We got the email from our adoption agency a few months ago: “There’s a little girl, are you interested?” We were. We are. We are smitten beyond our capacity to bear. We have been matched in the system in China and we are now, horribly, eternally, unswervingly waiting.
I can’t show pictures for now and I don’t want to reveal details for awhile. My heart is gratefully relieved in some respects. I have done extensive research, both before and after this referral, about the China Special Needs program, our agency, the specific orphanage, the region, the director, the medical team, the charity that supports the children, the medical need she has–this is as ethical an adoption as we could ask for. It’s also a perfect fit for us.
While the debate rages online about how to approach adoption in an ethical manner, the fact remains that there are still children who need a home or they will grow up in an orphanage. Our little one is one of those.
Anyone who has been around me for longer than five minutes has probably heard my spiel, but I want to say something briefly about why we picked the program we did: In the past, China’s one-child policy meant that there were hundreds, even thousands, of healthy girls available for adoption. In the last decade, that fact has changed tremendously. The one-child policy has been relaxed (my understanding is that the enforcement of it varies by regions). Many people who are themselves only children are allowed to have two children; since that’s almost a generation of people, the amount of healthy girls being abandoned because of their gender are becoming fewer and fewer. In another very encouraging turn of events, domestic adoption within China is also on the rise. I talked with a pediatric physical therapist who just got back from China (where she evaluated our little pumpkin); she told me 30,000 kids were adopted domestically within China last year. That is fantastic and as it should be.
The demand for adopted children within China rarely includes girls OR boys with medical needs. While there are a few cases of baby trafficking and exploitation in the system (believe me, I’ve read about all of them–I’m a tad bit obsessed), in general, the China Special Needs program helps get those children, who face stigmatization and institutionalization in their home country, into loving international homes. It’s an imperfect system, of course, but good agencies working with good orphanages whose work can be independently verified mean that it’s also one of the most transparent international adoption processes on earth.
This matters to me because, from the beginning, I didn’t want to adopt children that were “poverty orphans.” My experience at Hill Tribers and my research into educational development make me convinced that the secret in many regions is to work on a holistic level to enable mothers and fathers to have better maternity care, economic resources, educational opportunities and community support in order to help kids stay with their families or relatives or villages.
Adopting a child from China because of the political situation and strict (though changing) socioeconomic caste system is very different from adopting a child from another area. And in general adopting special needs kids is very different from adopting healthy young ones. Many of my friends have made different decisions about their adoptions and I love and support all of them in what they chose to do for their families. Adoption is very, very complicated and I don’t want my words to imply that China Special Needs is the only choice–there is much, much more to say, but the reality of the choice we’ve made has hit home for me in the last few months. We are very much at peace in this decision. For a researchy girl like myself, that is a huge relief.
This is what works for us. This is the journey we’re on now. We’re excited and nervous all at once.
And oh my word, I cannot wait to get my baby home. We are all systems go. Now we’re just waiting on bureaucracy to get the green light to travel to China in November or December.
As if that weren’t enough, my dissertation is almost done. I want to defend before we go get little Goudeau and to do that, I’m going to work like a freight train on fire for the next two months. I turned a copy of my dissertation in to my committee chair several weeks ago.
I don’t mind telling you, I was more nervous about that than almost anything I’ve ever done in my life. I’ve been writing on my own for almost two years (which seems to me, at least, pretty unusual) and my fear that I had somehow drifted off course or written terrible arguments had me convinced that they’d politely ask me to leave the program once I turned it in. I might have been a teensy bit crazy at that point.
(Dissertations turn people into purple minions from Despicable Me 2. It’s a little known fact.)
I got extensive feedback from my professor last night. It was really good, actually, very encouraging with some nice happy adjectives thrown in, but of course there are modifications in every chapter and an intro and conclusion to finish. And the bibliography.
Y’all. The bibliography.
Oh, and did I mention that Hill Tribers’ fall line launches soon? And our big flagship show, which my co-founder and I plan every year, is November 16? Artreach is awesome, but it is not a cakewalk.
So, in order to keep my sanity and to be ready when we ALL (that’s right, all four Goudeaus) go get our new little one in Shanghai, I’m going to take my own forty day break from social media.
No blogging. No facebook. No twitter. Not till at least September 22, when I’m planning on turning a copy of my dissertation in to everyone on my committee to get ready for an October defense. (You guys. My heart just stopped writing those words. I am READY to be done.)
After that, I’ll hopefully be back, full of righteous indignation and teary rants about injustice and poverty and all the happy things you always come for. I miss blogging terribly but there are just not enough words in my head right now and I need to protect what’s left.
Because that little girl we’ve seen in the videos our agency sent us, with her fat, fat cheeks and her forehead wrinkling while she concentrates, that girl is keeping me awake at night. That pumpkin is worth waiting for and she’s worth finishing for so that all we have to do when she gets home is schedule surgeries and plan therapy and just sit and gaze and get to know each other for a while.
Waiting for this little Goudeau is the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do.