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Alleke is 5 years old

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Hi, my name is Kelly and I write about being a dad. Let me tell you more about me...

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Adoption Interview

The social worker greeted us with two kisses at the front door and showed us to her office. We sat down, folded our coats on our laps and watched as she shuffled through our paperwork before placing three pages on the desk in front of her. She studied the pages for a moment, then leaned back in her chair and smiled.

“Now, tell me, why do you want to adopt a child from another country?” she asked.

April and I looked at each other.

“Well,” I said, starting in, “we know there are lots of kids that don’t have families, and we are willing to be their family.”

“Kelly, stop right there,” the social worker said, and held up her hand.

She turned over one of the pages sitting in front of her and picked up a pen. She looked me in the eyes.

“We need to get a few things straight,” she said.

She drew a large triangle in the middle of the page. Inside the triangle at the bottom she wrote in capital letters, EXTENDED FAMILY.

“Most children who cannot be cared for by their parents live with a close relative,” she said.

She drew a line above EXTENDED FAMILY and above that line wrote down FOSTER CARE.

“In the rare case that a child is not able to live with a close relative, he is cared for by a foster family in his country.”

She drew another line and wrote down CARE FACILITY.

“If a foster family cannot be found for the child, usually because he is an older child or has a disability that requires more attention than a foster family can provide, he is put in a care facility.”

“As you can see,” the social worker said, tapping her pen at the top of the triangle, “each category is much smaller than the one that came before it.”

She drew another line and wrote down INDEPENDENT.

“A very small number of these children are simply old enough that they live on their own independently.”

The social worker bent over the page and carefully filled in the tip of the triangle, not much bigger than the size of a fingernail. There wasn’t enough room to write, so she drew an arrow and wrote the last category next to the triangle, INTERNATIONAL ADOPTION.

“According to the information you’ve given me already,” the social worker said, looking down at the papers sitting in front of her, “you want to adopt a young, healthy child from another country.”

“There are more families like you that want to adopt these children than there are children available for adoption.”

The social worker set down her pen, looked at me, and waited.

I didn’t say anything.

“Did you know that?” she asked.

I looked at April and shook my head.

For the rest of our adoption story, take a look at our Guide to International Adoption in Spain…


kate said...

Hmm, I didn’t know that, either. I’m interested to hear more about your journey into this whole process.

February 17, 2009 at 1:31 pm

Todd said...

Kelly and April,
I read your blog, but have never commented. Your post today sticks with me, however, and I feel I need to respond.

It’s hard to tell from a few lines of narrative from a blog, but I am concerned that the social worker is not presenting you with a clear picture of things.

As someone who is interested in adopting, as a pastor who has walked along side families who have adopted, and as one who has traveled overseas and seen the great need for foreign adoption, I don’t know what the social worker was trying to communicate to you.

Are you being presented with an opportunity for a special needs adoption? That’s a possibility, if you feel called and led to that. However, using the illustration you posted in your entry today, I want to challenge the idea that foster care or care facilities are to be held as equals to adoption. Many children here in the States are in foster care or in care facilities with the hope of adoptions to permanent families.

In our church, a family adopted a child from Honduras, and a year later was contacted to ask if they would consider adopting another child. While only anecdotal in proof, I struggle with the idea of social worker confronting you with a “supply and demand” comment seeming discouraging you in your considering to to adopt a “young, healthy child from another country.”

Of course, you know your situation and what God is calling you to much better than I do. However, adoption–both foreign and domestic–is close to my heart, and I am troubled and wondering what the motivation of this social worker was to say something like this.

February 17, 2009 at 8:52 pm

Megan said...

My grandparents have a story very like yours and thats from the 1950′s in New Zealand.
The worker said that there were no orphans in NZ as there is always family. There are plenty of children who need care but if someone in the ‘family’ who could not care for the child now but in the future wanted that child then my grandparents would have to give them back.
Pretty hard to put so much into someones life with the chance that they could be taken away.
My grandparents did not in the end and Dad is an only child with a very full life.

I have heard that international adoption is very hard and only know of one family here who has done it and that child was at least 10-12 years old and she was from an orphanage in some War torn country???sorry can’t remmeber which but it was probaly 10-15 years ago.

February 18, 2009 at 5:55 am

spain dad said...

Kate, Todd and Megan, I’ve appreciated your comments so far, and I definitely welcome anyone else to this conversation who has something to say.

It’s been six days since this adoption interview. April and I still want to adopt, but we are taking the time to consider whether there is a need for us to adopt a young, healthy child from another country, or if we need even more time to educate ourselves and learn more about other options that might, in the end, be more ethical and helpful in the long run. We’re just not sure yet.

I’ve been thinking a lot about an adoption article I read over the weekend in Foreign Policy called The Lie We Love. If you choose to read it, I would encourage you to read all the way to the end.

More soon…

February 18, 2009 at 7:41 am

Cara DeHaan said...

Kelly (and April),
Thank you for choosing to share your journey towards adoption online. After reading your post, other readers’ comments, and the Foreign Policy article, I am troubled and confused along with you. I look forward to hearing more. I’m praying for you….

February 18, 2009 at 5:32 pm

Sandra77 said...

I am hardly an expert on international adoptions, but coming from a third world country, I know there are LOTS of children available for adoption in such countries. The social worker painted things with a very broad brush, but doesn’t it depend on what country you are looking to adopt from? Just my 2 cents.

February 19, 2009 at 6:47 pm

spain dad said...

Hey Sandra. I am not an expert either, so I can only share with you what I’ve been learning so far…

I don’t think the social worker wanted to give the impression that there are not children available for adoption. There are plenty of older children and children with disabilities that are waiting to be adopted. There are also younger children, but again, there are already enough families waiting to adopt these children.

In Spain we are only allowed to adopt a child that is younger than Alleke, and she’s two years old, which means we would have to adopt a child that is two yrs or younger. It usually takes 1-2 years for a country to rule out all the other options (like finding a relative, looking for a foster family, etc.) before putting a child up for international adoption.

This means two things for us: we are very limited in the number of children we could even possibly adopt because few children are even available for adoption under the age of two, and secondly, there are many more families than children that are already waiting to adopt these young, healthy children.

It’s also worth noting that there are many children who live in poverty in developing countries that do have parents, so while they might live under difficult conditions (they might even live in the streets), since they do have families they are not in the foster care or adoption system.

If someone knows more than me about these issues, however, please speak up…I would love to hear what you have to say.

February 19, 2009 at 7:24 pm

Mrs. T said...

Last summer I took a class called “Spain in the 21st Century”, in which we learned all kinds of things about the social structure and demographics of Spain. One thing that stuck in my mind was that currently, Spain has one of the lowest birth rates of any country (at least in the European Union). I think it may be a combination of people choosing not to have children and not being physically able to do so, or couples waiting until they are older and more financially secure only to find out they are unable to. So, it may very well be true that in Spain right now, there are more families wanting children than there are children available.
I know several families here in the US who have adopted children from foreign countries and it is a long, expensive process. However, it does seem to me that the Spanish social worker you spoke of may be treating you and April differently solely because you are not Spanish.

March 29, 2009 at 2:42 pm


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