Monday, May 29, 2006

Why another kid? Why adopt? Why China?

I guess we are a little unusual in that we have chosen to adopt after having two biological children. For me, it was never really a question of “if” we would adopt a daughter from China, but “when?” I truly feel it's something I was meant to do.

In 1984, when I was a Senior in high school, my U.S. Government teacher did a unit on Communism. During that unit, we watched a film about China’s one-child policy. The film explained the large population in China, and the government’s decision to limit population growth by allowing each couple only one child. The film went on to explain that the Chinese preferred boys, because boys took care of their parents as they aged and carried on the family name. As a result, girls were being abandoned by their parents in large numbers. There was lots of footage of these beautiful, healthy baby girls living in orphanages. The film must have mentioned Americans adopting the babies, because I remember saying to my friend Diane that someday I would adopt one of those babies.

Fast forward 12 years to 1996. I had a chance to travel to Hong Kong with a friend. It was a whirlwind trip, which lasted only about 5 days; two of which were spent traveling. When we boarded the plane to return home, we noticed several Americans traveling with Chinese babies. During a layover in Seattle, we spoke with one new mom. She explained she had adopted her baby in China, and that there were 13 Chinese babies on our flight--all girls adopted by Americans!! When we stopped in Detroit, we happened to get off the plane behind this same woman. We watched as she and her new daughter were greeted by her husband, an older child, and several other family members and friends, all of them crying and hugging. I couldn’t help but cry with them. Their joy was contagious. For the second time in my life, I thought, “Someday I am going to adopt one of those babies.”

Then in 2000, when I was pregnant with Katie, our friend Mark came home from China with his new daughter. We met her the same week they arrived home. She was 11 months old, and gorgeous. I watched as she clung to her new mom, and my heart went out to her, thinking of all she had gone through in her short life.

The following year our friends Ruth Ann and Carey traveled to China, with their 6 and 8 year old daughters, to meet their adorable 5-year old daughter. Ruth Ann sent these amazing e-mails from China. She described every detail of their experience--good and bad. As I read them, I dreamed of making the trip with my family someday.

When Katie was about three years old, I started talking seriously to Jerry about a third child. Jerry didn't want to hear it. He was happy with the two we had. He didn't see the need for any more. Jerry’s arguments against a third child were logical: We had a boy and a girl. They were just starting to get more independent (i.e. easier). We didn’t have any more bedrooms. Things were expensive enough with two kids, much less three. I agreed with everything he said. Yet it didn’t matter, I wanted another child. There was nothing logical about it, and I couldn’t make any good arguments in favor of my position. As the year went on, I mentioned a third child frequently, but Jerry was not moved. At some point, I started to give up on the idea.

Let me add here, that I really had no desire to give birth to another child. I would not trade the experience of pregnancy and childbirth for anything, but between morning sickness (which was 24-7 ) duirng the first trimester, and preterm labor during the last trimester, pregnancy wasn't exactly a picnic for me. Plus, as I got older, I knew it would only get tougher.

On Valentine’s Day 2005, Jerry asked his parents to baby-sit, and we went out to dinner. As we were sitting there, he shocked me by announcing he was ready to have another child. It really didn’t compute at first. He kept talking: He thought it would be nice to adopt a child who was at least a year old; he didn't want me to go through another pregnancy again, and the early infancy stage was kind of a pain. I felt giddy. I think I asked him a few times if he was serious, and if he was sure. He repeated that he was. “Then we’re going to China,” I said.

We began the "paper chase" the very next day. I had already been looking at adoption agencies online. We selected Great Wall fairly quickly. I made it my goal to do one thing concerning the adoption each day, until we completed all of the paperwork. And as they say, the rest is history.


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