I was watching the news this morning and the Today show said absolutely nothing about a headline I found startling: China lifts one child policy amid worries of graying population. What startled me about the story is that the word "adoption" is not mentioned even once. The one child policy implemented by China in 1980 is the reason why there have been so many female babies available for adoption in that country. Families generally choose to keep male babies and give away females.
Now couples in China can legally have two children.
I have a neighbor who adopted her daughter from China, after about 4 years of waiting. It's not a fast process but it's fairly reliable. I have several friends and one distant cousin who have all adopted from China. I have one friend who adopted a little boy from China who is missing his hand, a congenital defect.These children are loved, cared for just as though they were biological children, and they have chances they would never have had in China. Yet, they will grieve for their lost birth families for the rest of their lives.
The part they missed, the part that's so interesting to me, as it would be to most mothers, is this: hopefully this will cut down on the number of abandoned babies in China. So many of my friends and folks I know who have adopted from China had children who were left at police stations, on street corners, in parks. These babies usually go to orphanages but there is no way for them to ever find their birth families, or it's highly unlikely. My kids were removed from neglectful and abusive birth homes but there IS information, should they every choose to return to their birth countries and search for their birth families. There are names.Conversations are possible.
The emotional cost to Chinese-American children of being abandoned, is very high.
Separating a baby from its mother causes anxiety and stress that can be felt even by a newborn. Then being put into an overcrowded institution, warehoused essentially, without real love or bonding, exacts an even higher toll on a child. According to International Adoption Stories these are common feelings in adopted children:
“ Why did my birthmother offer me for adoption?”
“ How would life have been different if I wasn’t adopted?”
“ Where is my birthmother now?”
“ Why couldn’t my adoptive parents have just been my birthparents?”
"Most adoptees struggle with these questions several times throughout their lives. The first time is often when they just become old enough to understand the concept of adoption. They often think about these issues throughout their teen years and again each time a life changing event occurs."
Add to that the facts that most Chinese babies abandoned are female, or if they are male they have some medical condition, and you really begin to see the effects on the development of these children.
The sad fact is there are many male babies and children available for adoption in China but they are always "special needs." Many of them have congenital birth defects. I was on a Yahoo group for years, for people who have adopted children with limb differences, and 99% of all the parents there adopted from China. That culture feels like a child missing an arm or foot, or even a few fingers, is defective and brings bad luck. In traditional Asian cultures, the idea that handicapped people can lead full lives is not really accepted, or even considered.
It's hard for people outside the adoption world to really understand the deep feelings of abandonment and rejection experienced by Chinese orphans because in most cases, our parents wanted us and we were loved and nurtured. The wounds of that initial abandonment run very deep, however, and if not addressed and processed properly can lead to lifetime issues with self-esteem, and sometimes substance abuse and relationship issues.
My own kids have struggled with these issues, even though they weren't abandoned at birth. They will always have to deal with the fact that their birthmoms didn't try to parent them, but let them be placed in the orphanage. Good for me, but tough to explain to a child or even an adult. Trying to explain why substance abuse creates an inability to care for others is really tough to do. It doesn't really help to heal them.
China is still a communist country. Oftentimes that is forgotten by the rest of the world, even by journalists. That means the individual has no rights all. The rights are in the hands of the state. The individual exists to serve the state. That philosophy even reaches into the very private decision of how many children to have.
I will be interested to see how the change in policy affects international adoption.
I hope and pray for all the children adopted from China who have suffered due to the one child policy. I pray for healing for all concerned who have suffered - the mothers who felt they had no choice but to abandon their children, and the children. I also pray that American parents seeking to adopt will be able to find the right children to complete their families, whether from China or somewhere else.