I have adopted from China four times now. We adopted a little girl in 2012, then a boy in 2013, a girl again in 2014 and one more amazing little girl in 2015. Prior to those four adoptions we had adopted domestically and completed the adoption of four infants over the course of six years, and then three children from Ghana in West Africa.
All in all, I’ve had my fair share of experience with adoption. I understand, largely, the benefits and drawbacks of the paths on might choose to take to bring their child home. The paths, no matter which you start down, are long and winding. There are bumps in the road no matter what you choose. No path is ever without its challenges.
When we began our adoptions from China there was the internet, of course, and there was Facebook to help me along. These are all personal experiences though. Every personal experience, including mine, has bias to it. Even when you don’t mean it to, your personal experience shapes the way we feel, talk and think about something as personal as an adoption. I used the internet to help me understand the actual mechanics of the adoption process, and to gather real life experiences.
This, for all the reasons I mentioned, wasn’t ideal. There was no better source for help though. There was no Red Thread Adoptive Parent Toolkit, our agency was pretty well informed, but not the kind that holds a parent’s hand. Our Social Worker at the time wasn’t affiliated with our placing agency and didn’t even really understand China adoption herself. It was hard to know where to go for good, fact based, first hand information.
Kelly Mayfield, a mom of two little boys through adoption from China, has done her best to give a would-be adoptive parent a fact-based guide to China adoption. Mine in China: Your Comprehensive Guide to Adopting From China is just that. Kelly has done a wonderful job of removing the emotion from an emotional process and giving potential adoptive parents the facts about adopting from China.
Her guide includes the history of adoption from China. In her book, she includes information about the changing face of the program so that parents can understand the landscape of the program prior to diving in. She talks about the dangers of the internet and information on adoption, highlighting what I myself personally experienced, the information you might find, but also the bias it might contain.
She gives the reader everything they would need to know about the all important topic of actually affording adoption. Sadly, there is no magical cure to this ongoing struggle. Adoption is expensive, no matter which path you choose. Kelly discusses fundraising and faith, what to think about when adopting a child with a special need, choosing an agency, the ins and outs of the process itself, preparing, traveling and adjusting with your new child. This is pretty much all you’d need to know, cover to cover.
You’ll, of course, want to supplement this information with the personal stories from the internet though. There is nothing that can replace the information that is gathered through hearing real life experiences. So, bias and all, I’m going to encourage you to listen to those too, and the author of this book does as well. She just guides you on how to do that with a more neutral, and informed, lens.
There were things that even I learned from this book. Within this comprehensive guide is a portion on another kind of bias in adoption, the choice adoptive parents make when they select the gender of the child they hope to adopt. I knew that, overwhelmingly, parents hope to adopt a girl when they set out on this journey. I never really considered the whys of it though. After all, of the four children I adopted from China, three of them are girls. Do I have bias? Maybe.
Kelly spends a few pages of her guide exploring where those biases may have originated. This, for me, was, by far, the most eye opening part, especially as a China adoption advocate. I see boys with mild to moderate medical or developmental needs wait so much longer then their girl counterparts. I see parents lining up to wait for the files of girls. I see boys wait for families in an equally long line.
Beyond the portion of her book devoted to this subject, Kelly has a blog on some of the possible history and bias that led to this gender preference in adoption. I won’t try to summarize it for you. I will let you educate yourself by reading it all HERE.
For moms of girls, like me, none of this is said to make you feel bad, or guilty in any way. The sole purpose of this discussion is to educate parents and to raise awareness. With that in mind, Red Thread is going to devote the entirety of next week to the amazing boys who wait. Each day next week will be spent highlighting a little boy who needs a family to look past gender and special need to see how amazing parenting a son can be. I know, first hand. Sons are so very worth it.
Join us next week as we begin a week of amazing boys!