Wednesday, June 11, 2008

So, why exactly are you adopting?

Good question.

I got pregnant fast. A little too fast –if anyone tells you that you have to wait a few months once you go off the pill before your body can conceive DON’T believe them. Use birth control. Really.
I write this not to make light of our good fortune or to belittle anyone's fertility struggles but because I think the fact that we got pregnant so easily added to people's surprise when we announced we were planning to adopt instead of conceive a second baby.

It's hard for me to articulate the reasons I wanted to adopt a baby. I will not speak for Jeremy here because he has his own motivations and concerns and frankly I was, at the beginning, much more gung ho on the adoption thing then he was - a topic for another time.

Before this stay at home gig, I spent most of my career working in South East Asia and Sub Sarahan Africa. I've seen a lot of kids in a lot of dire circumstances, from refugee camps to HIV clinics to their parent's funerals. The idea that "there are children out there who need homes" is more concrete when you can picture the twelve year old in Kigali who is raising her five siblings, or the ten year old in Monrovia who is sleeping with Peacekeepers in order to gain access to food for her family.

On an entirely selfish note, I had a difficult pregnancy and a horrid birth experience which did not leave me eager to do it all again. The fact that I am so in love with my son, that staying home with him and watching him grow has been so unexpectedly and astounding fulfilling and joyful makes me eager to have more children.

Combine these factors with an interest in other people and cultures, race and social structure, and the fact that I think Jeremy and I are not half bad at this parenting thing with my belief (which has wavered during the adoption process at times) that I can love with intensity a child who I raise regardless of biological ties and voila.

I realize this explanation is not necessarily a "good one". I realize it has colonialist overtones. (Undertones?) Do I think I can give this child a better life than the one they would have were they not taken away from their home? Do I think spending tens of thousands of dollars to bring this child home when the same money would make it possible for her family to raise and provide for her and many others makes sense? Is ethical? Moral? Do I think the idea of well off american white people raising poor black ethiopian's babies is ok? Yes, no, I don't know, no...

International adoption seems, thus far, an ethically dubious potentially detrimental enterprise which we are moving into with as much care sensitivity and love as possible. It is also how we have chosen to build our family and when I think about *our* daughter, the baby we will bring home, love, raise, and tackle all this issues with, the "big picture" questions seem to fade away and everything feels as it should. Is that ok? Does that make me ethically dubious? Would I know if I was?


Gail said...

Like they say, it's turtles all the way down. I admire your relentless doubt; you know there's no truth, but you can't stop seeking (or sinking). Adopted or biological, the kid will be fine. Love la auntie

Karen said...

dude...I love it! You are incredibly thoughtful and funny. Since our 5-minute chats and 2-hour time difference make involved conversations a challenge, I look forward to reading about your current adventures. still call. I will too.