Your head and your heart have to work together when choosing a country from which to adopt. The intangibles have to be factored in as well. For instance, your interest, love, or connection to a particular country is important, because once you adopt a child your family will have a permanent connection to his birth country. As your child ages, you will likely read folktales from that country, make yearly presentations on that country to his class, and learn to cook traditional dishes from that country.
Why we chose Ethiopia is a hard question to answer. Honestly, our decision was strictly a heart decision. We knew we were ready for another child and felt drawn to Ethiopia. After much prayer and discussion, we simply knew our child was waiting for us in Ethiopia. However, for those who are more systematic in their approach to choosing a country, there are many logical reasons to choose Ethiopia: the tremendous need (there are an estimated 3 to 5 million orphans), the relatively short wait time (from submitting paperwork to having him home took four months), and the relatively reasonable cost. The children are largely well cared for and loved in their families and communities before tragedy brings them to an orphanage, and the quality of care in the orphanage is quite good, so they are much less likely to have significant attachment issues. The availability of infants and young toddlers is another plus.
We like to travel to South and Central America, so we first considered Guatemala since it is the largest placing country from that part of the world. This may sound weird, but what eventually turned me off is the Guatemalan way of doing adoption. It just feels very money driven. We have decided on a less popular country—Peru—for a couple of reasons. What tipped the scales for us was that we really liked the idea of traveling to Peru. Also, agencies and adoptive parents have told us that they really try to match the parent and the child. Peru is a surprising choice, since we are not generally “the road less traveled” kind of people, but it feels right.
Choose your country carefully, but remember that the odds of a successful adoption are in your favor. Most children adopted internationally are thriving, succeeding behaviorally, academically, and socially. Adoption does have risks, but so do most things in life. The key is knowing how much risk you are willing to take and preparing yourself beforehand.
Note: Information on adopting from the top 17 countries that place children with U.S. families (China, Russia, Guatemala, South Korea, Ukraine, Kazakhstan, Ethiopia, India, Colombia, Philippines, Haiti, Liberia, Taiwan, Mexico, Poland, Thailand, Vietnam) is available in The Complete Book of International Adoption by Dawn Davenport (Broadway Books, 2006), with updates posted on www.findingyourchild.com.
Adapted from the book The Complete Book of International Adoption by Dawn Davenport, published by Broadway Books, a division of Random House, Inc. Reprinted with permission.
This story was originally published in the Winter 2006 issue of Conceive Magazine.
Related Topics: Adoption
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