In our first few conversations about adoption, the big question was: from where?
We are not experts, but here is a breakdown of our thoughts and understandings of domestic vs. international adoption.
Domestic adoptions usually grow out of foster care. While not every foster family expects to adopt the child, many who want to adopt domestically start out as a foster family. Our thinking was that we couldn't handle a disrupted adoption. If, while the child is a placed foster child, the birth family has a change of heart, legally they have a claim on the child and can remove them from foster care. We knew we couldn't handle this, even if the risk was relatively small. A large part of our thinking on this was to protect our children from heartache. We knew that they would attach themselves immediately to a new sister and would love her as one of our own. They would not understand the reasons she left, and would simply feel like they lost a sister. We did not want them to ever wonder if they also could be taken away since their sister was.
When it comes to domestic adoption; one concern was the idea of open adoption. While it isn't a regular thing, open adoptions have become more common in the last decade or so. Open adoptions are where biological family members of the adopted child maintain contact. This can be birthmothers, birthfathers, siblings, and grandparents. Essentially, the idea is for the adopted child to have interaction with her biological family, creating a very extended family network. There are different levels of open adoption and many different reasons why people would choose this option. However, it was not an option we were prepared to manage. Open adoptions are more common in domestic adoptions simply because there is usually more information known about the child's family.
It was also clear to us that the wait time for placement in domestic adoption can be very long. The age range of child we are looking to adopt can create especially long wait times in the US while parent rights are terminated. While it is a good thing, a really good thing that there aren't hundreds of children simply waiting to be picked, it does mean that when a family is ready to adopt, it can be a long, drawn out process, filled with long periods of simply waiting.
Additionally, there are many couples who are unable to have children and desperately want to be matched with a birthmother and receive a newborn. We did not want to take that opportunity from someone. We did not want to add our profile into the mix to compete for a domestic newborn, when we have had the opportunity to raise three of our own.
Thus we began looking at international adoption.
Clearly, international adoption includes any nation other than the U.S. However, most adoption agencies specialize in adoptions from certain countries. When we picked our agency, Nightlight Christian Adoptions, it narrowed our country choices simply by the fact that they conduct adoptions from 14 countries.
One of our concerns with this consideration was that international adoption has become hip. With many celebrities adopting internationally, we didn't want to be seen as a family who has a token black baby. We searched our hearts on this one. We prayed through it and discussed it at length. And we concluded that by the very fact that we are concerned about it being perceived as being cool, we are not motivated by the social trend to have a transracial family. In fact, it is honestly, a little (sometimes a lot!) scary to anticipate becoming an obviously adoptive family.
International adoption also requires a lot of work. Actually, all adoption does (as the home study is plenty of work), but international adoption also requires a whole dossier which is no simple task. International adoption also requires travel to the country of the child. We had to weigh this out. Some countries require multiple trips, which means growing costs, and time off of work, and time away from our other children. Some countries required long trips, which means growing costs. And no matter where you travel or for how long, international adoption is an expensive endeavor. Not to mention language and cultural barriers, both for us as travelers but for our new child as well.
The reality is that with international adoption, you are taking an already hurting child and ripping her away from the only world, language, food, etc. that she knows, even if it is an impoverished and under stimulating existence. This is an important issue that we had to be prepared to address with our daughter.
And did I mention the cost? I'm not just being flippant here. Cost is a real consideration. Domestic adoption is a cheaper option and foster adoption can actually be free. International adoption has a considerable price tag. Statistically, cost is the reason most people who consider adopting, decide not to.
Ultimately, we decided international adoption was the best fit for our family. We feel called to grow our family in this way. We feel prepared to love a child who needs a family. We feel capable of overcoming cultural hurdles as well as adapting our lives and family to become more international -although we laugh when we consider a little Chinese girl with the last name DeClercq! Although truth be told, DeClercq is no cake walk of a name for any of us to handle. And as for the cost, so far we have been able to fund the expenses out of savings. Although we have had considerable expense so far, the bulk of the cost is still ahead of us. We trust that God will provide the means to bring our daughter home.
So, stay tuned for a breakdown of cost, and how we picked China.