16 February 2005

International versus Domestic Adoption

Adoption is a topic that comes up a lot in a variety of different settings. I think I've mentioned before that we are looking into international adoption and have been for nearly two years.

We chose international adoption for a variety of reasons. In fact, we didn't even consider domestic adoption. We've had several very good friends who have adopted domestically, and we think that is a very good option too. One couple adopted from foster care and obviously made a huge difference in their daughter's life.

I agree that domestic adoption is a very good option. There are many children in the United States that need homes. However, I have never heard someone criticized for choosing to adopt domestically (instead of internationally) and I have heard (and we ourselves have experienced it) people say that it is wrong to go international when there are so many children here that need to be adopted.

I cannot understand this. I cannot see why it is better to adopt a child from foster care than from an orphanage.

In Kazakhstan, for example, children are generally well cared for as infants and young children. However, when they are teenagers, they are sent to different orphanages that have many problems. When they turn 18, they are given a small some of money (around $200) and sent off. They don't have much education or many skills. You can imagine the kind of life that is ahead of them. Many turn to prostitution and crime simply to survive.

Certainly children who spend their entire childhoods in foster care often have a difficult time surviving themselves. But still, the United States has other systems to help them after they are grown- welfare, student loans, Medicare. I cannot think that they are worse off than orphans living in foreign countries.

I have been in orphanages and refugee camps in the Middle East. I have been involved in foster care- my grandmother fostered several children and many of my friends and neighbors have fostered children. I know that foster care has many problems. But I don't think anyone could convince me that, overall, foster care is worse than an orphanage.

Can't we just be happy that a child- any child- has been adopted and is in a much better place?


  1. My concern would be keeping the child's heritage intact. Do you know the first thing about how Kazakhis raise kids? Would you just raise the child as some average idiotic American? Or would you let him/her retain some of his/her culture? But HOW would you do that?

    Are we really that much better off here in America? Doesn't that seem a bit egotistical to assert- everywhere else in the world sucks so we should raise as many kids American as possible?

    I guess Kazakhstan just isn't good enough.

  2. I don't think I said that it is better for a child to be raised in America instead of any other country. What I think is that it is better for a child to be raised in a *home* instead of an *orphanage.* I fully support the laws in Central Asia that require that children be available for domestic adoption before international adoption. The problem is that they are *not* adopted.

    We actually have chosen to adopt from Central Asia because we are more familiar with the culture there than most places in the world. We are hoping to move to Kyrgyzstan soon. We have several good friends from Uzbekistan. We have been learning Uzbek (which is closely related to all the Turkic languages) for several years. We also have several Mongolian friends.

    I guess I flatter myself to think we're not just idiotic Americans.

    I almost just deleted the previous comment (based on his charming profile), but I did want to respond to it.