Sunday, May 22, 2011

Adoption Heroes


my first adoption heroes
 As an adoptive mother, I have so many resources at my fingertips. Lining my bookshelves are dozens of books covering every possible range of adoption topics, from adopting older children, adopting internationally, how to talk to children about adoption, adoption memoirs, the history of adoption and on and on.  Through the miracle of the internet, I have access to the advice of adoption professionals, adoption blogs, and can find play groups, support groups, culture camps and adoption events.

My parents' resources consisted of two books about adoption.  'Adoption and After' for them and 'The Chosen Baby' for us kids.  There was no internet. There were no support groups. There were no camps for adopted kids. In spite of their lack of resources, they instinctively got  it right. They were my first, and remain my best, adoption heroes.

In a time when adoption was closed and secretive, my parents were open, honest and accessible. Whatever I asked, they answered.  When I wanted information, they gave me access to all of my adoption paperwork.  They didn't have a lot of information, but what they had was mine for the asking. It was in this paperwork that I first saw the financial agreement between my parents and the adoption agency.  I was shocked to learn that my parents had to pay for me.  My dad explained that the money wasn't to buy me (which is illegal!) but was for the agency fees to facilitate the adoption and all of the expenses that go along with that.  It was the first time that I understood that adoption was expensive.  What if they couldn't have afforded to adopt?  What if they exhausted their resources after adopting my brother and then couldn't afford to adopt a second child (me!)?  I would have been adopted by a different family.  I would have a different name and have led a different life.  Sure, it could have turned out just fine but it's too hard to think about.  I can't imagine not being the daughter of my parents, the sister of my siblings, the wife of my husband or the mother of these particular children.  In short, I wouldn't have been me. My parent were not rich or even close to rich, but they were perfectly suited to be parents. I am thankful that they found a way to afford adoption, twice.

I learned more about the expenses associated with adoption when Kurt and I began the process of adding to our family through adoption.  I look at Mikias and Jemberu and have the same thoughts I had as a girl.  What if?  What if we couldn't have afforded to adopt our boys?  What if we were able to adopt Mikias but could not afford to adopt a second time, thus having a family that didn't include Jemberu?  It's unimaginable.

Like many people who adopt, my parents struggled with infertility for years.  I think about people like my own parents, wanting desperately to raise a family.  I think about couples who go through invasive and expensive fertility treatments that fail to work for them. It is at this point that many people turn to adoption.  It is also at this point that many people realize that they cannot afford the expenses that go along with adoption. Too many loving, caring, and capable people who desperately want to be parents are excluded from doing so because of the cost.

Because of this, I was thrilled to learn that CNN's hero of the week is doing something about this.  After infertility treatments and miscarriages, Becky Fawcett and her husband Kipp adopted two children.  After experiencing the expenses of adoption firsthand, Becky started an organization to help others.  Her organization, Help Us Adopt (helpusadopt.org), has so far helped 43 families to adopt, by providing financial grants to help alleviate some of the expense of adoption.

My parents were my first adoption heroes and there have been many since.  Becky Fawcett is now one of my adoption heroes, too.  Bravo to Becky for recognizing the financial constraints that prevent people from adopting and for creating an organization that helps create families. Bravo also to CNN for recognizing Becky and her organization and the importance of adoption.

If you know a hero (adoption or otherwise) you can nominate them through CNNHeros.com.

4 comments:

  1. The most positive people I know remember to pass on praise and encouragement to others, not hoarding it all to themselves. Great piece, Alison (a.k.a. My Adoption Hero). -- B. Bryan

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  2. This moved me. I can't say how- but i'm in tears. Thank you for sharing.

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  3. I just want to thank you for this post, and this blog. I too am an adoptee and an adoptive parent, transracially. Thank you for sharing your experiences with both ends of the spectrum.

    And I just want to add that I had no idea there was a 'stigma' attached to adoption until I started reading up becoming an adoptive parent at age 40. Imagine! Growing up adopted and not knowing I was supposed to feel stigmatized! Must be the great work of my parents. :)

    Brenda

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  4. Brenda,

    Thanks for your comment! I had the same experience. I didn't start feeling 'weird' about being adopted until preparing to adopt our boys. It was also then that I began to hear comments about adoption that were really hurtful. Thank goodness I had no idea! Sounds like we both had awesome parents. Lucky us.

    Alison

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