Monday, May 5, 2008

Adoption: An Excruciating Process

It was a little over 2 years ago that my husband and I set out on what we thought would be a beautiful, heartwarming journey. We made the decision to adopt a child internationally.

We believed that our journey to our child would be full of smiles, excitement and anticipation. We were wrong. It was instead filled with tears, fear and anxiety. What we thought of as a beautiful journey in the beginning, we realized was actually an excruciating process.

There is of course a story behind our adoption process, but I will save that for another post. For now I just want to touch on the subject of how my opinion about adoption has changed since that day 2 years ago when we set out on our "journey". There are many sayings out there about how we learn from our mistakes or by trial and error or through experience. Well, however you say it, we did in fact learn a lot. My hope is that people who come across this blog can learn from all of us here who have been through it. I wish I had come along a resource like this 2 years ago. Perhaps I would not have had to learn the hard way. (yet another of those wonderful sayings)

The following question was asked of the members of this blog. How has your opinion about adoption changed from when you began to now? What have you learned and what advice/insights do you feel are vital to share to new PAPs?

When we started out I believed that we would keep that happy, excited feeling throughout the whole journey. Instead I became physically ill due to the stress involved with the process. Stress headaches, stomach aches, backaches and fatigue were my constant companion for nearly a year. I thought adoption was supposed to be a joyous experience and in the end when we got our son it was, but the process itself was torture. Nobody warned me about that and I was naive and had no idea how hard it would all be on me. My advice to new PAP's: be aware that this is not going to be all fun and smiles. The process is hard and it's stressful. Be prepared for the worst and hope for the best.

Another thing I didn't realize was just how scary international adoption can be. I used to hear all the time about birthmothers in the US changing their minds but I had never heard of it happening with international adoption until it happened to our friends. It does happen and that is something else people need to be aware of. For my husband and I the fear was not of the birthmother returning but of an official stepping in to disrupt our adoption. We were threatened by our adoption agency about that. I journaled our adoption process at Roller Coaster Ride To Kazakhstan, which is now a private blog. I made it private because between trips Orson Mozes of Adoption International Program called us on the phone and told us that my blog had angered officials in Kaz and that we may not be able to bring our son home. He "warned" us to make the blog private or remove it altogether. It turned out to be nothing more than a scare tactic by Mozes to get us to take down the blog. The fact was he and his staff were not happy with my blog because I spoke out against him. He "warned" that our 2nd trip might take longer than other people's had and that we may have troubles on that trip. He was right, but it was trouble and delays caused by his staff as retribution against me for the blog. Until my son touched down on US soil, I was in constant fear of something going wrong. My advice to new PAP's: If you blog it may be best to stay anonymous. I feel it is important to tell the truth so others can know what is going on, so don't mislead people into thinking everything is wonderful. Just be careful about who may be reading your blog and how they may react.

Of course, the most important thing I learned is that adoption is not the same thing to all parties involved. To the agencies it is a business. It is a way for them to make money. It is a way for the countries the children are coming from to make money as well. To us PAP's (prospective adoptive parents) adoption is about bringing a child into our family. It is about finding our son or daughter. This is the problem. There is a big, BIG, difference in motivation from PAP's to agencies. Because of this it makes us easy targets. There are of course good agencies out there. It is simply important to realize that there are also bad agencies with no interest in the families or the children they are supposedly trying to help. My advice to new PAP's: I learned that the number one rule in adoption is to research any agency you are thinking of using, and then research it some more. I actually wrote a page dedicated to this on another site of mine. You can find that here.

I now view adoption differently than I did before. I still believe it is a good thing. I have an amazing son and he has a family now. That is of course an incredibly wonderful thing. It is the process itself that is terribly flawed. It needs change and regulation. Adoption is amazing... the adoption process is pure hell!

1 comment:

Dawn & Joe DeLorenzo said...

Kim thank you so much for sharing your candid insights. I, too, wish I read a blog like this BEFORE, but we also believed adoption was a "wonderful process" and that the waiting would be the hardest part. Waiting was hard, but the fear and emotional devastation is incomparable to any other experience.

Joe and I also thought the same as you: We feared adopting in the U.S. and that the birthmother would come back. Those are the crazy stories you hear about on the news that the media sensationalizes.

On the flip side - the media has often portrayed international adoption in its best light. Only in recent years have reporters been exposing the pervasive corruption.