One of the first questions I was asked about when we first shared with family, friends, and the rest of the world that we’d decided on international adoption was, “Why?”
The question varied by asker: “Why would you do that when there are so many kids here who need loving homes?” “Why don’t you try private adoption?” “Why that country?” “Why don’t you go through the foster care system?” “Why would you do that; it’s so expensive?” But no matter the asker or how the question was phrased, the meaning was all too clear—clearly, these folks had a problem with our decision or felt they somehow had the absolute right to weigh in on it for whatever reason.
I was not prepared for the onslaught of boundary stomping questions from folks whom I never dared dream to grill on a similar level as they grilled me. I mean, I guess the question in reverse would come out something like, “Why did you choose to get pregnant when you know there are so many waiting children in this country?” “Why did you choose that partner to get pregnant with when there are so many other options out there?” “Why would you have a child knowing he or she will drain your bank account for the next 18+ years straight?”
But unlike the traditional family, the adoptive family and the concept of adoption itself is that elephant in the room that everyone feels entitled and eager to push up against. Don’t get me wrong, I understand the fascination with adoption and am all about educating and sharing all sides of adoption to help those who have a true interest in learning more. But there is a difference in tone and body language and timing that adoptive parents just come to expect from the askers whose only interest is to try and figure out why someone would do something so totally against what society likes to preach is the norm.
And so, I handled the questions the best way I knew how and answered them as honestly as I could. The truth is, and I believe this, many adoptions are nearly as out of our hands as are pregnancies and how they come about. While you can do all the research and planning you want, things don’t always turn out the way you may first have anticipated.
We didn’t choose to adopt a child from another country over so many kids who need loving homes. We chose to adopt a child from another country who also needed a loving home. We didn’t choose the domestic private adoption route not because there was anything wrong with it, but because we had done our research and decided it wasn’t for us. We really didn’t “pick” the country. Truly, the country came with the child with whom we were matched and fell in love with. More specifically, we were drawn to a particular orphanage and agency that happened to be in the said country and admired their views on adoption, and most importantly, their views toward the children involved. We have the highest regard for foster families. We researched foster care, even attended some meetings, and simply felt we weren’t a right fit at the time. As for the finances, having children is expensive. Adoption is expensive. If you have to ask about the money, starting a family is most likely not a good idea for you.
I oftentimes found myself feeling put on the spot and somewhat pressured to answer these questions just because I had chosen international adoption. I felt like I was bound to answer. If I could go back in time, though, I’d probably respond with something more along the lines of, “Why do you care?”