Thursday, June 8, 2006

The ramblings of a deranged mind

You might be saying to yourself, “This is an adoption blog right? So where is all the adoption news? What’s going here? Why all the sudden silence on the adoption front?”

Well, you asked for it…

Ever since our potential domestic adoption came up everything has been up in the air adoption wise. I don’t know where we stand right now, and I’m afraid to ask Z-man where he stands, again, because his head may explode! There are so many things going on in my head I sometimes feel like I may join him. How to build our family has become a topic of hot debate around here.

Until the moment when we thought we may have been picked to adopt that baby, we had never seriously considered domestic adoption. I was discouraged by someone I talked to early in our adoption journey; she seemed to think we had little hope of finding a birth mom match. We are young, have bio children, are not religious, and are attachment parents; which apparently makes us pariahs in the domestic adoption world. We just skipped over all that hoo-ha and went straight to international adoption. But, now that I know that at least one person was willing to consider us as parents for her child, I feel like maybe there are more women who will see us as quirky and experienced rather than just plain odd.

Ever since then, I’ve been researching domestic adoption and boy! I’m confused. There are agencies, facilitators, and lawyers, all of whom will help you get a baby for anywhere from $15K to $40K+. It’s all very murky and the rules and laws differ by state. The cost alone is prohibitive to us. If you find your own birth mom and you just need the legal/counseling fees then you are looking at the lower price range, (more our speed) but then that begs the question, “How do you find a birth mom?” I picture myself walking down the street and asking every pregnant woman I come across if they’re considering placing their baby and how do they feel about quirky parents? Ok…maybe not!

So, yesterday it hit me, I know just where to find the perfect birth parents. They would love our quirks, love that we have 2 beautiful daughters, and just plain love everything about us…who are these wonderful birth parents you might ask? (I know Z-man did!) Why, us, of course! We are fabulous birth parents and I know we wouldn't mind having us raise the baby. Ok, this may seem silly, but the thought has occurred to me.

I loved giving birth to my children. Princess was born in the birth-center after 24 hours of hard, all natural labor. She was never taken from my side. She was all slippery and wet on my tummy and she looked at me as the first person she’d ever seen. Cookie was born at home in a pool of warm water, in the very bedroom where she is currently sleeping. She was born into her daddy’s hands with the midwives looking on and didn’t leave the house until she was 1 week old. My niece was born at the same birth-center into my hands and my nephew was born into water at home with me looking on. These are the experiences I’ve had with bringing children into my family. I’m having a hard time letting go of that and finding peace with a different path.

Ok, so I know that my last pregnancy was a nightmare, that I had morning sickness for 20 weeks, that I could barely walk by 14 weeks, and that I was off and on bed rest for most of the time. I know that these problems can become worse with each pregnancy and I could be looking at 30 weeks of severe pain and bed rest and possible permanent injuries. I also know that I am the primary caregiver to two young children, whose hubby who works two jobs and travels quite often. Crazy you say…well yes, but really, it’s an idea; probably a bad one, which is why we decided on adoption in the first place.

And then there’s Ethiopia; wonderful, beautiful, interesting, Ethiopia. I’ve let this country into my heart and it has found a place there. I love the culture, the history and the people. Why not just go with the original plan and adopt from there? Basically, I’m terrified that I don’t have what it takes to raise an Ethiopian child here, in my small rural, white town. All the talk about racism on the EthiopianAdopt yahoo group has me scared. I’ve also been reading books on transracial adoption and all seem to agree that white people can raise happy healthy children of color, if they live in a culturally diverse area and are willing an able to bring that child’s culture into their home and lives, essentially becoming a transracial family.

I don’t think we would have any trouble embracing our adopted child’s culture, and I don’t have any trouble with the idea that we would become a transracial family; in fact I think that is a major benefit. I do, however, have trouble with the living in a racially diverse area; not because I wouldn’t, but because we don’t. Z-man and I have made our lives here. We own a business, have kids in school and all my family is here. We are rooted to this place and have made it our home and our children’s home. I love many things about my town, but I hate that it’s not racially or culturally diverse.

In the 2000 census, it was reported that we have a black population of 0.8%! Yes, less than 1% and I don’t think that has changed much in the last few years. We live 900 miles from the nearest city with a diverse population and we can only get there by plane or boat. This means providing a culturally diverse experience for our child will be very difficult.

Someone on the EA board posed the question, "if you had a child with a serious medical condition, would you stay at home far from the specialized medical care he needed or would you move to a place that had the care that child needed?" She correlates this with the needs of a colored child to live in a diverse area. The child needs to be around be people who look like them, to find role models and teachers who can give them the advice and education that we, as the privileged white folk, can’t; an education about racism. We need to be as willing to move to give that child the things he needs as we would a child with a medical condition.

I’ve been thinking long and hard about this and I do see her point. I want my child to have the opportunity to be in the majority, to find his/her place in a racist world. I want to believe that I could find ways to help them learn this here, but I’m worried that I won’t, and we are not willing to move right now to find those things. Does this mean we are not ready to take this journey? I try to tell myself that living here is better than starving in Ethiopia, but that seems selfish. I wouldn’t have another child if I couldn’t afford to provide for their basic needs, and I don’t think I should adopt one if I can’t provide for this need.

Z-man and I have differing opinions about all of this. He believes that I can teach our child how to fit in, how to overcome racism, how to be a strong and proud person of color. I want to believe that I can, but I’m not sure.

In her resent post, Margaret asks Santa for decisiveness and conviction in her adoption journey. I’d like to second that request.

Santa? Are you there? Help!


MP2 said...

That was a really interesting post. We've faced many of the same issues: same reasons for discouragement from domestic adoption and living in a small, predominantly white community. Thanks for exploring these things on your blog.

jeneflower said...

I think it is important that if you adopt a different race than yourself or if you adopt a child with special needs than you should live in a culturally diverse area and/or in a place where there is medical care or services for the special needs. If you know that you won't be able to do this than I wouldn't do it. That is just my personally feelings on the matter. If I were doing domestic I would skip the adoption agencies and look for the best lawyer in the field and go that route.

Margaret said...

You so eloquently expressed what I've always been concerned about with trans-racial adoption. I would never doubt my ability to love and parent a child of any other race. But my community is so homogenous I worry about giving a child of another race what they really need.

These decisions are SO big. That's why I waffle sometimes. Decisiveness and conviction. That would be nice.

Whatever you decide I'm sure you'll do a wonderful job.

Anne said...

Mandy, I agree the unknowns are scary -- we never considered domestic adoption, but we've always planned to adopt again from Ethiopia, in part to at least populate our family with some racial diversity, regardless of the community we are living in. But there are so many variables we can't control, some we don't even know exist, I'm sure.

Sounds like you're really thinking this through, which is great and hard at the same time. I'll bet that after you let it all settle, the right thing for your family will become clear.

Best of luck in whatever you decide!

Elle said...

Fascinating topic. Racial differences and community never really occured to us because we live in such a diverse area. The decisions you make for your family and your children are some of the toughest you face. I wish you the best in your decision making process.

sarah said...

It is definitely great that you are taking the time to think the issues prior to adopting as opposed to after. Just remember, in the end everything will come together, whichever route you choose to take!

"M" said...

Wow. I have the same thoughts about race (I'm adopting from China). i wish I knew the answer for you. Even though I worry (and believe me, I do), I feel like this is the way I should go. I also don't live in a very diverse (race) location. I hope I can help my daughter with her identity issues... as I'm sure there will be some.

The best I can offer is - go with your heart. There is a reason you're drawn to Ethiopia...

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