...and other misconceptions I made 08-01-20
2008 Jan 20

Archive for the 'adoption-process' Category

February 5th 2007
Eating my words…

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I posted about the new CCAA “rules” a month ago. And I didn’t mean any harm, and I didn’t mean to hurt anyone.

Since then I have continued to read a number of blogs from adoptive parents and expecting adoptive parents. And I have received a small number of emails on the topic. And I have felt pretty bad about one aspect of what I said. Increasingly so.

The intentions may have be good. Sitting here, as a healthy person who never was drunk in his life (yeah, call me names… I can handle it), it is easy to pass judgment. But once I got off my high horse I started to realize that the real world out there is a wee bit more complicated.

People battle depression. Whether it is brought on by the fight against infertility. Or by simply the amount of pain and problems that is piling up in your life. Triggered by the lack of sleep after adding a child or two to your life – and the feeling of failing at the most important thing you ever wanted to do, being a parent. Or by a million of other potential issues.

And people battle alcoholism. Good people. Great parents. People who are winning the fight.

My posting was brushing this off talking about the “small time window” that the CCAA appears to be looking at. Ignoring the fear that this strikes in people. Ignoring the fact that some of these people are in the middle of the process and suddenly fear that they can’t continue on the path that they are on. In one case a mother of a daughter from China suddenly had to realize that the sister that she wanted for her daughter will not be from China. This may sound trivial to some of you. Especially those who haven’t adopted – don’t repeat my mistake. This is not easy on people. Not at all.

To anyone who was hurt by my words, I am sorry. I think I now understand much better that this is an even more complicated problem than I thought; one that is very personal and has a huge impact on many people; and one that doesn’t have an easy answer.

January 3rd 2007
The new CCAA “rules”

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I am amazed just how much the mainstream media is reporting on this one. Normally their attention doesn’t seem to focus on difficult topics like adoption. Maybe Madonna changed that a little. And so we’ve seen reports from outlets as diverse as CNN to USA Today, the Wall Street Journal to talk radio. Sadly, it seems that all the reports that I have seen get some aspects of what has happened rather wrong. And that even includes NPR – maybe my most trusted source for information – in their little piece this week on All Things Considered.

First and foremost, the Ministry of Civil Affairs seems to have made it very clear that these new “rules” are actually not set in stone, but describe criteria under which they will give “preference to more suitable applicants” (their words, not mine). And therefore they are not hard rules; they are guidelines for preference.

And for all the politics and emotions wrapped up in this – if you step back for a moment, this seems to make some sense. Let’s go through the highlights real quick:

  • BMI under 40. An average height woman (5’5″ – 165cm) with a BMI of 40 weighs 240 pounds (109kg). The medical term for this is “morbidly obese”. I can understand having some concern about this, given my experience over the past 16 months. Caring for a toddler is very difficult, physically demanding work, and I believe that it would be even more difficult for people who have a BMI over 40.
  • Age between 30 and 50. I’m 39 and I often wish I were younger. Yes, many of us know parents who adopted when they were older than 50. But as a first guideline and a criterion for preference, this seems to make sense.
  • A minimum length of marriage of 2 year, 5 if this isn’t your first marriage. There’s lots to be said about this. It’s intended to measure the stability of the family situation into which the child is coming. And from the point of view of a socially conservative government with the welfare of the children in mind… I can understand this.
  • No single parents. Ouch. That’s a tough one to defend. If you try to put yourself into the mind of a ministry official, maybe you can see how you’d prefer a traditional family for the children. And maybe you can’t.
  • No recent issues with mental health and depression. Also tough for many adoptive parents who have battled infertility. The way the “rule” is written, it appears to have a reasonably short time window that it looks at.

And now comes the argument that somehow everyone misses – or at least doesn’t take seriously enough in my mind. Since China joined the Hague Convention a lot more parents from many other countries are eligible to adopt from China. Yet, the total number of children available for adoption appears to be fairly stable. That means, very simply, that there are more parents applying than children available. So what does a bureaucracy do? It tries to implement rules that ensure that the best suited parents get preference when matching children. And as much as we can argue about the set of criteria I outline above, and as much as they may have to be improved and modified – this does seem like a reasonable starting point. Especially if you try to see the world through the eyes of a Chinese ministry official.

June 7th 2006
Here’s one picture I really wanted to post…

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readoption ceremony It may not be the best shot ever taken of us (the photographer was the clerk – and I am very grateful that he offered to take the picture). But it’s an important moment in the lives of H2 and S2. This is the re-adoption ceremony we did a week ago! They don’t quite seem to appreciate the importance of all this, but that’s ok – they will eventually.

May 30th 2006
Another step in the paperwork game…

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Of course the adoption was final last August. China, the US, and even Germany accept the adoption in China as permanent and binding act. That doesn’t change the fact that there is some advantage to re-adopting in Oregon (and even though as my children they are of course German citizens, there is more work to be done to get them German passports). The most obvious advantage of re-adoption in Oregon is that the girls become eligible to receive Oregon birth certificates. Which are easy to replace / get more of. And they look familiar to anyone who usually gets to see birth certificates here in the US – unlike a Chinese certificate with English translation, which is what we have today.

Long story short, as one more step (and we believe the final step, as far as the US is concerned) of the adoption process, we finalized the Oregon re-adoption of our girls today. The actual ceremony (we could have done this “by mail”, but hey, this is an important event!) was almost nonexistent – the judge was so busy telling us how cute our girls are, she at first didn’t even notice that we had forgotten to sign one form. But it was all very nice and in the end still rather touching. And Judge Waller was very motherly and caring and was obviously excited to do a re-adoption (instead of her usual, less cheerful case load).

K2 and I are happy, the girls didn’t like the waiting but then liked the attention – but of course as a consequence of the change in routine they were pretty wound up. And to make matters worse, I’m leaving to Nashville tonight (via a red-eye to Chicago – yuck!). I’m attending a conference there, before traveling to Seattle on Thursday evening for another meeting on Friday. Poor girls with their “transient” father (and poor K2 with her disappearing-act-husband…)

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