their culture in our family life. Again, they were largely uninterested as children. As adults, they have made comments occasionally about how they are treated differently because of their race, but nothing in terms of adoption.

    As far as religion, we are Christian and do see God's hand guiding our process both times my family chose adoption. But there is always that aspect of the trauma that occurred in order to bring our family together. Yes, they came home to be in our family forever, but that also means that another family was unable/unwilling to accept them. It's hard and there's no getting around it, even if it's often just in the background. (And we always use the term Homecoming. "Gotcha" wasn't a term used back in the early 1990s. It was a simple word that made sense to them when they were little.)

    And, of course, this is just my perspective about my family. Looking back over the 30 years of my family's "adoption journey", it wasn't easy or simple, but it was right.

    1. I love this, Sarah Beth. I'm sure the fact that your family was so open freed your brothers to feel however they felt about it. That's what we have aimed to do with our boys since before we met them.
      From what I've learned from other adult adoptees, many kids feel guilty for even wondering about their first families and their first days/weeks/years. Adoption has grown greatly from the Christian movements and I see too many Christian families go into it without centering the child, but instead centering themselves. I'm glad your brothers had a great adoptive family. :)

    2. I agree, it sounds like you're working with both of your boys to process how and when they want to. That's all you can do.

      I think there is always room for kids to have trouble processing complex/traumatic issues at such young ages and adoption is definitely complex and possibly traumatic on so many levels. Just like with all parts of our lives, everyone needs to feel free to feel and express themselves however they need to. (I know you know this, but sometimes it helps to hear someone else say it, too.)

      And I've seen a lot of people adopting for the wrong reasons or making it into a bigger deal than it is so they can get more attention for being a "good person/Christian". The best families might start out with wrong/misguided motivations, but over time they learn and grow. The not-so-good families... well, I just try to share a different perspective when possible and avoid them when it's not.

      Thank you for sharing all the parts of your life/journey. It's a good "witness" of how real life is. Adopted kids are complicated/totally normal, just like the rest of their family members. (And as a non-adopted sibling, I appreciate that your story includes all of your family!)

  2. Thanks for a very interesting blog. What else may I get that kind of info written in such a perfect approach? I’ve a undertaking that I am simply now operating on, and I have been at the look out for such info.


Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

A Review: Maya Chan Beach Resort In Costa Maya, Mexico

Travis Update Ending 2013

2022 Year In Review