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As many readers of this blog know, adoptions from Guatemala have been closed since December 2007. What many readers may not know is that some 300 cases of adoption from Guatemala have been stuck in limbo since then—unresolved and unfinished—with the hoped-for children growing up in orphanages, neither here nor there, supported by the American families who hope someday to become their legal parents.
For one adoptive family from Tennessee, Bubba and Jess Hooker, the waiting is finally over. Five years, 36 visits, and 700,000 Frequent Flier miles later, their adoption is final. Little Daniel, whom they met as an 18-month-old baby and is now 6 years old, is at last their son.
As I read the Associated Press account of the story, I couldn’t help tearing up. What a testament to this family's faith, and hope, and love. But at the same time, what kind of insane world do we live in that this kind of endless bureaucratic nonsense is allowed to happen? Yes, we all want transparent and legal adoptions. But at what cost? For five years, little Daniel was made to endure institutional care while his file languished on someone’s desk, or got passed around from one pile to another, or simply was ignored outright. Equally outrageous is that several hundred cases continue to languish, with those children also growing up in orphanages or group homes.
In one word, no, your school is not ready for your adopted child. Unfortunately even experienced teachers, principals and guidance counselors have had little to no training in domestic or intercountry adoption unless they are adoptive parents themselves.
For children who are the same race as their parents, it may be less of an issue as often other children don’t know they are adopted unless they are told. In transracial adoptions, like my daughter’s, it is obvious to everyone that she was adopted.
Unlike some adoptive parents, I do not want to give a talk on adoption to my daughter’s classroom, and believe me, my daughter doesn’t want me to do that either. She has told me in no uncertain terms, that she does not want to talk about her adoption with her school mates. I have noticed that she is getting adept at ignoring people who ask her questions she doesn’t want to answer about her adoption.
My daughter has a close friend of the same age (6) who is more than mildly interested in my daughter’s adoption story, especially when she is in a bad or jealous mood!
The other day, this six year old went too far. She told my daughter: Your “real” father lives in Ecuador! Thankfully my daughter questioned this immediately.
I told this girl in no uncertain terms that I am Ella’s real mother and my husband is her real father. I also told her that Ella’s birthparents live in Guatemala (although she knows - she has been told several times over the last couple years). Then I asked Ella if she wanted to talk about this any further. Ella responded with a resounding “no.” I told her friend there would be no more talking about adoption – it was a private matter.
This is a hard subject to broach, but a necessary one, and I am writing it due to comments from people who have not adopted.
Some people look upon my sweet daughter as an “exotic” toy to be acquired.
Others believe that they “must” adopt a child from a third world country because it is the right thing to do or they have been told to adopt by their religious institution. If that is the case, sponsor a child or send money to an NGO helping third world countries.
When I tell people that we adopted because we wanted a daughter, they don’t believe me. They are looking for another, “deeper” reason, almost as if the wish to add a child to the family is not enough.
Well it is, and it should be. If you are adopting to fulfill an obligation (personal or otherwise) don’t. If you are adopting because you think it will be nice to have an “exotic” looking child in the family, don’t. Adopt a child because you want that child in your life, a child to love, protect and provide a supportive home for.
Parents who are attempting to adopt or complete adoptions from foreign countries will no doubt flock to see the new documentary “Stuck” when it is released to the general public in November. Produced by “Both Ends Burning,” a grassroots organization devoted to reversing the downward trend of intercountry adoption, “Stuck” was shown to a congressional delegation in Washington July 31, 2012, hosted by Senator Landrieu. Landrieu has been faithfully and stubbornly travelling to Guatemala the last couple years in an effort to bring home the children caught in an ugly adoption quagmire that has transpired over the last five years. On August 3, “Stuck” will debut at the Traverse City Film Festival.
Apparently this documentary will expose the broken intercountry adoption system, and no doubt point fingers at foreign governments and our own as the culprits. Additionally, it will emphasize the plight of the sad, voiceless victims – the children. With an estimated 10 million children in orphanages worldwide, it is a travesty that these adoptions have been held up due to bureaucracy, politics and yes, corruption.