Monday, November 26, 2012

National Adoption Month {Guest post!}

Before November is through, I wanted to recognize National Adoption Month.  When I was young, my mom worked for an international adoption agency for the China department.  Since then, hearing stories of families working so hard to adopt babies who so desperately needed a home, I have had great respect for families who come together through adoption.  A number of our good friends have adopted children internationally as expats and I asked one of them to write about their experience.  Krista and her husband Frank have 2 beautiful girls; they have been blogging about all the great activities and ways they are honoring National Adoption Month over here.  Enjoy!

My husband and I are international educators living in Taiwan. When asked to write this guest post from a former coworker and current amazing friend, I was beyond honored. November is a special month in the McGowan household; it’s a time when we honor adoption, our two beautiful girls, and the amazing natural families who made our dream come true. Adoption for us wasn’t out of necessity, it was a choice we made, my husband and I--together. This choice came with it’s ups and downs, as all choices do.

Our story is perhaps a bit different from many adoption stories in that we wanted a private adoption in a foreign country. Navigating through the legal hurdles and obstacles was mind numbing. We finally discovered all we had to do was get a baby, then deal with the legal stuff later. Easy right? Well, that’s where things became difficult. I’ve written about some of the bumps and bruises we experienced along with way on our blog Taichung Teachers.

Adopting in a foreign country is not for the faint of heart. We were 100% dependent on local friends, translators and hope that everything was going smoothly. We spent thousands of dollars translating documents into Chinese and then Chinese documents into English. As court dates drew nearer, we were met with list after list of new documents needed by the Taiwanese courts. These documents were not always accessible. For instance in Taiwan, all nationals are registered to a household and our adoptive girls needed to be registered as well. The problem was, we aren’t Taiwanese nationals and therefore could not have anyone registered to us. The solution by the Taiwanese officials, “just have a friend register the girls under them.” The courts also required we show them our US household registration-which of course we don’t have because there are no household registration cards in the US. This idea was completely foreign to the courts and caused us quite a bit of stress as initially, they were unwilling to bend.

All of these things were problematic, but would have been accepted more positively had all our friends who have adopted gone through the same process. The problem is, every single case required different paperwork. It was as if the judge pulled out of a hat which paper she needed on any given day.

In honor of National Adoption Awareness Month, we thought we would finalize our adoptions at home in the good ole U-S-A. We found a lawyer to deal with the re-adoption end and then the search was on to find a lawyer to help us with the citizenship end of things. This is where we hit a wall. Being expats with no desire to head home any time soon, we fall into a grey area. If we wait two years, no problem. If we want it done immediately, major problem. We have to start from scratch with a US home visit and go forward from there.

Adopting abroad has been difficult at times, but worth the struggle. Adopting has been the single best thing I have ever done in my life. However, I’ve found there are little to no resources available for our type of situation (one that I am planning on rectifying as soon as possible). Adopting abroad has expanded my world view beyond what I expected was possible. I now see immigration differently and have been frustrated with my government’s lack of acknowledgement of my children.

With that said, I have found that the greater adoption community is beyond supportive and our friends have stood by us throughout the whole process. At the end of all this struggle, we have been blessed with two darling little girls. Due to the way we did our adoptions, we walked out of the hospital with our girls being 1 day old and 2 days old. This probably wouldn’t have happened for us back home.

We have a rainbow family and one we are incredibly proud of and honored that we were chosen to raise these little monkeys. I don’t refer to myself as an adoptive mother, or my children as adopted children-we are a family built on love. Every night my husband and I read the girls a story, tuck them into beds and kiss them goodnight-just like every other family. Every morning we are greeted with peels of laughter and monster hugs. Whatever difficulties we have experienced become quickly melted away when our little girls look at us and give us big ole cheesy grins. At the end of the day, we are parents, they are our children and we are a family.

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