Form a Family or Save a Child?

 March 4, 2011

This post is written in response to an article written on China Adopt Talk titled Aging Out in an Orphanage.  I started out writing a comment on her blog but it got long and then I worried she wouldn't publish it anyway.
If you didn't read the whole article basically the theme was, prospective parents should not and in fact are not "saving" orphans when they adopt a child from China because if THEY didn't adopt the child, someone else would.

Not sure I get the logic.


No it does not solve the root causes that have created the orphan epedemic but there is no arguement that once a kid is orphaned adoption is the cure.

I think what she really means is "saving" children is a improper motivation for a person to choose adoption, (she even goes so far as to suggest it is a primary cause of disrupted adoptions. It's not.). According to RQ the only acceptable motive to adopt is to "form your family".

But what if both motivations, forming a family and saving an orphan are present?

I already feel the flames coming so let me say right now that I understand the concern about the potentially negative impact on children who grow up to view themselves as charity cases needing to be "saved".

It is valid.

I am sensitive to that and I agree we need to be hyper protective of our kid's self esteem.

But there is a difference between my personal motivation to adopt and how I discuss adoption with our children.

I wanted to grow (form) my family and in the process I "saved" a child.

That worked for me.

I had three biological sons. I could still get pregnant. I chose to adopt.

My personal rational was I wanted to parent daughters. And, I didn't like being pregnant. AND I felt good about parenting a child who really needed me.

So I grew my family through adoption and in the process I most certainly "saved" my daughters from a bleak existence.

And that fact is not lost on me as I contemplate a third adoption. 

Would someone else have adopted my girls? 


Maybe not.

Are you willing to play that sort of roulette with your children?

Besides just because someone else MIGHT have adopted (saved) my girls doesn't change the fact that I did. I'm not putting on the “we did save her crown" and I need no accolade or prize beyond the joy of being their mom. I'm just keeping it real.

Personally I don't think many people adopt to "save" children without primarily wanting to grow their families.  There are simply too many other ways to help the plight of orphans if "saving" is the only motive.

And I don't believe that just because "saving a child" was part of my motivation to adopt that I am a lesser parent or I have undermined the strength of my family in some way.

And thank goodness for these "save the children" people that RQ is so offended by. I say we need more of them!

Because while currently there seems to be a long line of potential adoptive parents in China,

The "competition" to adopt waiting children in China wasn't always the case.  Not long ago these kids would remain in orphanages or be rejected by adoptive parents for the most minor of imperfections.

I wonder how many of us would still be in line if all those who are motivated by "saving" a child stepped out of queue?

How much competition to adopt SN babies in China would there be then?

And while China is the focus here, let's not forget that there are 143,000,000 orphans in the world (the US foster care system included) and not nearly enough families (of any motivate) willing to adopt.

I cast no judgment on anyone wanting to adopt a child from any program, anywhere.

In my book "saving" an orphan (if that is the perception) is noble not narcissistic.

As far as I'm concerned if your motive stems from; your faith, humanitarianism, infertility, desire for a specific gender, or plain ole longing to parent then God bless you!  There is a kid out there who needs you.

And whether you feel like you saved a child or not,  I promise, YOU will be saved in the process.

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