It’s Like a Foreign Country

July 19, 2006 at 12:20pm By: Mr. Wilson Posted in 625 Elm Street

International adoption is so common these days that many people seem shocked that we adopted domestically. A typical conversation goes a little like this:

Person: He’s so cute! Where did you adopt him from?
Me: Boston.
Person: No, I mean which country was he born in?
Me: The United States.
Person: ... Really?

I don’t think folks mean to be so surprised. They are just so accustomed to children being adopted from Russia or China or, thanks to Angelina Jolie, Ethiopia. And indeed international adoption is almost the default these days. Some people do it because it is easier for them. (Older couples are welcomed by some countries, for example.) Some people do it because they are afraid of open adoption. (International adoptions are almost always closed.) Some people do it because they want a white baby. (Russia is popular for that reason.) Some even do it because they feel like the act of adoption from some countries is tantamount to offering humanitarian aid. And there are, of course, dozens of other reasons that motivate folks to adopt internationally.

The Missus and I are in no position to question anybody’s motives since we stated very clearly from the beginning that some of our motivations were very selfish. Still, it’s sad to me that more people aren’t willing to adopt domestically. I wonder why not? I suspect fear—fear of legal hurdles, fear of a birth parent changing his/her mind, fear of the child seeking and finding his birth family and establishing a relationship—plays a big role. Some of the fears are no doubt legitimate, but most are probably not. I know I began with a bunch of fears. Some of them could still happen. But so far all of my fears turned out to be rubbish.

In any event, Robert is all American, born in the U.S.A. But I’ll be honest, having spent almost two weeks in Boston, it’s a lot like a foreign country. They speak funny, they drive funny, and they eat a lot of fish. To this midwestern boy that practically makes ‘em European!

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