Russian Orphan Makes Six

Welcome to the Tuesday guest blog. Every Tuesday "On Balance" features the views of a guest writer. It could be your neighbor, your boss, your most loved or hated poster from the blog, or you! Send me your entry (300 words or fewer) for consideration. Obviously, the topic should be something related to balancing your life.

By Shari MacDonald Strong

When I announce to friends and co-workers that a teenager from St. Petersburg is living with our family this summer, people think I'm crazy. They have a point. My husband and I already have three children, ages three to six. But I keep remembering what Michael J. Fox said in an interview before his fourth child's birth: Something about looking around at his family and realizing someone was missing from the party.

If a child is missing from our family, I thought I knew where we'd find her. We've already adopted from Russia, so I located an international hosting program, sort of a cultural vacation for orphans. I expected that we'd know immediately if our host child is our future daughter. It feels more complicated than that.

A high-spirited beauty with mischievous blue eyes, 14-year-old Olga agonizes over a harmless sore on her lip, draping her golden brown hair dramatically across her mouth like Dracula's mustache. She teases our children as relentlessly as a blood sibling, screams to wake the dead when tickled, dreams of attending music school. She melts into me for hugs, walks with her arm locked in mine and wants desperately to be adopted but begs our interpreter not to tell us.

I want our family to be a fit for this remarkable child and agonize because it doesn't feel that way yet. I worry about how the kids get along, feel exhausted by the expenditure of energy required to balance the needs of small children and a teen. My work gets done late at night, when everyone else is sleeping. Was I crazy to try this? If we're not Olga's family, who is? How do I weigh her needs against my family's--or my own? I want to strive for some kind of balance, but wonder: When it comes to work, children and family, does balance exist?


Shari MacDonald Strong writes the Zen and the Art of Child Maintenance column for Literary Mama, where she is also Creative Nonfiction Editor. Her work has appeared in It's a Girl: Women Writers on Raising Daughters , and has written on international orphan hosting at Mamazine.com.

By Leslie Morgan Steiner |  July 25, 2006; 7:13 AM ET  | Category:  Guest Blogs
Previous: Could You Be A Stay-at-Home Mom? | Next: Business Schools Target Stay-at-Home Moms


Add On Balance to Your Site
Keep up with the latest installments of On Balance with an easy-to-use widget. It's simple to add to your Web site, and it will update every time there's a new entry to On Balance.
Get This Widget >>


Comments

Please email us to report offensive comments.



I geuss American orphans don't need a family?

Posted by: ? | July 25, 2006 7:44 AM

To ?:

Did someone wake up on the wrong side of the bed this morning? Unless you have personally explored or experienced adoption (domestic and/or international), cut this woman some slack. Let's assume international adoption is right for her and her family. Geez...

Posted by: Too early for this... | July 25, 2006 8:07 AM

Too Early for This:

I understand, but it's a fair question. Not exactly on topic, but since when does that not happen? Every time I hear about people adopting babies from China, Russia, Guatamala, etc., I wonder the same thing. Even when I know parents are free to exercise their own choices. And the guest blogger is a big girl; I'm guessing she can take it.

So, I too want to know:

"I guess American orphans don't need a family?"

Posted by: momoftwo | July 25, 2006 8:21 AM

?,
It's a lot harder to adopt in country. Isn't it good that a kid, any kid, has a chance to have a good home? After all, we're all human. It's not like American kids are better or more deserving than any other kid.

Shari, you're not crazy. You're doing what your heart is telling you to do. Good luck.

Posted by: kate | July 25, 2006 8:22 AM

Shari:

Your post touched my heart so much that I sat here with tears in my eyes, pleading with you to adopt this child. I know, I'm not the one doing all the work, and even though your post was beautiful, I have no intention of adopting a child (my two boys are my joys, but enough for me.)

But you and this visiting child touched my heart. And at the very least I will be a regular reader of you in your regular Internet home.

Thanks for the gift.

Posted by: Linell | July 25, 2006 8:28 AM

Well, it is easier to adopt an international child and not a domestic one, that is unless you are rich, then you can walk into the adoption agency and pick out a child and adopt it pretty quick. Quite Ironic I must say...

Posted by: Joe D. | July 25, 2006 8:33 AM

God bless her and good luck with your decision. I was adopted from Viet Nam in the 1970s. Not everyone wants a white baby. But the truth is that it is hard to get a healthy newborn in this country. Also it is not as likely that the biological parent's will come back in two years and ask for their kid back. That has happened here. I think it is very risky to adopt in this country. And every child has a right to a loving home; Russian or American. God bless a women and a family like this. She is doing a beautiful thing.

Posted by: lieu | July 25, 2006 8:36 AM

I'm struck by the last line of her post: "When it comes to work, children and family, does balance exist?"

It's an excellent question, and one worthy of some discussion (since that's the main point of this blog, right?).

Anyhow, I think that balance does exist, but the reality of balance is that it is very hard and involves a lot of tradeoffs and that every family does it differently. This is hard to accept, because, at least for me, I really didn't get how hard that would be until I became a mother. It pretty much floored me, actually. And then, to have to accept it and deal with it and consciously make the tradeoffs is also hard.

BUT, I think if we're honest with ourselves about the choices we've made, and know the reasons for them, then we can live with them and be happy with them. And, for me, that's balance.

Posted by: VAMom | July 25, 2006 8:37 AM

Maybe I read this article wrong, but it sounded pretty horrible to me. This child came all the way to America in the hopes that she *might* be adopted? Assuming the family likes her and it all works out? And if it doesn't, back she goes? That can't be good for the ol' self-image.

Posted by: Didi | July 25, 2006 8:39 AM

Wow! I can't believe the tone that started off this morning. Are those wondering if there aren't American children to be adopted think that somehow an a non-American child without a family is somehow less deserving than an American child?

As a mother who has adopted a child from China, let me tell you it is so extremely difficult to adopt a child from this country. If you want an infant, it's a contest about who's got more and the birth mother picks. For the foster care system, there are so many hoops to jump through, it's almost impossible. And as Ms. Strong suggests, I knew when my daughter was handed to me and my husband in a small hotel room in China that she was the daughter I was meant to have. A little cosmic, maybe, but I know we were meant to be a family.

So for those who are critical this morning, and have not gone through the adoption process, give some long, hard thought to criticizing the choices of others ... every child is deserving of a family. And please hold the Americans should stick with Americans critique until you have a better understanding of the process.

http://punditmom1.blogspot.com

Posted by: PunditMom | July 25, 2006 8:40 AM

for the critical ones, this is how russian adoption works, an American family hosts the child for a vacation without promising adoption. often the kids are adopted by a different family than the one hosting them. The russian children understand the process. We helped host a young lady several years ago.
Shari, as you can already see, a 14 year old requires more attention than some people realize. If you love her, and you can meet her needs, and it feels right, go for it! You will be giving her a family for life.
There are so many of these kids in this area, and the support system is huge. My high schoolers tell me that kids walk the halls speaking russian, adoptees who have found each other.

Posted by: excperienced mom | July 25, 2006 8:49 AM

The adoption laws in many states her in the US have gotten so that you could have a child for 29.5 days and at 11 pm on the 29th day either parent can take the baby back. Who could live through that? I know several people that would not even consider a domestic adoption and went to China, Russia and Columbia for their babies.

But we are talking about a 14 year old girl. I don't think there is any shortage of older children (maybe 8 and up) that are up for adoption in the US. It is a personal decision I guess.

Posted by: Cmac | July 25, 2006 8:52 AM

"this is how russian adoption works, an American family hosts the child for a vacation without promising adoption. often the kids are adopted by a different family than the one hosting them."

That is terrible. I don't care if the kids understand that that's how it works; what an awful, awful system. Children are not commodities and should not be leased out on a trial basis.

Posted by: Lizzie | July 25, 2006 9:02 AM

There is no place for nit-picking when none of us are perfect.

Posted by: oversight | July 25, 2006 9:07 AM

Remember, the poster has already adopted an infant or young child from Russia. In thinking about adopting a teen, she was also looking for someone who can share her heritage with her young daughter. What an awesome gift that can be to everyone involved - to the teenager, who so desparately wants a home and love; to the young daughter, who will someday have questions about her homeland, and a big sister who can answer a few of those questions; to the parents, who will have the joy (and challenges) of this teenage girl, who sounds wonderful.

As to the question of balance - think about the balance beam in gymnastics. Yes - these athletes can balance on 4" of wood. They can do amazing jumps, leaps, turns, etc. But they can also fall off. The difference between a champion and everyone else, is that the champion gets right back on the beam, and attempts the next trick. No matter how well you think you've balanced your life, you're going to fall off every once in a while. It's ok, as long as you get back on the beam.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 25, 2006 9:08 AM

Shari, please do think of your younger children first. Is this teenage girl a risk to have in your home? I don't mean to paint her in a bad light, I'll bet she's a lovely person, but at age 14, she is heading into the troubled years and might bring havoc into your home and family life. Please don't let guilt push you into making the wrong decision here. Get some counseling to clear your mind and make sure you see the situation clearly. You don't owe this girl a home, even though you DID bring her to this country. Put your family first, and then if it does seem right and is truly what you and your husband and kids want, go for it. The reality is, at 14, she may only live full-time within your family for another 4 or 5 years and then go off to college and begin establishing her own life. What will those 4 or 5 years be like?

I also am thinking of adopting, and I want a child age 5 or older. I think your decision to try adoption is a great one.

Posted by: Melanie | July 25, 2006 9:09 AM

Thanks for the message. The fact is that all adoptions involve some choices and making decisions on what "kind" of kid (age, gender, race, etc) and involve visits and srutiny of records etc for both parents and kids. It smacks of shopping and has always amazed me but we wouldn't want uncommitted parents or unfit parents or misunderstandings to make the child's situation worse.

I am fascinated by this summer visit idea for older kids. It is even more of a trial for the child. Giving any child a chance for a fun, loving summer they wouldn't otherwise have is wonderful but I do wonder what the child thinks of the situation.

Posted by: Not Even Trying to Balance | July 25, 2006 9:17 AM

"The adoption laws in many states her in the US have gotten so that you could have a child for 29.5 days and at 11 pm on the 29th day either parent can take the baby back. Who could live through that? "

This is exactly why my husband and I won't consider adopting from the US. In addition to this issue, many domestic agencies we have review require an open adoption that requires some type of regular contact between the child and birth mother. I'm sure that it works wonderfully in some cases but as the child's parent I certainly want the final say in that arrangement.

Posted by: danielle | July 25, 2006 9:18 AM

OK, the crack-addicted black baby comment was way out of line, and I'm horrified that nobody has taken issue with it thus far. So, let me throw out the first "STFU" of the morning.

Having said that, as I understand it, adoptions is America, of domestic babies, are extremely/prohibitively expensive if done through agencies. Why? Because even if some of them are supposed to be non-profits, they don't act like it. I've heard horror stories from friends about how they keep coming back for check after check even though they haven't really found you a child fitting the description of what you're seeking. They keep relentlessly charging you to keep searching.

So, adopting babies from South America and Europe has been much more common as a way to keep from being exploited by these borderline crooked adoption agencies in our wonderful free-market economy.

Posted by: Random Guy | July 25, 2006 9:18 AM

Random Guy, I think no one took issue with that comment because it clearly didn't deserve attention, which was what the writer was trying to get. It's always best to ignore trolls.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 25, 2006 9:20 AM

Random Guy, I think no one took issue with that comment because it clearly didn't deserve attention, which was what the writer was trying to get. It's always best to ignore trolls.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 25, 2006 9:20 AM

for anyone interested in international adoptions: start with the State Department.

http://travel.state.gov/family/adoption/adoption_485.html

Posted by: Expert Advice | July 25, 2006 9:23 AM

How in the world did reading a very personal story about coming to grips with an intensely personal decision devolve into everyone weighing in with their thoughts on how we should form families???

For those of you who have posted and do not have any personal experience with adoption or the process, I caution you not to make any assumptions about what children are or are not available and how easy or hard the process is.

Did we come into your homes and lecture you about how many bio children you should have, whether you should have any, whether you should undergo fertility treatments, etc.? PLEASE stop the judging and let's talk about the lovely essay. This is a blog about work-life balance, NOT about judging other's decisions about how to form their families.

Many of these comments are exactly why I worry about how my six-year-old will fare when she starts to get more comments at school about, 'where is your real mother? who is your real family, etc.' Our society just loves to judge and criticize others who do not make the same decisions as those who volley the critiques.

http:punditmom1.blogspot.com

Posted by: PunditMom | July 25, 2006 9:27 AM

For all of you wondering whether American babies don't need adopting, have you adopted any?

My family includes one Russian adoptee, two Indian adoptees, and one American adoptee (plus assorted biological children). And I don't know about now, but I wouldn't leave a stray dog in a Russian orphanage in the late 80s-early 90s.

Posted by: Early Adopter | July 25, 2006 9:34 AM

Not sure what PunditMom is advocating. While I am sure you are sensitive about your child's future (as any of us would be) exactly how much would you like us to censure our comments?

Should we limit the discussion to how lovely the writer's prose is and her mastery of language? Okay then, topic over, see you all tomorrow...

Posted by: Anonymous | July 25, 2006 9:38 AM

"exactly how much would you like us to censure our comments?"

Well, I don't care one bit if you censure them, but please try not to CENSOR them.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 25, 2006 9:43 AM

PunditMom - you are being way too sensitive. A lot of people can't distinguish between judging a situation and being judgemental. People are judging this situation with the older Russian girl and adoption in general and posting their opinions - there is nothing wrong with that.

Posted by: CMAC | July 25, 2006 9:58 AM

Bad adoption laws and too many adoption candidates that were aborted instead, that's why folks aren't adopting in the US.

Posted by: Rufus | July 25, 2006 9:59 AM

Argh. Honestly people. Can't we talk about balance? How do you balance older children with younger children? How do you balance parent's needs against children's needs? How do you do balance doing something good for society if it might come at some cost to your own family? Doesn't anyone want to talk about that?

Posted by: VAMom | July 25, 2006 10:01 AM

God Bless you for opening up your heart and your home to others. Ignore the other posters' negative comments. Only you and your husband know in your hearts what is right for your family. Love is not finite. In our family we have found that there is always room for one more.
Take care.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 25, 2006 10:02 AM

Even American adoption of teenagers works in the same way as this Russian adoption. My Aunt and Uncle tried to adopt an American teenager a couple years ago and he came to stay with them for the summer. It didn't work out and I don't know who made the decision, my aunt and uncle or the child. But it was a trial period for both parties.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 25, 2006 10:02 AM

Why does everybody that works for an adoption agency drive around with a Pro-Choice bumper sticker? Is it a requirement for employment?

Posted by: Mo Money, Mo Money, Mo Money | July 25, 2006 10:12 AM

Just a note for all who are considering adoption - domestic or international - do your own research and take what you read here with a grain - or pound - of salt. There are pluses and minuses to adopting domestically and to adopting internationally. And broad categorical statements like people can only adopt domestically by paying far more money or can not possible adopt a healthy child through the domestic process are not only untrue but harmful to the extent they deter people from exploring adoption as an option, or deter people from supporting their friends and family who are considering adoption, based on false information and stereotypes.

As far as domestic adoptions are concerned, it is not the case that domestic adoptions are rare or fraught with far more dangers or expensives than international adoptions. The facts are that far more children are adopted domestically than internationally (I think on the order of three times more). The benefits of domestic adoption are that the child often can be adopted very young - sometimes at birth - and there is the possibility of having real and meaningful information about the birth family, as well as the prospect of continuing contact with the birth family, which your adopted child may very much long for. The big drawback of domestic is that the timing of the process is very unpredictable because it is, as someone else said, birth mother driven, your name isn't just put on a list somewhere and when your number comes up you get a baby. The cost information I have seen varies widely, some domestic adoptions are quite inexpensive (far less than international) others are much more. I believe, however, the average domestic adoption is not significantly more expensive than an international adoption, particularly, once you factor in travel costs.

Anyway, this is all long way of saying that the adoption process is complicated, both internationally and domestically, and cannot be captured and accurately depicted in one line descriptions. It's a complicated, but beautiful way of building a family. I wish the initial poster the best of luck in figuring out what path is best for her and her family.

Posted by: Concerned | July 25, 2006 10:15 AM

It is so nice to hear of the problems and issues of the well-to-do. Adopting from Russia is an excellent alternative when you can afford the tens of thousands of dollars it requires for a single child.

Boo hoo, I don't feel complete so I think I will buy another child. Spare me.

Posted by: T | July 25, 2006 10:18 AM

As Didi said, this also struck me as sad because its almost like a trial run on a child-what if you decide not to adopt her, what will that do to her? I agree that everyone should do what is right for their family, but it seems a little cold to me to conduct an adoption this way, and possibly at the expense of the child if you decide she does not "fit".

Posted by: mdmom | July 25, 2006 10:18 AM

As Didi said, this also struck me as sad because its almost like a trial run on a child-what if you decide not to adopt her, what will that do to her? I agree that everyone should do what is right for their family, but it seems a little cold to me to conduct an adoption this way, and possibly at the expense of the child if you decide she does not "fit".

It is really sad, but really, I don't see a way to fix this. Adopting an older child can be a risky thing, especially if you consider all the emotional issues that may come from such a child. If you have younger children, you need to make sure you are not putting them in harm's way. I would rather see trial runs that result in successful adoptions than the alternative, which could result in a very unhappy situation for the whole family.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 25, 2006 10:22 AM

The offensive comment has been removed due to the fact that it violates washingtonpost.com's comments policy.

Posted by: washingtonpost.com | July 25, 2006 10:32 AM

That does sound pretty challenging.

I wonder about adopting a child who is so much older than the others. It seems un-natural. If you adopt a child younger than the ones you have then you have a frame of experience to fit them into. By skipping several steps ahead in age you're moving yourself into an area where you aren't experienced.

I have friends with adopted Russian children, and they need a lot of help. That's a strain on even a well-to-do family.

If you already have an adopted Russian child are you really doing the right thing for your family in taking on another child who will have many needs, and is in an age category you haven't lived through yet.

I think you have an obligation to be the best parent possible, so I question whether this is the best use of your parenting skills as they exist today.

I don't have a problem with the trial run policy, because a teen is old enough to have an opinion themselves, but I wonder about the age differences.

Posted by: RoseG | July 25, 2006 10:34 AM

Thank you for your candid message.

My family adopted our second child from Russia 18 months ago. Our son was just shy of 9 when he came back for good after spending 3 weeks with us in a similar summer host program.

Our 18 months have witnessed tremendous hardship and transitioning as our other established child had been on only child for 12 years. Additionally, our new son came with - and still has - a lot of emotional baggage. He is being treated for PTSD and RAD among other things but he is the bravest person I have ever encountered. I love him - as I do my other son - with everything in me and I urge you to embrace this young woman if you can. My son is a joy and he is working through his demons and loves his family fully. If it is not possible for you to do this, I urge you to let your program sponsor know right away such that the young woman has a chance with another family before she must return to Russia. Good luck.

Posted by: portsmouthnhmom | July 25, 2006 10:38 AM

Think of the trail run policy like dating after you meet on line. Even if the interests etc. look good you would want to get to know someone better. An older child's values, attitudes, beliefs etc are much more set to push either side into to soon would in the long run be worse than after a trail run not working out.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 25, 2006 10:45 AM

I loved the last statement in today's post, "When it comes to work, children and family, does balance exist?" I think we all have a different version of "balance." It's not up to others to judge or validate your choices when it comes to work, children and family. I think that if you feel your work, children and family balance is way out of whack, you need to make a change to even out the balance. Otherwise, what works for you may not work for someone else and vice versa. I like reading this blog for insights on how to better achieve my balance. But, please keep in mind that you're not going to change the way someone balances their life by disagreeing with how they do it in this forum.

Posted by: anotherarlmom | July 25, 2006 10:45 AM

"Think of the trail run policy like dating after you meet on line. Even if the interests etc. look good you would want to get to know someone better. An older child's values, attitudes, beliefs etc are much more set to push either side into to soon would in the long run be worse than after a trail run not working out."

A dating relationship is so categorically different from a parent's relationship to a child that you cannot possibly equate the two. A parent's job is to love and provide for their child regardless of what beliefs the child may hold. If two ex-hippy Democrats have a child who turns out to be a William Safire Republican, does that mean that they can ditch her once she hits adolescence and her political views coalesce?

Either make the commitment to parenting an adoptive child or don't. The child's values have absolutely nothing to do with it. If you really don't think you could handle parenting a child with a radically different worldview, then don't adopt a teenager. It's really not that hard.

Posted by: Lizzie | July 25, 2006 10:50 AM

What kind of household duties would a new 14 year-old assume in a household with younger children?

Although in years past it would not be unusual to take on a teenaged child to help with younger children, that tends to be seen as exploitive in these times.

It seems like it could cause conflict once the child settles in.

Posted by: RoseG | July 25, 2006 10:57 AM

My 5 year old daughter would love having an older child around. When my husband and I ask her if she would like a brother or sister her comment is "I want an older sister". Don't know where she got this but it has been a request now for several months.

Being an adoptee myself, I have always felt the need to do so myself but I have concerns mixing birth children and adopted children especially when it comes to maybe adopting an older than toddler which is what I would probably do. Being a 30'ish adult adopted as a toddler and always knowing I was adopted I still have issues with knowing I am not biologically related and with my parents passed away I feel even more distant from the family. Other concerns is that I don't think we would be allowed based on our income and credit status due to loss of jobs last year even though now we are doing better. It's funny I can have a biological child and it makes no difference what my credit score is.

Posted by: Dlyn | July 25, 2006 11:10 AM

Dllyn said "It's funny I can have a biological child and it makes no difference what my credit score is."
Isn't that the truth. You can be living close to poverty and have ten kids in this country and as long as your not on welfare, no one seems to critize you (except for the zero population people). But as you can see, a whole lot of criticism is dished out if you can actually afford to offer an adopted child all the advantages in life as well as love and nurture them.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 25, 2006 11:23 AM

Okay, I'm taking the bait on this one. Feel free to skip to my next post if you want to avoid a rant.

So many adoption employees are pro-choice because they see the unwanted children who are products of stupid mistakes. They see their emotional turmoil and doubts of self-worth. And while there are many stories of families adopting children all over the world, there are literally millions of unwanted children--who are actually living and breathing and knowing that no one wants them--who are starving and selling themselves to survive. No child deserves to be forced into the world to live a life of suffering.

Posted by: Meesh | July 25, 2006 11:30 AM

Hmmm. Is it really critical to ask about the availability of American children for adoption? What tone were you discerning from the inquiring posts? Or were you just taking offense (and being on the defense)? ? asked a question, and some have answered in the right frame of mind -- educating the questioner. The poster may have been sarcastic or critical, maybe not.

Are American children more deserving of adoption than Russian or Chinese children? No. But are they less deserving? No.

To the poster who said not everyone wants a white baby ... are you aware of how your comment sounds? So the only alternatives to white are foreign-born babies? Again, hmmm. Not every baby that can be adopted in this country is white. Russian babies are (mostly) white.

I did not know it was so difficult to adopt an American born baby.

Posted by: momoftwo | July 25, 2006 11:32 AM

Achieving the work/life balance is all about sacrifice, and different people want or are able to sacrifice different things. No one option is better than another.

In the pursuit of raising good kids and working and keeping your sanity, people give up vacations, job promotions, extra cars, nights out, time with their kids, and even the prospect of haivng another kid (as in the case of our guest writer). You have to try different sacrifices and keep the things you can't live without (staying at home for some, working for others). Because no one way is better than another, no one can tell you how to do it.

Posted by: Meesh | July 25, 2006 11:37 AM

To mother of two: I wasn't implying that all US children up for adoption are white or that all forgein babies are not white. It was a response to a post that was removed. Clearly adopting from a country like Viet Nam or China means you will NOT be adopting a white child. My point was that for some people race does not matter in adoption. I was not all implying that white or non white is any better. I am sorry if I offended anyone.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 25, 2006 11:44 AM

I was intrigued by how the article began...that it seems that someone is missing from the party, and IF a child is what is missing then you'll know where to find that child. I would feel more comfortable for you if you were certain that it IS a child that is missing. I am the type of person that likes a fairly high level of change. I have married, purchased businesses and gathered up my children and moved to another state because I was ready for a change. After a nasty divorce and a failed business, I've decided to stop trying to blast through every rock that stands in the way and flow with the current for a while. Not only do I feel more centered, but I find that those unexpected changes are more than enough to keep me interested and exercising my creativity. My best wishes to you and your family whatever you decide to do.

Posted by: Rebecca | July 25, 2006 11:49 AM

I am curious about how adopting from Russia works. Is this common? Is this how it works for all adopted children from Russia, or just the older ones? Is it similar to fostering adoption-eligible children here? Does the teen have a choice to reject the family? Even if so, how free is that choice, given the circumstances from which this person is coming?

Posted by: Anonymous | July 25, 2006 11:53 AM

One more thing, some practical advice for the guest writer. I'm no expert, but I did work with teens a while back.

I think you should consider why you wanted to adopt a teen in the first place. (I doubt that it was as inspired as "we need a new family member, and my cheerios told me to adopt a teen). What are your expectations of her? While she certainly has needs of her own, not all of them detract from your own. For example, she (like most teens) crave responsibility. That works to your advantage because she can take over some thing that you control (like dinner or cleaning or taking the other kids to the park). Also, she can fill some needs that you don't recognize yet. She can be someone you get pedicures with, or go to the mall with. I don't pretent to know what she likes, but I wanted to mention the things that you might be overlooking in your confusion.

If Olga does really want to be in your family, she will try hard to make you happy. Treat her like an adult and talk to her about your expectations, her expectations, what she needs to be happy, and what you need to be happy (maybe you need to figure out what you need to be happy first!). I hope that helps.

Posted by: Meesh | July 25, 2006 11:54 AM

The foster care system in this country as it exists today is a disgrace and could be compared to what the Nazis did to children in the 1930's. The outcome for these children is a guaranteed road to failure as is everything else our government does. Before we run around the world saving everyone's children we should first take care of our own, there are ten's of thousands of them out there.

Posted by: mcewen | July 25, 2006 11:56 AM

"When it comes to work, children and family, does balance exist?"

VAMom called this out and she's so right --children "unbalance" you, your work, your sense of self, all your relationships. Is "balance" is an over-rated goal for parents? If so, why do we hear so much about "balancing" work and family -- when maybe advice about coming to peace with being unbalanced would be more useful?

Posted by: Leslie | July 25, 2006 11:56 AM

To the poster who lised the state department link, and the others with experience in adoption, please continue to post this information. My family is plannng to adopt in the future and we would like to learn more.

Thanks to those with constructive posts...

Posted by: Want to k now more | July 25, 2006 11:58 AM

What an amazingly difficult situation. I hope Shari (and husband) find the best answer for their family.

The idea of adopting a teen came up in my family in the not too distant past and I just couldn't see it happening for a number of reasons. We currently have two (soon to be three) children, 4 and 19 months. The teen in question is 15 years old. We've known her for about 3 years and she loved playing with the kids. She is great in a lot of ways but, as often happens, she has a lot of emotional baggage and problems. We have a lot of difficulty balancing children and work as it is. We're already exhausted (especially me) so I didn't know how we could realistically add another whole facet to family life. I don't think in our circumstances we could give the teen the attention she would need or deserve. I think it wouldn't be so hard if she were closer in age to my kids.

In Shari's situation, I wonder just how much harder the language issue would make things. Olga would be coming into a new country, not speaking the language, into a family with several young children who require a lot of attention. Would the parents be able to give Olga the attention and time she needed focused on her? Hard to say. Good luck to them all.

Posted by: Rockville Mom | July 25, 2006 12:02 PM

I did forget to post on topic. To the author, I think you're brave. I couldn't do a try-out, because I'd be too guilty and soft-hearted and want the teen-ager. I would be too concerned about her being rejected. Don't take that as criticism, just that everyone is different, and I'm sure you'll make the best choice for you. I hope Olga knows she has some say in the matter, too.

I have not adopted, but I had an uncle and aunt, and a cousin who did. Three kids total. All American. One open adoption. All adoptions done without any reported hardships or grueling processes.

Posted by: momoftwo | July 25, 2006 12:05 PM

Hi Leslie,

Right, that's why this blog (most days) is so interesting to me. Finding balance as a parent starts with accepting limits. Limits stink, and are unavoidable.

So, you have to make hard tradeoffs, and find what works for you (which will also change over time as you and your family change). I learn a lot by hearing about how and why other people make their choices. It informs my decisions. And, just because a choice is right for me and my family, does not mean it is right for everyone else.

I think why this blog degenerates so often is because these choices are so intensely personal. It's hard for us to imagine anyone else taking the same set of conditions and reaching a different conclusion from our own.

That happens on any set of issues people care about, however. It's hard work to maintain good conversation in the middle. Please keep trying!

Posted by: VAMom | July 25, 2006 12:07 PM

Though the situation may not be the most idealic for raising a teen and dealing with her how did the posters put it? "emotional baggage" isn't living with a loving family in the U.S. a whole world better for the teen than being in an orphanage with little chance to recieve the love, support, and access to eduction that she needs to change her economic and social standing?

Posted by: Anonymous | July 25, 2006 12:14 PM

Yes, it might be better for the teenager to live with an American family, but you also must consider whether having her in the family is fair to the younger children who already are a part of that family.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 25, 2006 12:32 PM

Maybe we need to rename this blog "Unbalanced."

Posted by: Leslie | July 25, 2006 12:47 PM

There are several adopted people in my extended family and I think it's a wonderful thing. But Shari's first obligation is to her existing children. Sometimes to add another child to the family, whether that is by adoption or birth, is a disservice to the other kids.

Posted by: Suzy | July 25, 2006 12:58 PM

I have two adopted kids from the former USSR, adopted at 7 & 9, who are wonderful, but need so much therapy to cope and deal with their past. I also worry about the HUGE age difference. She sounds like she may end up being the au pair instead of the daughter. Even with tons of other internationals around, adjusting to a family, little kids, rules, parents, a new language, etc is HUGE. God bless you if you take it on, but once it's permanent your life will take on many new challenges.....

Posted by: Hopewell | July 25, 2006 12:58 PM

Definition #6 from dictionary.com: Balance: A harmonious or satisfying arrangement or proportion of parts or elements, as in a design.

This particular definition doesn't demand equality of each piece of the whole, just that the proportion creates harmony and satisfaction. I like it.

I am happy to report that I have access to my wife/child/career in a proportion that creates harmony and satisfaction amongst those things.

I do not, however, have enough access to my poker/golf buddies, or my own "alone time" enough to create any satisfaction in that arena. On the other hand, that stuff is less important, so there you go....

Relating back to the topic, it seems to me that the day you adopt a child, their issues become just as important as those of your biological children. And it sounds reasonable to me that you will want to understand what those "issues" are, such that you know what you are getting into. I think that to evaluate taking the child on based ONLY on what is best for the potential adoptee seems naive...

Posted by: Proud Papa | July 25, 2006 12:58 PM

I am 11 years older than my brother and sister. It is hard for parents to cope with both teenagers and young children, and my parents certainly struggled. I felt superfluous and pushed out of the family(3-bedroom house so my brother & sister shared until I moved out, lack of parent money to buy clothes and other stuff all around) and so got married 3 weeks after graduating high school when I was just 17. I also helped take care of the younger children a huge amount. A huge gap between children is a tough situation to balance.

Posted by: SilverSpring | July 25, 2006 1:12 PM

in regard to the issue of bringing kids from russia with false expectations of adoption, this is handled with more sensitivity than many of today's posters seem to exhibit. The kids are screened at the orphanage to be sure they can handle the travel, and meeting new people. They are told they are invited to go on a vacation to the united states, to have some fun. They are told they will meet some people that might want to adopt them, but they will probably not be adopted. And they do have fun, the zoo, theme parks, etc, much more fun than sitting in an orphanage all summer. The organization I was involved with was a Christian nonprofit group. Adults from the orphanage travel here with the kids, and are available via phone 24/7, for translation, which we used a few times, to explain where we were taking her in the car. We spoke no Russian, she spoke no English, and we communicated via hand signals and expressions. In two weeks, she seemed to pick up alot of English. And when she chattered in Russian, we often knew what she meant, via expression and tone of voice.
So don't knock it until you try it!

Posted by: experienced mom | July 25, 2006 1:20 PM

"They are told they will meet some people that might want to adopt them, but they will probably not be adopted."

See, though, it doesn't matter what they're told. It doesn't matter if each and every Russian teenager who undergoes this leasing period is completely and totally fine with it, never develops any false hopes, never has any overinflated expectations. The intentions and reactions of the various players are completely meaningless, because it's the idea itself that's wrong. Children are not commodities. You don't lease them out to see if they're a good fit. You just don't, regardless of screening processes. There are some things that are just intrinsically wrong, and this is one of them.

Posted by: Lizzie | July 25, 2006 1:24 PM

'I am 11 years older than my brother and sister. It is hard for parents to cope with both teenagers and young children, and my parents certainly struggled. I felt superfluous and pushed out of the family(3-bedroom house so my brother & sister shared until I moved out, lack of parent money to buy clothes and other stuff all around) and so got married 3 weeks after graduating high school when I was just 17. I also helped take care of the younger children a huge amount. A huge gap between children is a tough situation to balance.'

thanks for your post. I think you had more issues than the age difference. You are a survivor, congratulations.

There are many families for whom a 10+ year age difference between siblings is not an issue at all. Siblings can enhance each others lives.

Posted by: experienced mom | July 25, 2006 1:27 PM

Lizzie, I understand your concern, but what is a good alternative? To keep the kids wharehoused in an orpahange, with no hope at all? This seems to be the only way to hook up potential adoptees with adopters. Yes, it's unfortunate the that kids are in this position but there aren'tany good options.

Posted by: Adopter | July 25, 2006 1:32 PM

"There are some things that are just intrinsically wrong, and this is one of them."

Lizzie, I'm curious. How would you prefer to structure the adoption process for children coming from other countries?

(The "vacation" time isn't how it worked in my situation, but that adoption was completed more than a decade ago and the process seems to have changed.)

Posted by: Early Adopter | July 25, 2006 1:35 PM

Lizzie,
I see what you mean. These are issues that the people involved in arranging Russian adoptions struggle with. They feel that they are helping the children who are ultimately adopted, and enriching the lives of the other orphans, both through travel, and the donations that flow to the orphanages from this country.
Someone told me that russian orphans are kicked out of the orphanage by age 16. they either join the army or become prostitutes. not sure if I believe that, but it sounds rather grim.

Posted by: experienced mom | July 25, 2006 1:36 PM

"what is a good alternative?"

To have the adoptive process for older children be exactly the same as it is for younger children. To my knowledge, if you want to adopt a 3-year-old from Russia, you don't get a "trial period" where the child flies to the US and is shopped around to a bunch of prospective families.

I can't see how the idea of shopping a 14-year-old around could be construed as anything other than damaging and wrong, particularly in a case where a family has already adopted a younger child from the same country. What are you going to tell that child? "Yeah, we thought about adopting Olga, but she didn't really fit in, so we sent her back. Oh, don't worry, we'd never do that to *you*."

Yes, adoption of older children will always entail issues that the adoption of younger children does not. The way to deal with that, though, is to do some serious soul-searching and to ask yourself if you would be willing to support an adopted child's possible issues the same way you'd support a birth child's. If the answer is no, then don't waste your time shopping around for a 14-year-old Russian who has no major issues.

I mean, look at Strong's own words:

"She melts into me for hugs, walks with her arm locked in mine and wants desperately to be adopted but begs our interpreter not to tell us. I want our family to be a fit for this remarkable child and agonize because it doesn't feel that way yet."

Does anyone honestly think that this poor girl's hopes are not already up? Can anyone honestly say that Strong's evaluation of this poor girl reduces her to a sum which may or may not work with her family?

I'm mouthy and opinionated and have not hesitated to shoot my mouth off on this blog, but today's entry takes my breath away with its complete and total lack of awareness regarding the cruelty which is being perpetuated on this poor kid.

Posted by: Lizzie | July 25, 2006 1:43 PM

"Someone told me that russian orphans are kicked out of the orphanage by age 16. they either join the army or become prostitutes. not sure if I believe that, but it sounds rather grim."

It wouldn't surprise me. It's certainly no worse than what awaits lots of Russian kids whose parents keep them. Prostitution is bad; the Russian Army might actually be worse.

Look, I understand the impetus to take children from a society as wrecked as Russia's and find them homes and new lives in a place where they have significantly greater opportunity. I applaud it, even. I just can't bring myself to condone a shopping period for older kids.

Posted by: Lizzie | July 25, 2006 1:47 PM

Lizzie is very convincing. we don't get to pick the personalities of the children born to us, we just try to make it work.

Another balance issue is, I don't know any moms who have 4 children and a career. Three children seems to be the tipping point toward sending moms into stay-at-homehood.

Posted by: experienced mom | July 25, 2006 1:48 PM

Lizzie, this process is no more leasing a kid than adoption in general is buying a kid you didn't have.

Unlike some of the horror stories you hear about foster homes (I'm sure plenty of them are wonderful, but there are horror stories) one would have to assume that adoptive parents go into the situation hoping and praying for the best possible outcome.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 25, 2006 1:49 PM

"one would have to assume that adoptive parents go into the situation hoping and praying for the best possible outcome."

One would indeed. Strong, however, at least intimates that she might send Olga back.

Posted by: Lizzie | July 25, 2006 1:52 PM

OK, what I don't seem to understand about Russian politics is that Russia has a whole bunch of orphans. These orphans get sent abroad to be adopted or left in Russia to have a miserable childhood and even dimmer future. On the other hand, Russia has the lowest birth rates of any industrialized nations. Putin is considering paying people to have a second child. Isn't it wiser to use those resources to create situations in which families would not need to disgard some of their children in orphanages to begin with. Or even better give incentives for Russians to adopt some of these precious children. It sounds to me that they don't really have a population problem as much as a family unit problem.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 25, 2006 2:04 PM

Lizzie, I see your point, but it closes some doors needlessly. Adopting a teenager is a lot different from adopting an infant or a toddler and the issues can be immense. If you have younger children, you must consider them also. Your alternative is that people who feel doubts should opt not to attempt to adopt another child. But what if it works, and after a trial period, the family finds that the teenager is a good fit. Going your route wouldn't even give the child a chance. I say the system is not perfect, but it is better to try and fail than never to try at all.

Posted by: Rockville | July 25, 2006 2:09 PM

I'm single with no children of my own, but I have several friends - including the author of this blog - who have adopted, both here in the U.S. and internationally (Russia, China, Uganda). Adoption in general introduces a whole host of uncomfortable, unnatural situations from choosing and "paying" for a child to having the option to select the sex, age, etc. of your new family member. Adoptive parents didn't create these issues and shouldn't be held accountable for them. despite it's seeming flaws, I still believe wholeheartedly that adoption is a positive thing - especially considering the alternative. As for the age thing, many biological families have kids with huge age gaps (I was the youngest of four for nine years, until my little brother came along), and everyone somehow just manages to adjust. If Olga were a biological daughter, there would be no discussion of if or where she fit and how the family would manage the age gap. But because of the situation, Shari and her husband are put in the awkward, almost impossible position of having to determine what's best for all four kids involved as well as themselves. I have no idea how I would make that decision if I were in their shoes, and I admire them for being willing to take it on. Adoption is an expensive, emotionally draining process and I'm in awe of each of my friends who have persevered in order to provide a child - any child - with a loving home.

Posted by: wendylee | July 25, 2006 2:19 PM

As most readers probably have already guessed, international orphan hosting is more complex than can possibly be explained in a 300 word blog post - particularly one that focuses on one person's struggle, and not on the process itself.

For those who are considering adoption or orphan hosting, I'll explain just a tiny bit further. Hosting programs are legally simply that: hosting programs. They are not adoption agencies, and adoptions cannot be guaranteed - either to the hosting family or to the child. In our particular program, none of the families are even allowed to discuss adoption with the children, as no one wants to get the children's hopes up until an adoption actually occurs and is finalized. The children's feelings are protected as much as possible, while at the same time exposing them to families who may choose to pursue adoption as a result of having met the child. It may not be the ideal scenario - but is arguably better than the alternative of doing nothing for them.

We chose to try hosting because, at the very least, we could provide the child with a fun vacation in the U.S., help her learn some English, and send her back to her orphanage having seen a bit of the world. (All the children "go back," regardless of whether the families plan to pursue adoption after the hosting session is over.) We also knew that we might, as a result of hosting, choose to pursue adoption. But (as stepfamilies know), blending a number of already established personalities is hard. That is what this blog post is about: the tension between caring for one's family and for others. And about balancing one's desire to make a difference in the world with the reality of one's very real human limitations.

Posted by: Shari MacDonald Strong | July 25, 2006 2:22 PM

"Lizzie, I see your point, but it closes some doors needlessly. Adopting a teenager is a lot different from adopting an infant or a toddler and the issues can be immense. If you have younger children, you must consider them also. Your alternative is that people who feel doubts should opt not to attempt to adopt another child. But what if it works, and after a trial period, the family finds that the teenager is a good fit. Going your route wouldn't even give the child a chance. I say the system is not perfect, but it is better to try and fail than never to try at all."

Well said, Rockville. I agree 100%.

Posted by: MBA Mom | July 25, 2006 2:27 PM

I too am shocked at how cavalier the entire process seems for adopting an older child from Russia, at least as described in the post...if anything, I would think that a 'trial period' would be less damaging to a 3 yr old who might not remember a lot of it - being 14 already means being full of incredible levels of emotions like fear and pain and adding the rejection of a lovely family that 'just didn't want you' seems cruel beyond belief!

Posted by: agree with Lizzie, my god! | July 25, 2006 2:31 PM

To be honest, Russia is not the only country that has similar programs. In the US there are adoption picnics and outings for potential adoptive parents and children. So we do it too. Not that makes it right. But it seems we are picking on Russia, when we seem to do it too. Regardless of what the child is told ahead of time, clearly they have the desire and dream that their host family will adopt them. I am surprised there is not a better way to do things. Although, I have to say, I haven't thought of another decent way to go about doing it. Ms Strong, you are very eloquent. I can tell you are writer. I wish you the best of luck in your decision and send all my love and prayers with Olga.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 25, 2006 2:36 PM

To be honest, Russia is not the only country that has similar programs. In the US there are adoption picnics and outings for potential adoptive parents and children. So we do it too. Not that makes it right. But it seems we are picking on Russia, when we seem to do it too. Regardless of what the child is told ahead of time, clearly they have the desire and dream that their host family will adopt them. I am surprised there is not a better way to do things. Although, I have to say, I haven't thought of another decent way to go about doing it. Ms Strong, you are very eloquent. I can tell you are writer. I wish you the best of luck in your decision and send all my love and prayers with Olga.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 25, 2006 2:36 PM

ok Ms. Strong, since Olga likes you, I think you should adopt her. If it doesn't work out, at least you tried. If you adopt Olga, you and she will either have five years of problems, or a lifetime of happiness. She sounds like a wonderful girl, and the people who know her best at the orphanage think highly of her or she wouldn't be here. So go for it!!

Posted by: experienced mom | July 25, 2006 2:41 PM

I'm curious to find out more about why this mother chose to adopt a teen when she has younger children in this house. This is a foreign concept to me. Trying to understand but not quite getting it...

Posted by: just curious | July 25, 2006 2:44 PM

Just curious, I'd read that allowing a period of eight years between children's ages helps to avoid problems related to disrupted birth order. (In other words, my six-year-old would remain "the oldest" in some important ways.) I also hoped that if the difference in ages was great enough, this would decrease the likelihood of jealousy and competition.

Posted by: Shari MacDonald Strong | July 25, 2006 2:51 PM

I definitely agree, from personal experience, that there is virtually no jealousy and very little competition (except for financial resources) if the siblings are that far apart in age.

Posted by: SilverSpring | July 25, 2006 2:55 PM

in big families with big age differences between their children, I don't see much jealousy and competition. I see lots of love, sharing and support.

Posted by: experienced mom | July 25, 2006 2:56 PM

I am reminded of Anne of Green Gables and Anne's trial period with the Cuthberts. I know this is fiction, but trial periods for older children who want to be adopted are a fact of life.

Posted by: Rockville | July 25, 2006 2:57 PM

To "T" who wrote: "It is so nice to hear of the problems and issues of the well-to-do. Adopting from Russia is an excellent alternative when you can afford the tens of thousands of dollars it requires for a single child.

Boo hoo, I don't feel complete so I think I will buy another child. Spare me."

Geez. Spare ME. Ok, I'm wealthy. My fiance and I have no children and I don't want a bio child. We are thinking of adopting, perhaps from his country (not the U.S.). Why? Not because we don't feel complete, but because we have so much to share!

With your attitude, please don't have ANY children.

Posted by: KL | July 25, 2006 3:01 PM

Anne of Green Gables was written nearly a century ago. It seems that we still have not found a better solution to the adoption process of older children in a 100 years. Guess we won't solve it today either.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 25, 2006 3:03 PM

"I would think that a 'trial period' would be less damaging to a 3 yr old who might not remember a lot of it"

Not necessarily. One of the common perils of adopted kids--even those adopted pretty young--is attachment disorder, where they have trouble building relationships with other people. A 3yo is going to experience that rejection just as much as an older child. It's not the end of the world by any means, but does take a lot of focus and energy to overcome.

http://www.attachmentdisorder.net/

Posted by: Early Adopter | July 25, 2006 3:03 PM

I completely agree with Lizzie on every point. The woman's casual cruelty is disgusting.

And yes, adoption is a form of "shopping", which is why I'm not a big fan of the practice. At no point should adoption be considered anything but second best to the real thing.

People who adopt do so either because it's their second choice (they couldn't have their own kids) or because they are making some sort of ideological statement. Neither are attractive reasons.

As to why people don't adopt children from this country, I think the hassle is one reason. I also think that older kids in this country are a known quantity--they will have lots of problems. Children in other countries have a higher chance of being "normal". That's why people adopt Chinese babies--the moms are much more likely to be of average intelligence than those in the system in the US, and their kids therefore less likely to have difficulties.

We certainly should not give any tax credits or benefits to people who adopt from other countries. It creates lousy economic incentives for the parents and worse, the other countries.

I often point out that adoptive parents aren't in any way like birth parents precisely because they can, and do, shop. Birth parents, for better and for worse, take what they get. Both birth and adoptive parents can be good and bad, abusive or supportive. But adoptive parents can and do look for the kid they want, and always know deep inside that they can give the kid back. This article is merely an extreme example of the mindset.

Posted by: Cal | July 25, 2006 3:11 PM

All orphaned or parentless children want to be adopted, want to belong to a family. These procedures such as hosting seem wrong to us in many ways, but at least the children have some hope of their dream coming true.

Posted by: Connie | July 25, 2006 3:15 PM

Regardless of what you may think, some adoptive parents, if not the majority of adoptive parents, love their adopted children with all their heart and minds. And it is not considered second best in their minds. If that was true, why would Ms Strong have biological and an adoptive child. Your thoughts on adoption are truly revolting and all I can say is thank god your an adoptive parent. I wonder if you could even be a good parent with those kinds of views.

Posted by: To Cal | July 25, 2006 3:17 PM

Hey Meesh,
when you use terms like "unwanted children who are products of stupid mistakes", you're not going to make very many friends, especially from those of us who have been adopted or are now considering adoption.

That's just poor taste.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 25, 2006 3:21 PM

"At no point should adoption be considered anything but second best to the real thing.

People who adopt do so either because it's their second choice (they couldn't have their own kids) or because they are making some sort of ideological statement. Neither are attractive reasons."

WHAT?!

See my post above. I am not making any "ideological statement" and it's not my "second choice" to adopt. I have never wanted to have a bio child, and always felt I would adopt a child. That's been my feeling since I was a little girl.

I don't particularly see giving birth as better than adoption. Why? There are thousands (milliions) of unwanted children who need homes and families. And there are families who will take them in and love them.

I have never thought that if I adopted a child and wasn't happy I could "give it back" and I don't think any adoptive parents think that. That's ridiculous. A child isn't a puppy!

I can't believe you call a woman who has taken one unwanted child (and is considering a second) "cruel". Life isn't fair! Yes, it seems harsh that Olga may not be a good fit for this family and may get her hopes up and then have to return to Russia. But she knows what it's about, and actually, young people are far stronger than we imagine. At least she is getting a chance.

People like you would prefer all orphaned children to rot in orphanages, I guess? How is that not cruel?

Posted by: KL | July 25, 2006 3:22 PM

Just because a family wants to make sure they are adding a child who can get along with the other family members, doesn't mean that they're "shopping." There are adoptive families and stepfamilies who have found that their new families just didn't work, no matter how hard they tried. Labeling adoptive parents as selfish just shows that the poster doesn't know what they're talking about. I'm wondering just what the naysayers on this board have, themselves, done to help the orphans of this world.

Posted by: Jeannie | July 25, 2006 3:23 PM

I don't know the exact dynamic behind big age gaps resulting in 'virtual only children', but I think the concept is that the older child receives undivided attention and when the younger child comes along many years later the older child is so beyond that set of needs that the younger child receives undivided attention.

I don't think that would hold with an adopted teen because they never had the original period of undivided attention from the parent.

Posted by: RoseG | July 25, 2006 3:29 PM

"And it is not considered second best in their minds."

It certainly is for parents who only adopt after not being able to have their own. As for the others, I said it was for ideological reasons.

Of course adoption is second best. Ideally, we'd never have adoption. Every child would be wanted and cared for adequately by their own parents. Adoption is a solution to a problem, not an end unto itself.

Obviously, there are many cases in which any well-off, entitled parent "shopping" for a kid is still a million steps up from the inadequate incompetent that many children are stuck with. That doesn't make the shopping mentality any less repugnant.

Posted by: Cal | July 25, 2006 3:29 PM

Cal is a jerk, ignore him or her.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 25, 2006 3:31 PM

About 10 years ago I realized that several of my friends were adopted as infants. Six, in fact. All were about the same age. It hit me that they had all been born shortly before The Pill. I have never asked them (none of them know anything about their origins and three have said they don't want to know) but I wonder if they were children born to those women who went off to those "homes for unwed mothers" and then came away without their child. All of my friends have good relationships with their parents and their parents obviously love them dearly. My closest friend completely considers herself a member of that biological family, but sometimes she says, when frustrated with her mother, "Thank god I'm not related to her!" :-)

Posted by: Jem | July 25, 2006 3:32 PM

"I have never wanted to have a bio child, and always felt I would adopt a child."

Perhaps you should get a clearer understanding of the term "ideological statement", since you contradict your denial right here. Anyone who wants to be a parent and chooses not to have a biological child is making an ideological statement.

"Just because a family wants to make sure they are adding a child who can get along with the other family members, doesn't mean that they're "shopping." "

Yes, it does. Biological parents can make no such choices. Adoptive parents "shop" for their choice.

"I want a girl!" "I want an older child." "I want a Chinese baby." "I want someone who doesn't have severe health problems."

Consumer choices, one and all.


Posted by: Cal | July 25, 2006 3:34 PM

Adoption is a solution to a problem, not an end unto itself.

I hate to agree with this, but I do. Adoption should not be an end in itself. The purpose of adoption should be to provide homes for children who need them. It should not be to provide infertile couples with children. That said, there are plenty of kids who need homes and plenty of couples who have a lot to share. So why not give these children a chance to have loving families and these couples a chance to share their lives with children. What's so wrong with that? Cal, you may be right on a few points, but your manner and perspective seems cold, and frankly unhappy. Which is sadder for you than for anyone else, because after all, you are the one who has to live with yourself, not the folks on this blog.

Posted by: Rockville | July 25, 2006 3:38 PM

I like the posters who basically say that balance isn't never really balance, it's just dealing with life. That seems true. We can all have goals and hopes and plans, but most things happen in ways we don't expect. I too have found that "going with the flow" rather than trying to damn the river is far more satisfying and less apt to make me crazy.

Shari, I think in some ways you want someone to tell you it's ok not to adopt Olga. You are exhausted, you're uncertain if she's the one. Guilt seems to be driving you. Please step back and take a breath. How long has Olga been with you? Were your expectations realistic to begin with?

"I expected that we'd know immediately if our host child is our future daughter. It feels more complicated than that."

It IS more complicated than that. Give yourself permission to not make this decision TODAY. Or even tomorrow. You and your family may need to let her go back so you can have life without her again and then decide.

Posted by: South of DC | July 25, 2006 3:41 PM

Yes, it does. Biological parents can make no such choices. Adoptive parents "shop" for their choice.

Biological parents do make such choices. People can now select the sex of their children, for example. Amniocentesis tests for birth defects, and a goodly number of parents opt to terminate a pregnancy if birth defects are found.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 25, 2006 3:41 PM

Oops, I meant "is never".

Posted by: South of DC | July 25, 2006 3:42 PM

Where does deliberately adopting a child with serious physical handicaps in order to help them fit into the "shopping" model? Or would you prefer that they be left to rot in an orphanage until they're old enough to leave and deal with their handicaps in a society that can't help them in any way?

Posted by: Anonymous | July 25, 2006 3:51 PM

Really, you all shouldn't project. I'm neither cold nor unhappy. Well, except that I don't like scrubbing walls with TSP and am feeling overwhelmed by the 999,999,999,999 shades of white I have to choose from. And my own forum is down because the log file is full. But that's not so much unhappy as avoidant--hence, I argue on this blog.

" What's so wrong with that? "

You don't think it's a little wrong that we've turned adoption into an industry? You agree that adoption is a solution, not an end. But clearly, when you've got people like whoever it was saying "I want to adopt, not have biological children", or the writer of this article wanting an older child to "fit in" with her existing adoptees, and of course, the zillions of infertile couples wanting their own kids, we've gone well beyond finding homes for children who don't have them.

We're importing an enormous number of children from other countries and almost certainly creating incentive effects. You notice these countries are never African, yes? No, people want cute little Chinese babies, or maybe a big, doe-eyed Guatemalan orphan. Rumanians (nice, reliable, white babies) were all the rage for a while, until it turned out that they'd been in orphan mills and had RAD in huge numbers.

You don't think there's anything just a little wrong with that? At the same time, parents who want to adopt American babies almost always have to go through unimaginable hoops, be a certain age, have a certain home, and so on--unless they want to adopt older kids whose parents were so horrible that their rights were terminated, and then you can be anyone: gay, single, priest, or all three. Foster parents are notoriously incentive driven--once you get past the suburban martyrs, the rest of them aren't much better than the incompetents who had the kids in the first place.

I don't know what the answer is. But for starters, I think we should abandon the pretense that adopted parents are the same as birth parents. They aren't, for two fundamental reasons: they can shop for their options, and they can (and do, in alarming numbers) give the kid back.

Second, I think we should discourage all the "choice" discussion by showing immediate and vehement disapproval. An adult who doesn't want any kid offered to him is clearly not the same as a "real" parent, and shouldn't be treated as such.

We should also rethink our encouragement of the practice. For all its flaws, adoption is often best solution in many instances. But these parents should be solutions to American children's needs, not some other country's. We shouldn't be subsidizing these shopping expeditions to China, Russia, or Guatemala. Instead, we should be giving far more incentives to functional adults to foster, care for, or at least take an interest in American kids.

Posted by: Cal | July 25, 2006 3:54 PM

Cal has entered the arena, all hope of serious discussion is lost.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 25, 2006 3:56 PM

Cal - just out of curiosity, do you know anyone who has adopted a child/been adopted? And this claim you make about people "giving back" their adopted children - do you have data/statistics to back that up?

Posted by: Missicat | July 25, 2006 3:57 PM

"When it comes to work, children and family, does balance exist?"

I'll be the first to say "yes."

I feel that I live a very balanced life. I can't possibly be the only one...?? Maybe it's another one of those things like "all mothers feel guilty" where a bunch of people will come out of the woodwork and say "I do not feel guilty, and my life is totally in balance!!"

Posted by: momof4 | July 25, 2006 4:00 PM

And this claim you make about people "giving back" their adopted children - do you have data/statistics to back that up?

I don't know what the statitics are, but used to work for a lawyer that handled adoptions, and I saw it happen twice. It was heartbreaking.

Posted by: Rockville | July 25, 2006 4:01 PM

And this claim you make about people "giving back" their adopted children - do you have data/statistics to back that up?

I don't know what the statitics are, but used to work for a lawyer that handled adoptions, and I saw it happen twice. It was heartbreaking.

Posted by: Rockville | July 25, 2006 4:01 PM

"Every time I hear about people adopting babies from China, Russia, Guatamala, etc., I wonder the same thing."

Do you wonder the same thing when a New Jersey family adopts a baby from New York while some New Jersey kids still need homes?

"After all, we're all human. It's not like American kids are better or more deserving than any other kid."

Exactly.

"Bad adoption laws and too many adoption candidates that were aborted instead"

...and don't forget all the adoption candidates that weren't conceived.

"The benefits of domestic adoption are that the child often can be adopted very young - sometimes at birth"

That's more a benefit of American adoption, whether domestic (American adopting American) or international (foreigner adopting American):

http://www.csmonitor.com/2004/1027/p11s01-lifp.html

"...Families in foreign countries cite the availability of newborns as the primary reason they choose to adopt in the US. Canada and Europe don't have as many babies available for adoption. Therefore, 'if you want a newborn, you go to America,' says Bart van Meurs, Elisa's dad. Families also cite the health of the babies, the short waiting time, and the availability of medical records as additional advantages. Race is seldom a consideration..."

"On the other hand, Russia has the lowest birth rates of any industrialized nations. Putin is considering paying people to have a second child. Isn't it wiser to use those resources to create situations in which families would not need to disgard some of their children in orphanages to begin with."

Good question. Also, isn't a big part of Russia's population drop the high death rates among middle-aged men?

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/4125072.stm

"...Statistically, a baby boy born in Russia today is unlikely to see his 60th birthday..."

How about using some those resources to help him live longer (whether he's in an orphanage or a family) instead of just bribing someone to make a replacement for him?

"Birth parents, for better and for worse, take what they get."

I thought some of them *don't* take what they get - instead, these ones give up what they get for adoption.

"Biological parents can make no such choices."

Yes they can. Someone thinking "I want a boy!" can give up a girl. Someone thinking "I want a healthy infant!" can give up a disabled infant.

Anyway, what about the Fresh Air Fund? Isn't Shari's situation a little bit like that too?

Posted by: Maria | July 25, 2006 4:04 PM

Rockville mom - I agree, even once is heartbreaking, but Cal is making it sound like it happens most of the time.

Posted by: Missicat | July 25, 2006 4:04 PM

Cal, do you know anything about adoption? It doesn't sound like you do. You're merely here to stir up emotions and get attention.

You wrote: "You notice these countries are never African, yes?"

One poster above mentioned adopting a child from Uganda. Ever heard of Angelina Jolie? That's only two examples. Children ARE adopted from Africa.

How is the decision not to give birth and adopt instead any more of an ideological decision than your desire to have a bio child?

"An adult who doesn't want any kid offered to him is clearly not the same as a "real" parent, and shouldn't be treated as such."

You're talking about parents who wish to adopt. I know this will shock you Cal, but some bio parents don't want their children.

Posted by: Metro Center | July 25, 2006 4:05 PM

I have to go back to scrubbing walls, but I do know that adopted parents returning their kids is common--by no means a majority, or even a plurality, of course. It was a big issue with the Romanian RAD adoptees.

Posted by: Cal | July 25, 2006 4:06 PM

"Birth parents, for better and for worse, take what they get."

No they don't. If they don't want the kid(s), they find a way to get out, through divorce or simple abandonment. Men AND women do this.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 25, 2006 4:08 PM

Momof4 - I've been struggling with "balance" for the whole 16 months I've been a mom. What I am slowly learning is that for me, balance is more about acceptance and a state of mind, and less about how much "me" time I have. I'm curious as to how you have struck harmony in your life. Is is more state of mind for you, or more physical in terms of "me" time, job satisfaction, etc. Looking for hints anywhere I can get them!

Posted by: DG | July 25, 2006 4:09 PM

"And this claim you make about people "giving back" their adopted children - do you have data/statistics to back that up?"

My sister is an elementary school teacher whose principal's wife was recently diagnosed with MS. They decided that since she's got MS, they can't take care of their dog anymore, so now my sister has their pug. They also decided that they couldn't take care of their adopted daughter anymore. She went back to Alaska last week.

My sister was horrified and is actively looking for another job. She wants nothing to do with him.

Posted by: Lizzie | July 25, 2006 4:10 PM

Of all the people involved in the process of adoption, I think the adoptive parents are not the ones who have the problem. They want a child that nobody else wants. That has to be better for the child than just about any other life they're facing. Foster care is another story - there are good homes and there are the truly awful ones that end up on the news. But that's not the same thing.

An acquaintance of mine got pregnant in college and investigated giving up her baby for adoption - apparently the person at the agency actually said something to her about how much money they could get for a white baby with college-educated parents. Ick. (She walked out and kept the baby)

And Cal, for all you complain about treating children as commodities, you're doing it too. "Buy American!" A child is a child, and any reasoning for adopting American babies over foreign ones is a practical consideration, not an ethical one. I agree the system is backwards that it's easier to adopt a foreign citizen than an American one, but that's the way we've made it.

Posted by: SEP | July 25, 2006 4:10 PM

Arrggghg, one more.

"Cal is making it sound like it happens most of the time."

I said it happens in alarming numbers. It does. There's a common legal procedure for it. That by no means suggests that it happens most of the time.

Adopted parents hand their kids over to the state by choice in far greater numbers than birth parents do.

Now, remember: I am not arguing that adopted parents are bad, or that all birth parents are good. In many cases a consumer adopted parent is far superior to an incompetent birth parent.

The point was that adopted parents are not, and cannot, be the *equivalent* of birth parents. They are shoppers, and have standards for purchase and return.

Posted by: Cal | July 25, 2006 4:11 PM

I found these numbers although they are dated. There seems to be little available data on failed adoptions.

Percentages of Failed Adoptions
13% of all adopted children were returned to state officials in 1989;

25% of all adopted children who are older or who have physical or emotional problems were returned by their adopters in 1989.

-Child Welfare League of America

1,000 children per year are returned to adoption agencies by their adopters;
2% of the 1,000 are under age 2;
25% are ages 12-17 will be sent back to agencies and their adoptions dissolved;


Posted by: Rockville | July 25, 2006 4:12 PM

I'm glad I wasn't adopted by Cal.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 25, 2006 4:12 PM

I think one way to achieve "balance" is to let go of so many expectations. Many of them expectations we place on ourselves. I saw my best friend wear herself out to bake cupcakes for her daughter's daycare group (teachers and kids) in celebration of her daughter's second birthday. This was after the celebration at her daughter's special-needs school and after the birthday party that had been thrown for the daughter in her home. How many parties and cupcakes does a child need at two? My friend was worn out, but she forced herself to do this because it's what other moms did. In the end, does it really matter?

Ask yourself that often, and I think you'll get closer to "balance".

Posted by: Metro DC | July 25, 2006 4:13 PM

Ye, one of the problems with Russias declining population is the low life expectancy of men. I think 58 years of age compared to the US of 74. Maria, you bring up a good point of using some of those resources to keep the men alive.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 25, 2006 4:14 PM

You're right, anon at 3:21. That was a poor choice of words. I was trying to make a point to a previous poster and used stronger and more blunt words than I should. I'm sorry.

Posted by: Meesh | July 25, 2006 4:14 PM

Cal, I thought you were going back to "scrubbing walls" -- but of course you're lurking here to keep responding to posts. Loser.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 25, 2006 4:15 PM

I am glad I am not being raised by Cal-adopted or not. He seems subhuman. I doubt his statistics too.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 25, 2006 4:15 PM

Arrrrggghgh two more! But now I must off to scrub walls.

"And Cal, for all you complain about treating children as commodities, you're doing it too. "Buy American!" "

Ha! Good one.

"A child is a child, and any reasoning for adopting American babies over foreign ones is a practical consideration, not an ethical one."

I agree with you so far as the shopping mentality goes. But as I began by saying, adoption is a solution to a problem--children who don't have parents. To the extent that we allow people to shop for kids, they should be shopping for kids that alleviate our own social problems.

So if by "practical' you mean from a social policy standpoint, then yes, of course. As it stands now, we give the same incentives to a person to give thousands of dollars to China as we do to a person who saves the state thousands by adopting an American kid. That's what I'm talking about. I absolutely agree that the unpleasant issues with the parent are the same regardless.

Now, to the walls!

Posted by: Cal | July 25, 2006 4:16 PM

"one of the problems with Russias declining population is the low life expectancy of men."

The Atlantic had a very good article about this a few years ago called "Russia Is Finished." It might be Google-able.

Posted by: Lizzie | July 25, 2006 4:16 PM

Lizzie - sounds like the principal should have given back his wife...

Posted by: Missicat | July 25, 2006 4:18 PM

Why don't we all just adopt an entire illegal alien family? That would solve some problems.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 25, 2006 4:18 PM

Apparently, there are problems with international adoption. For example, I read an article about how baby girls are being kidnapped in China because they have become a commidity and it is profitable to give them up for adoption. I do wonder how much we are contributing to such problems.

Posted by: Rockville | July 25, 2006 4:18 PM

Cal, you are annoyingly smart. At least your arguments are [seemingly] well reasoned instead of "you meanie! you are a jerk," etc.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 25, 2006 4:20 PM

WOW! I rarely read these -- who has the time -- but the topic was intriguing!

I have a WONDERFUL 10-year old adopted daughter from the former USSR who we adopted as a baby.

Why did we go overseas for a baby? We tried domestic adoptions first -- and NO we were not scalped by the droves of adoption agencies who were merely trying to steal from us as one writer suggests. We were always treated with respect.

I think the main reason domestic adoptions are so expensive is because our system bends over beyond backwards to make sure that the birth parents have every opportunity -- and then some -- to change their minds. Several of the agencies we contacted would have required us to pay all of the pregnant girl's medical expenses -- and then hope she didn't change her mind (because obviously she would not have had the resources to pay us back if she had changed her mind!). We live in Maryland -- and at least at the time we were looking into domestic adoption -- either of the birth parents or ANY of the birth grandparents had 2 years to change their minds. I don't know about you, but you'd have to be crazy to adopt under that cloud of fear!

Shari -- good luck with your decision. I'll keep you in my prayers!

Nancy

Posted by: Nancy | July 25, 2006 4:22 PM

>>>Why don't we all just adopt an entire illegal alien family? That would solve some problems.

I would love to adopt some aliens but their little green suction cup fingers scare my kids.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 25, 2006 4:24 PM

"Cal, you are annoyingly smart."

After she/he uses this phrase:

"999,999,999,999 shades of white"

Sorry, there's nothing smart about racist propoganda.

Posted by: Oh please! | July 25, 2006 4:31 PM

You go Cal! Get Whitey!

Posted by: Rev Al Sharpton | July 25, 2006 4:32 PM

999,999,999,999 shades of white"

Um, can you explain how that is racist? She is painting her walls, apparently. Sorry, I just don't get the racism here.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 25, 2006 4:33 PM

How funny! Cal posts an anonymous post in his own support at 4:20.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 25, 2006 4:33 PM

Stats on returned adopted children - I don't have any, but:

Just as bad as the adoptive parents who "return" children and dissolve the adoption are the adoptive parents who use the threat of returning their adopted children to keep them in line and make them "greatful" for having a home. It was my grandmother's favorite tactic for my dad and his sister, adopted separately from the US and East Germany.

Posted by: belgie girl | July 25, 2006 4:34 PM

Didn't know that was Cal at 4:20. I figured it was the person who loves to tell everyone who they should/shouldn't ignore. That person is equally annoying.

Then again 4:33, that's probably YOU.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 25, 2006 4:36 PM

Yes, many of you folks have discovered the great secret -- a FEW adoptive parents are bad parents. It sure is a relief to know that there are no bad BIRTH parents in the world! Whew!

Posted by: Nancy | July 25, 2006 4:37 PM

Selling 14 year old girls for adoption on the international market sounds pretty sick to me. There are a whole host of sexual predators here and abroad. If there aren't already horror stories of widespread abuse and exploitation, expect it in the near future.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 25, 2006 4:37 PM

Oh, Cal, you're so attention deprived. I think I'll leave now so you can sit here babbling to yourself.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 25, 2006 4:37 PM

a FEW adoptive parents are bad parents.

It would be interesting to see what the statistics are on adoptive parents who abuse their children. I hope it's only a few, but I wonder....

I have heard that there is rampant abuse in the foster system.

Posted by: Rockville | July 25, 2006 4:39 PM

Apologies - I posted at 420 in defense of Cal. I just happen to think that even if you disagree with her, she offers well reasoned arguments to oppose. These arguments can help you sharpen your own thoughts. Wrapping good logic in caustic language doesn't help as many people as logic in compelling language (hello....paging Larry Summers), but I haven't heard anyone arguing Cal on Cal's merits yet. FWIW, I disagree with her regarding adoption.

Posted by: Susan | July 25, 2006 4:40 PM

Rockville,

What makes you think that there is rampant abuse of adopted children? We know dozens and dozens of well-loved, well-taken care of children who were adopted! I don't know if we adoptive parents seek each other out -- or if there are more adopted children out there then any of you realize! I know that there were 3 adopted children in my daughter's 4th grade class of 20 kids last year! One set of parents were divorced -- SHOCK! (Is that abusive?) Maybe you are reading too much of the Enquirer.

Posted by: Nancy | July 25, 2006 4:44 PM

I got these statistics from a link in an HHS website. http://statistics.adoption.com/information/statistics-disruption-dissolution.html

What kinds of adoptions disrupt?
Less than 1% of infant adoptions disrupt. (Barth and Berry, 1988)
10% to 12% of adoptions of children aged three and older disrupt. (Barth and Berry, 1990)
Of children placed for adoption at ages 6 to 12, the disruption rate is 9.7%. (Barth, 1988)
Of children placed for adoption at ages 12 to 18, the disruption rate is 13.5%. (Barth, 1988)
Of children of any age with special needs placed for adoption, the disruption rate is 14.3%. (Groze, 1986)
Placements of older children and children with histories of previous placements and longer stays in the foster care system are more likely to disrupt (Stolley, 1993)
The disruption rate increases as the age of the child at the time of adoption increases. (Boyne et al., 1984; Barth and Berry, 1988)
The overall decrease in disruption percentages in 1988 from 1984 can be traced to the introduction of post-adoption services, an important factor in containing the number of adoption disruptions. (Barth and Berry, 1988)

Posted by: Anonymous | July 25, 2006 4:47 PM

About adoption and "shopping." I realize that it's in quotes, but shopping is not the right term. In consumerism, goods are produced for the sole purpose of selling and making money. Ask a pregnant teen why she had sex and she will not tell you "to make money." And ask an adoptive parent if he or she considers what they're doing shopping; I'm sure the answer will be "no."

And the idea of parents who can not have children considering adoption the "second best option" is asnine. It's their only option that doesn't involve invasive measures. And it's fantastic option at that! There are two winners in that situation. Frankly, the idea of two people spending thousands of dollars sticking themselves with needles and making a baby in a tube when there are millions of children without homes is crazy. Those thousands of dollars could feed 50 children in an impoverished country!

And the assertion that adoptive parents cannot be the same as biological parents seems to be based solely on the fact that adoptive parents choose the child. Well, is one child better than the other? On what basis is it okay for parents to choose adoptive kids? Is choosing among skin color or hair color really a big deal when they are all babies? There is no way to adopt without making a choice, even completely arbitrary choices. What are adoptive parents to do, wait for one to arrive in a box out of fear that they'll be judged for choosing a baby for the wrong reasons?
It's a fact that you chose who to marry. Are you not the same (and by implication not as good) as people who were betrothed and wed in prearranged marriages? And if you, say, married a woman with blond hair aren't you choosing not to have children with black hair? Why are your choices better than someone else's?

BTW, "Bad adoption laws and too many adoption candidates that were aborted instead"
"...and don't forget all the adoption candidates that weren't conceived."

OMG that made me laugh!!! Very clever.

Posted by: Meesh | July 25, 2006 4:47 PM

What makes you think that there is rampant abuse of adopted children?

If you read carefully, you will see that I never said there is rampant abuse of adopted children. I don't know the facts, and I cannot just assume that it does not happen in significant numbers. I said I wonder. It was a question, not an assumption.

Posted by: Rockville | July 25, 2006 4:49 PM

To 4:47 (are you Rockville?)

These statistics are interesting. How many BIRTH children are dumped into foster care? Dumped onto family members or otherwise abandoned? Are the statistics for dissolving adoptions higher than it is for abandoning birth children? I don't know. Probably -- especially considering that the older adopted children sometimes come with overwhelming baggage that may overwhelm some families. But rampant -- don't think so!

Posted by: Nancy | July 25, 2006 4:54 PM

>>>Frankly, the idea of two people spending thousands of dollars sticking themselves with needles and making a baby in a tube when there are millions of children without homes is crazy.

Meesh, cheap shot at people who are very emotionally vulnerable. I feel very bad for my friend who has, for all her life, wanted to have a little one -- and is willing to endure this pain to make that happen.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 25, 2006 4:54 PM

About "shopping" for kids to adopt -- since kids are living, growing, developing people, you don't really know what you're getting. I've worked with a lot of children who were adopted from other countries and were later diagnosed with autism or related disorders (Asperger's, PDD, etc). I really haven't seen any difference in the adoptive families and biological families of kids with these disorders.

I also know of a family with several special-needs foster children. They are a "foster-to-adopt" family, meaning the children will either go back to their biological family or will stay with this family and be adopted by them, but they will not go from this family to another foster family. They are great with the kids and have become very skilled at the special care that they need. They have maintained pretty good relationships with the biological parents. I am really impressed by this family and I know that it is something that many people would not be able to do.

Posted by: speech girl | July 25, 2006 4:58 PM

It seems like the original post was about balancing the conflicting needs of different family members, the advisability of taking on another child, and whether balance is a reasonable goal where multiple children are involved. Does anyone want to get back on topic and talk about that?

Posted by: Anonymous | July 25, 2006 4:59 PM

About "shopping" for kids to adopt -- since kids are living, growing, developing people, you don't really know what you're getting. I've worked with a lot of children who were adopted from other countries and were later diagnosed with autism or related disorders (Asperger's, PDD, etc). I really haven't seen any difference in the adoptive families and biological families of kids with these disorders.

I also know of a family with several special-needs foster children. They are a "foster-to-adopt" family, meaning the children will either go back to their biological family or will stay with this family and be adopted by them, but they will not go from this family to another foster family. They are great with the kids and have become very skilled at the special care that they need. They have maintained pretty good relationships with the biological parents. I am really impressed by this family and I know that it is something that many people would not be able to do.

Posted by: speech girl | July 25, 2006 5:00 PM

To 4:47 (are you Rockville?)

These statistics are interesting. How many BIRTH children are dumped into foster care? Dumped onto family members or otherwise abandoned? Are the statistics for dissolving adoptions higher than it is for abandoning birth children? I don't know. Probably -- especially considering that the older adopted children sometimes come with overwhelming baggage that may overwhelm some families. But rampant -- don't think so!

Yes, that was me. Sorry I forgot to sign. Look, I am not saying birth parents are better than foster parents or visa versa. I just don't think the two can be compared, and I am not willing to see either is better. But I do think that in Shari's situation (she wrote today's blog), she should consider how this 14 year old child will affect her entire family before she jumps in and adopts her because you cannot go into such an adoption HOPING things will work out. They might not. You need to go into it with eyes wide open, having considered the obstacles and consequences. I bet all those people in the failed adoption statistics went into the adoption with the best intentions only to find themselves unable to cope when the s**t hit the fan. I think it is good to know the statistics because shows you how sadly common it is for an adoption to fail.

Posted by: Rockville | July 25, 2006 5:11 PM

Susan,
The reason no one has argued the merits of Cal's postings is because s/he is arguing both sides.

Firstly, Cal says adoption is a "solution to a problem". This is true. As are banks, realtors, daycare, automobiles, computers...where should I stop.

Then, Cal says agencies have turned adoption into, essentially, a marketplace where people can shop for a baby. This is also true. You fill out what you would like, but I have heard from our friends that the requests are not always honored to a "T".

But as others have pointed out, if you have the money you can do that with in vitro and in utero selection as well. We were advised that if we had multiple feti, we could selectively abort. (This made my blood run cold.)

My belief is that the reasons a lot of people on this blog object to Cal is that the language Cal uses is not loving, caring, and hear-warming. It is a different filter, through which to view the parenting process.

But, Cal, here's the thing. If I could adopt without paying $20k and subjecting my home and family to the rigors of the process, I would certainly take more interest in adoption. (We tried to convince a relative to give us the baby rather than abort. We failed, desperately.) If I'm going to have to shell out that kind of money and I have the option to choose some of the details, then I will do so and with the most certainty that it won't be overturned. I spent $30k on my own as it is and no birth grand/parent is going to be able to take him away from my wife and me.

It is possible to adopt without going through an agency or "the system", but it certainly is a lot harder to find a baby lying under an oak tree in the middle of a field than finding one that is already in "the system" or has ties to an overseas agency. And once they are in the system, someone has to pay to get them out before the auto-release function kicks in. So, what we really need is an easier, less expensive method for getting the U.S. detainees homes. After all, I could use some help with the daily chores.

Posted by: Working Dad | July 25, 2006 5:37 PM

There was an interesting article in the Washington Post a number of months ago about Chinese babies being snatched off the street to be sold as "adoptees". The jist of the article was that the increase in "American" couples looking to adopt Chinese babies had sparked this unpleasant side effect to the detriment of the Chinese.

No child should be left floundering in an awful governmental system when loving parents may be available. I don't really think it matters if the couple does not want biological children or are infertile, if they are loving and can provide a stable home for a child, they should have every oportunity to succeed. It is too bad, it is so difficult to adopt in this country.


Posted by: interesting | July 25, 2006 5:50 PM

A previous post included this statement --"maybe advice about coming to peace with being unbalanced would be more useful?"
I couldn't agree more. And I'll push it even further. Maybe "balance" is an illusion, like "control," that represents our psyche's need to impose order on our surroundings. Perhaps accepting that we can't control everything, or balance everything, would free some of us from the unhappiness that comes with continually unmet expectations. It's not setting lower standards -- it might be accepting simply what is.

Posted by: amy Hudock | July 25, 2006 6:07 PM

Balance may not be achieved on a daily basis but I think it's possible on a larger scale. It's impossible to balance everything every day but in a week, a month, a year, a lifetime - things do balance. Small children's needs are different than older children's needs. Work demands peak and ebb. Let's not give up on balance but take a step back and find a larger perspective.

As far as Shari's story - more power to you. Adding a child, and a teen with anticipated issues, is brave and a huge leap of faith under any conditions. I think you'll know if it's right and even then, it may not always seem that it was the right decision. But individual days don't compare to the years of happiness you could have with Olga. Expect hard days and hard weeks but if it's worth the effort to add her to your family, there's going to be enough love to make it work.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 25, 2006 6:40 PM

RE international adoption: we had the following choices: work in the CA foster care system that has a working philosophy that children are better off with their biological parents, and therefore be invited to fall in love completely with a child and wait for the state to come in and him/her away when one of the parents becomes fit (maybe in a year or two or three), or go through the difficult experience of an international adoption and bring a child into our "forever" family. Guess which one we chose. Two years later our 11 year old son is the light of our lives -- forever.

Anyone want to walk a half a block in my shoes?

Posted by: CA mom | July 25, 2006 6:56 PM

"As are banks, realtors, daycare, automobiles, computers...where should I stop."

You're a little confused. Your automobile is a technological improvement over your feet or a horse. Your bank is an economic improvement over your mattress. Your computer is, dare I say, a considerable improvement over your brain and your handwriting.

Adoptive parents are not an improvement. They are a substandard substitute, only used when the optimal solution is incompetent, incapable, or unavailable. Adoptive parents are only an improvement over abandonment or severe neglect/abuse.

"But as others have pointed out, if you have the money you can do that with in vitro and in utero selection as well. We were advised that if we had multiple feti, we could selectively abort. (This made my blood run cold.)"

These aren't the same thing at all, of course. If I ask for genetic manipulations to get me a blue-eyed blonde baby girl, I am still the parent of the brown-haired green-eyed boy that's born when the technician screws up. I am responsible for the child even if there are birth defects. I can't refuse the child, or turn him over to the system saying "sorry, not what I ordered".

Tweaking an embryo is, like it or not, quite different from looking at a real, live, child like the teen in this article and saying "Kid, you're on approval".

Even if we get to the point where we can specify exact parameters for birth children, such preferences will never be the same as those expressed by the adoptive parent. The birth parent takes what comes. The adoptive parent takes what he wants.

Birth parents sometimes have to turn over their severely, terminally disabled children to the state because they don't have the resources to provide for them. That's about the only analogous birth parent situation to something that's in the normal course of things for an adopted parent.

" If I could adopt without paying $20k and subjecting my home and family to the rigors of the process, I would certainly take more interest in adoption. "

Hey, if it were cheaper, I'd buy a Porsche!

But no, it's not shopping.

As a general note: I've said several times that adoptive parents are often preferable to the real thing and that that's entirely unrelated to this particular discussion. Anyone bringing it up again is either clueless or dishonest.

Posted by: Cal | July 25, 2006 7:09 PM

Cal -- I've lost track of what you're saying versus what you're quoting from others. I particularly like this quote:

"Adoptive parents are not an improvement. They are a substandard substitute, only used when the optimal solution is incompetent, incapable, or unavailable. Adoptive parents are only an improvement over abandonment or severe neglect/abuse. "

I won't take the bait, and just admit that you're right, 'cause I'm considered "the best mom ever." I suppose my little guy has a unique frame of reference, with a lot more maturity and perspective about what he should be able to expect from a so-called parent. He's actually looking forward to being a parent and doing it the right way someday.


Posted by: Adoptive Mom | July 25, 2006 7:31 PM

Cal -- I've lost track of what you're saying versus what you're quoting from others. I particularly like this quote:

"Adoptive parents are not an improvement. They are a substandard substitute, only used when the optimal solution is incompetent, incapable, or unavailable. Adoptive parents are only an improvement over abandonment or severe neglect/abuse. "

I won't take the bait, and just admit that you're right, 'cause I'm considered "the best mom ever." I suppose my little guy has a unique frame of reference, with a lot more maturity and perspective about what he should be able to expect from a so-called parent. He's actually looking forward to being a parent and doing it the right way someday.


Posted by: Adoptive Mom | July 25, 2006 7:31 PM

Cal -- I've lost track of what you're saying versus what you're quoting from others. I particularly like this quote:

"Adoptive parents are not an improvement. They are a substandard substitute, only used when the optimal solution is incompetent, incapable, or unavailable. Adoptive parents are only an improvement over abandonment or severe neglect/abuse. "

I won't take the bait, and just admit that you're right, 'cause I'm considered "the best mom ever." I suppose my little guy has a unique frame of reference, with a lot more maturity and perspective about what he should be able to expect from a so-called parent. He's actually looking forward to being a parent and doing it the right way someday.


Posted by: Adoptive Mom | July 25, 2006 7:34 PM

Not everyone wants a white baby.

I find this offensive. Can you remove this comment as well? What's wrong with white babies? I geuss it's okay to talk about white kids.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 25, 2006 8:10 PM

***"emotional baggage" isn't living with a loving family in the U.S. a whole world better for the teen than being in an orphanage with little chance to recieve the love, support, and access to eduction that she needs to change her economic and social standing?***

This would seem so to those of us who are logical adults. However, when dealing with children in the system, our logic doesn't necessarily apply. I have a friend who took in foster children ages 10-15. Granted, foster children with family somewhere are not quite in the same boat as children in foreign orphanages. One of the things my friend discovered was that no matter how much she and her husband had to offer, the children never really felt like they belonged. A common thread was stealing by the children - didn't think they were entitled to things and took them without asking.

I have teenagers and they can create quite a turmoil in a household, even without "extra baggage". As much as a trial sounds cruel when we think of the poor, orphaned teenager, I think it is imperative that there is a trial so that the parents and child can make their decision to proceed to adoption based on a little bit of reality and not just the desire to give "the poor child" a good home. These situations are not fairy tales that all have a happy ending.

The trip should not be presented as shopping for a new family for either the child or adults. It should be presented as a program similar to high school foreign exchange student programs - a chance to spend time in another country, learn some things, and meet new people. I also like the idea that the children must return to the home country. This gives all concerned parties some time apart to reflect on the experience. It is tragic for the broken-hearted children who go through the process and do not get adopted. However, it can also be tragic for an entire family to proceed with an adoption that may lead to destruction of an entire family.

And, I also wonder if sometimes the children don't like the placement and don't want to remain there permanently. I don't know that it is fair of us to assume that the child would be broken-hearted in every case.

Posted by: kea | July 25, 2006 8:39 PM

"Every time I hear about people adopting babies from China, Russia, Guatamala, etc., I wonder the same thing." Ny comment.

"Do you wonder the same thing when a New Jersey family adopts a baby from New York while some New Jersey kids still need homes?"


Yes. What's wrong with Jersey kids? They don't have two heads!;>

My brother-in-law and his wife "returned" a teen they had adopted several years before. It was an open adoption. She made their lives hell, had an inability to bond, and when she kept getting into trouble, they let social services take her. Very sad. I don't think social services was straight with the adoptive parents about the child's history.

Posted by: momof2 | July 25, 2006 9:05 PM

>>>Not everyone wants a white baby.

I find this offensive. Can you remove this comment as well? What's wrong with white babies? I geuss it's okay to talk about white kids.>>>

STFU.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 25, 2006 9:21 PM

"There was an interesting article in the Washington Post a number of months ago about Chinese babies being snatched off the street to be sold as "adoptees". The jist of the article was that the increase in "American" couples looking to adopt Chinese babies had sparked this unpleasant side effect to the detriment of the Chinese."

I don't think it's the fault of American couples. I think it's the fault of the Chinese government, which charges foreign couples BIG BUCKS to adopt despite the huge surplus of girl orphans and the minimal cost of taking care of those orphans before they are adopted. If the Chinese government prioritized placing babies in good homes above making big profits off of those babies, it would reduce the price of adoption to cost plus a reasonable markup (perhaps 100%-200% instead of the current 1500%-3000%) and any incentive to steal babies for profit would disappear.

Posted by: Allison | July 25, 2006 9:29 PM

Hi Leslie -- I suspect you have another thread for your blog -- international adoptions for working women. Maybe some of us who have gone through it can shed some light for our sister/brother bloggers on:
* who
* when
* how
* where
* why (choice, not necessarily necessity)
* challenges and rewards

Gee, sounds a lot like on balance...

Posted by: Adoptive mom | July 25, 2006 9:58 PM

the corruption in China may be why some people are turning towards Russia to adopt.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 25, 2006 10:04 PM

Again one more time. This was my response to the orginal post: To mother of two: I wasn't implying that all US children up for adoption are white or that all forgein babies are not white. It was a response to a post that was removed. Clearly adopting from a country like Viet Nam or China means you will NOT be adopting a white child. My point was that for some people race does not matter in adoption. I was not all implying that white or non white is any better. I am sorry if I offended anyone.

Once again, that comment was made in response to a post that was deleted. The deleted post implied that people do not adopt from the US because they wanted a healthy white infant. I was simply stating that some adoptions abroad do not assure a white child. Clearly, if you are adopting from a country like China or Viet Nam you are not expecting nor wanting a white child. It was never meant to mean there is something inherently wrong with white children. Or that any race is superior. I apologize if my post was taken out of context. Clearly it is a lesson learned that posts that are not in shown in direct context can easily be misinterpreted. I apologize further. I have no problem with them delelting my original post. But this is my second apology. I hope it can be accepted from the cyber space community.

Posted by: lieu | July 26, 2006 7:30 AM

lieu-appology accepted. written comments have limitations, and can be misinterpreted.

Posted by: experienced | July 26, 2006 8:50 AM

I have two adopted cousins: one from South Korea and one from North America. I couldn't imagine my family without them nor could anyone else in my family. It does not matter what gender, race, blood relation that they have to us, they are family.

In our family, we made the conscious decision to let them know that they were adopted all along. This was couched to them that they were chosen children, born to different mothers, but meant to be part of our family. There have been some comments occasionally from other people (outside the family in a small Southern town) regarding them, especially my cousin adopted from S Korea. But with the amount of love and encouragement from the family, their responses were the equivalent of a shrug of the shoulders.

The birth mother of my cousin adopted from N. America did attempt to contact her when she was 14 even though she was not supposed to as part of the adoption agreement until she was 18 at least. My cousin was naturally curious about her but eventually determined that my aunt was her true mother. I don't know if there was actually any contact between them.

My cousins are now 21 (adopted from S Korea) and 19 (adopted from N. America) and well-adjusted, productive members of the community, accepted and loved no matter their origins. The truth of this comes from a small, framed saying my aunt got right after adopting the first of my cousins which said, "Not flesh of my flesh, nor bone of my bone, but still miraculously my own".

Just my experience...

Posted by: Family of Adoptees | July 26, 2006 10:35 AM

Just some clarification...

When we told my cousins they were chosen, it was meant as 'even more special' than bio children because they were desperately wanted and not just a happenstance.

More information, my cousins are 21 and 19 YEARS old, and adoption was a little different thing then. My aunt and uncle were not allowed to "choose" what they wanted in a child. They told the international agency that they would like a boy, but would be more than happy with a girl (which happens with bio parents all the time). They did get a boy from S. Korea right when S. Korea was first opened to international adoptions. They and the rest of the family was thrilled to have him. My female cousin (adopted from N. America) was a whole different deal. We didn't know for sure that my aunt and uncle were going to be allowed to adopt her until the day they brought her home. She was dressed for a few days in my cabbage patch doll clothes until more clothes could be obtained (since she wasn't expected, my aunt and uncle had given away all of the clothes from my male cousin).

As far as the arguments for and against. Obviously, I'm a proponent of adoption being family of adoptees. I will say that in a perfect world, adoption would not be needed. Anyone who wanted children would have them, and those who didn't want children would not have them. Unfortunately, we don't live in a perfect world, nor will we anytime soon. Therefore, adoption is necessary to get children away from where they are not wanted/ can't be cared for, and getting them into places where they are wanted/ cared for. It may not be perfect, but it is better than alternatives I know of now (orphanages, etc.)

Posted by: Family of Adoptees | July 26, 2006 11:49 AM

"It is so nice to hear of the problems and issues of the well-to-do. Adopting from Russia is an excellent alternative when you can afford the tens of thousands of dollars it requires for a single child."

I know this family. They ain't rich, folks. They scrimp and save to make ends meet, and their children are always their top priority... not new furniture or new clothes or a big fancy house or an expensive vacation.

There is a big difference between going shopping for that perfect child, and wanting desperately to see that one more child has a good home. This is selfless, not selfish. Of course there are the needs of the other children to consider, and all of the other factors, but this family is seeking to care for another child EVEN THOUGH they probably can't really afford it... not because they have extra money lying around.

Posted by: kimmers | July 26, 2006 3:07 PM

I gotta weigh in on the "adoption is second-best" claim. My brother and I were both adopted, and there is nothing "second-best" about it. We ended up with the best parents anyone could ask for (my relationship with my parents is better than that of anyone I know, seriously), tons and tons and tons of love and care and support, and an absurd number of aunts and uncles and cousins. My parents are amazing and irreplaceable and I thank God all the time for them. Adoption is possibly the most unselfish thing you can do--you voluntarily take on serious obligations to someone to whom you otherwise had none.

And while some adoptive parents may return their kids (I didn't know that was even possible), most adoptive parents I know, including my own, actually forget that their kids aren't biologically related to them. Love is never "second best."

Posted by: Adopted Child | July 26, 2006 3:39 PM

I worry for the teenager who is in this situation.That would be scary to come to another country and you know that if they don't like you, you have to go back. It seems to be hard for both of them!

Posted by: Anonymous | July 26, 2006 4:03 PM

So I have to address the first post and all those followups - like all the other posters, this hits home with me.

We adopted internationally after a LOT of research and soul-searching and decided that for us (preferential adopters), we felt we could be of more help to a baby born in a country with not much infrastructure to help unwanted kids - here in America, kids deserve and need a family, but are practically guaranteed food, shelter, clothing, healthcare. Our daughter had a good chance of winding up with none of those without us.

So, please let's not make this about neglected American children. That's right for some families and definitely right for the kids, but doesn't mean that a family adopting outside the US isn't doing the right thing too.

Posted by: AdoptiveMom | July 26, 2006 4:45 PM

"That would be scary to come to another country and you know that if they don't like you, you have to go back."

Maybe it's no more scary than the thought of staying in Russia and being totally on your own at age 16 or 18 or whatever it is.

Posted by: Mel | July 26, 2006 4:53 PM

>>>Not everyone wants a white baby.

I find this offensive. Can you remove this comment as well? What's wrong with white babies? I geuss it's okay to talk about white kids.>>>

STFU.

I'll shut up as soon as all the racist people who don't like white children do.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 26, 2006 8:59 PM

'I'll shut up as soon as all the racist people who don't like white children do.'

WTF??????

try reading the posts so you know what is being discussed, instead of plucking a comment out of the middle and trying to start a fight. Your ignorance is showing!!!!!!

Posted by: Anonymous | July 26, 2006 11:40 PM

Whatever, if something is said about a minority then it's offensive, but if something is said about white people, like it is all the time on this board then, I guess we deserve it. Not everyone wants a black, yellow, medium tan or red baby either.

See how rude and racist that sounds? Maybe some of you should think and proofread before you post. All, but I forgot, all of us white people have everything, so it's okay to be racist towards us. Everyone saw how quick the crack baby comment was taken down.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 27, 2006 5:44 AM

WTF??????

Also why don't you try using your words instead of swearing just because you don't agree with someone? I mean really, who is really the ignorant one here.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 27, 2006 5:48 AM

OK, for the third time: Here was my response to comments:
Again one more time. This was my response to the orginal post: To mother of two: I wasn't implying that all US children up for adoption are white or that all forgein babies are not white. It was a response to a post that was removed. Clearly adopting from a country like Viet Nam or China means you will NOT be adopting a white child. My point was that for some people race does not matter in adoption. I was not all implying that white or non white is any better. I am sorry if I offended anyone.

Once again, that comment was made in response to a post that was deleted. The deleted post implied that people do not adopt from the US because they wanted a healthy white infant. I was simply stating that some adoptions abroad do not assure a white child. Clearly, if you are adopting from a country like China or Viet Nam you are not expecting nor wanting a white child. It was never meant to mean there is something inherently wrong with white children. Or that any race is superior. I apologize if my post was taken out of context. Clearly it is a lesson learned that posts that are not in shown in direct context can easily be misinterpreted. I apologize further. I have no problem with them delelting my original post. But this is my second apology. I hope it can be accepted from the cyber space community.

Yes, I did not realize that this post would be taken out of context. Especially, when the previous post was deleted. I have apologized-now three times. The comment was not meant to be a racist slant. Clearly, some people will just try to make an argument out of nothing. I am sorry you can't accept my apology. We all make mistakes. BTW, I am married to and have white family members. It was not meant to be a racist slant. If you read the entire blog from start to finish you would have read my first two apologies.

Posted by: to 8:59 | July 27, 2006 7:31 AM

OK, for the very last time, I just emailed Ms Steiner and asked her to omit my original post or modify it to remove that one line because it is causing so much strife. I can't apologize any more for my mistake of writing something that was taken out of context and not meant to be a racist remark in anyway. I hope this is the last of it.

Posted by: lieu | July 27, 2006 8:05 AM

Lieu, I didn't take your original comment as anti-white baby. I took it as, "if people don't want a white baby, they can go overseas and get a non-white baby." This is my quote of what I was thinking, not your quote. Many parents (not all)will adopt minority children from other countries and not give a thought to minority children needing homes in the U.S. And I wonder why. You explained yourself and you apologized for any offense, and I accept that.

All of this argument over people putting down white babies is hogwash. I really don't think that's what Lieu was saying. So let's move on, shall we?

Posted by: momoftwo | July 27, 2006 8:36 AM

yes, of course let's accept the apology. However, it doesn't change the fact of the way it sounded or the fact that if that was said about a black, asian, etc child it would have been deleted. That is the main point of the argument. The moderator/Leslie picks and chooses what is offensive and usually it centers around certian races or if someone has called Leslie a bad name. I think that they shoiuld be fair to everyone.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 27, 2006 11:19 AM

Shari, if you see this, will you let us know eventually(or will Leslie) what happens -- if Olga stays or goes back?

Posted by: ohio | July 27, 2006 12:44 PM

Cal's viciousness is breath-taking. Wow. I'm just shaking my head at that.

Adoptive parents, God bless you for helping to create homes for children who have none. And in response to "Cal," I'm going to write my congressmen and express my support for encouraging adoption as much as possible--more incentives, more tax breaks, and liberalization of international laws.

Posted by: NYC | July 27, 2006 3:58 PM

Hosting programs are actually not designed for parents to "try out" children (or vice versa). They exist because so many children (both in this country and abroad) wait for adoptive families and yet most people think infants when they talk or think about adoption; most people have no idea that there are older children that want to be adopted or assume that all of those children have insurmountable problems. The purpose of hosting programs is to help older waiting children meet families. Ours has been very successful in helping older children be adopted (over 94% are). (And if they are here from an overseas orphanage they return at the end of their visit because that is a requirement of their home countries.)

The thought of bringing an older child into one's home is daunting. When children enter our lives as infants we have time to incorporate them into and change our routines as they grow. Balance is hard but we can ease into it. An older child comes into one's life and family with an existing personality, likes, dislikes, wants and needs. Parents wonder how hard it will be to integrate them into the family and get back to balance.

Very little has been said about waiting children themselves (those who participate in hosting programs and those who don't). Yes it is hard for them - wanting a family, often being told that no one will want them because they are too old, having to meet strangers who might (or might not) be interested in adopting them, dealing with the prospect of being on their own at 18 or 21 (in this country) or 16 (in Russia) when they "age out" of care. Some young people in foster care take charge of this situation, asking an adult they know and trust to adopt them. This also helps overcome some of the trepidation they feel about entering a new family with its own routines and traditions. Hosting programs and pre-placement visits are not to "try out" but to help children and families get to know each other and feel comfortable with each other before the child moves in with the family.

There are many courageous, resilient children and youth who still want to be part of a family and to achieve their own sense of balance; find opportunities to get to know them and reach out to them. There are procedures to follow; they exist to protect children. But adoption of older children does not have to be as difficult as some have suggested here.

Posted by: Susan at Kidsave | July 27, 2006 6:48 PM

wow. i am just stunned at some people's lack of awareness of the pain and sadness in the world. there are millions of children in this world who will live entire lives without knowing love from a family. how is it possibly "second best" to offer them a home, food, love, shelter, family? There is supposed to be something WRONG with that? Where is your heart?

The only extent to which there is "shopping" involved in adoption is when you might want to hope for the best outcome for all involved... since there are millions to chose from and you can't save them all. And if the idea of "shopping" makes you so sick then I'm sure you could just call up an agency and say that you will take the next available child from anywhere, no questions asked. you just want to help who the universe brings you.

Best of luck to those who think the world is a perfect place and that there aren't difficult desisions to make and people to be helped.

Posted by: bridget | July 28, 2006 1:29 AM

I think the best time to adopt children is when they're young infants, they're most likely to settle in and feel part of a family than being part of a family when they're at say 13 or 10 whatever.

Children who get adopted latter at life I would imagine will find it harder to settle into their new environment.

Posted by: joanne | August 7, 2006 7:20 AM

I've never posted anything but feel the need to do so now. Every child, regardless of age or birthplace, should have love and support. She's mischievous? What teen isn't? Even if you give her the basics - food, water, shelter, love - that's more than she may ever have.

I read that 80% of girls who have phased out of the Russian orphanages become prostitutes. Could your girl be one of the 80%? And, what's more important - work or helping others in need? If you think your family will ultimately adjust to having her as a part of it then I commend you for making the changes in your life to change someone else's!

Posted by: S. S. | September 5, 2006 9:12 PM

I commend you for wanting to adopt again, but why a russian teenager? I know of several teens that were adopted internationally just to be dumped into the system when things got a a little rough, and now they are "American teens" looking for homes. People, do your research and adopt for the right reasons! The damage done to these children by people meaning well is horrible! Adoption should be forever, these kids count on that, and then to be abandoned,again. It is just cruel!

Posted by: L.L. | October 2, 2006 1:08 AM

The comments to this entry are closed.

 
 

© 2007 The Washington Post Company