My guest blogger today is Jenny Hornsby Morgan, a fellow Kaz adoptive mom (she actually met Dylan at the Delphin Baby House before we did!) who recently completed the adoption of her third child from Russia just a short time before Russia imposed the ban on U.S. adoptions. She originally wrote this entry for her own personal blog. I am reprinting it here with her permission. Enjoy!
I am sure you’ve heard the news that Russian president Vladimir Putin has banned U.S. adoptions of Russian children. Needless to say, this decision deeply saddens me for all the children and families involved. What also upsets me, though, are the many callous remarks I’ve heard and seen written in response.
Here’s one of my favorites: “Good! Why don’t these families just adopt American kids?”
Why don’t you, anonymous commenter?
Why didn’t we? [My husband] John and I are frequently asked to defend our decision to adopt internationally. Even strangers demand an explanation, as if it’s any of their business. Just the other day, my dad’s former coworker emailed these questions: “Why international adoption? Is there a lack of U.S. kids?”
It wasn’t that the U.S. ran out of kids so we had to go find one elsewhere. There are kids here available for adoption. They, like ALL children, deserve loving families. That's the short answer.
And here’s a much longer answer if you really need one.
When I look at my daughter R, I see both the child she is – a strong, secure, loving, happy five-year-old – and the child she was. When John and I met her, she was weak, detached, and extremely delayed. Every day for six weeks, we visited her in the baby house, and she was always in one of three places: dangling listlessly from the ceiling in a Johnny Jump Up, sitting in a walker raised too high for her feet to touch the floor, or lying in a play pen with two other kids and no toys. All but the two hours a day we visited R spent staring blankly at the walls which confined her. Amazingly, during our stay in Kazakhstan, the tiny child who could at first barely support her head learned to sit and scoot and roll. A spark replaced an empty gaze. Coos and babbles broke the deafening silence. And R smiled.
All of our lives were forever changed. John and I knew that we had so much more to give and to gain, so we decided to adopt again. We wanted R to have a sibling with whom to share not only a similar adoption experience but also an ethnic and cultural identity. So, in May of 2011, we started the process to bring home another Romani (Gypsy) child, this time from Russia. It so happened that there were no Romani children available for adoption in St. Petersburg at the time of our registration, so were referred to an Uzbek child, whom we are thrilled to now call our daughter.
That doesn’t answer the question of why we chose to adopt internationally the first time around, so let me back up…
As a kid, I never understood how my parents could watch things as boring as the news and the history channel. I paid little mind to the background noises and images and went on with my own much more interesting business. However, when I was about twelve years old, something grabbed my attention and never let go.
I saw children, caged and naked, lying in their own feces and urine. I saw the emaciated faces of neglected babies who spent their days confined to metal cribs. And in those children’s vacant eyes, I saw my child.
My life’s main ambition was to become a mother, and I somehow knew that I would become a mother to one of these. Sure, I was aware that there were children in the US available for adoption, but I recognized that America’s children would grow up in a land of great and equal opportunity and in home environments, not in the deplorable institutions I’d seen exposed. Perhaps I was a bit naïve about our own system, but I was burdened for orphans whose futures were so certainly bleak.
I can’t explain exactly how it happened, but the vision of a little girl with brown skin, brown hair, and big, beautiful brown eyes was etched onto my heart. Where would I find her? Romania? India? I wasn’t quite sure. For years, I dreamed of her. But it would be many more years before I’d see her in person.
John and I discussed adoption before we were ever married, but it wasn’t until 2006 that we started the process. We only researched international adoption agencies with India programs because we felt strongly about adopting from there. Unfortunately, a year into the process, we were devastated to learn that the state from which we were adopting had closed its doors to non-Indian families. We grieved the loss of a child we had loved but never known.
Several months later, we found ourselves nervously sitting in the Dolphin Baby House in Kostanai, Kazakhstan awaiting the blind referral of a child. Suddenly, eight-month-old R was carried into the room and placed on my lap, and I immediately recognized her as my child. I remember glancing at our translator as she noted R’s ethnicity: Gypsy. We were expecting to meet a Kazakh or Russian child, but there sat a child whose ethnicity is rooted and India and is shared with so many of the Romanian orphans who’d captured my attention years before. It seemed providential that we would travel to Kazakhstan to find the child we already knew – the very one we thought we’d lost.
Perhaps my heart was prepared for this particular child, and John and I simply followed its promptings along a path that led to her. Maybe that’s why we chose international adoption.
We're so glad we did.
And we're so glad we did again.
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