Adoptive Families Blog

Our International Adoption and Dreams of Open Adoption

Posted by Heidi Keefer on December 8, 2016

red thread-1.jpg "An invisible red thread connects those who are destined to meet, regardless of time, place, or circumstance. The thread may stretch or tangle, but it will never break."

-Ancient Chinese Belief

Last week, I had the pleasure of hearing from one of Lifetime’s staff members, Diana. She and her husband adopted a baby girl from China in June of 2006.

Diana’s position with Lifetime involves adoption outreach and education. She shares, “the reason that I was so attracted to Lifetime and to domestic adoption was because of the ability to have a relationship with the birth mother and to have the first part of your child’s story to share with them. With my family’s situation, we don’t have much information to share with our daughter about her story.”

Diana became involved in domestic adoption when she went back to school and did an internship at a pregnancy resource center. During the training, Heather and Libby from Lifetime came in to teach a unit on adoption.  “I fell in love with Lifetime during the training!” Diana exclaims.

How did your journey to adopt your daughter begin?

“After having two children, we had secondary infertility. We tried one round of fertility treatment and I had a bad reaction to it. I asked “can we adopt?” and my husband said yes so it was a very easy decision for us.

My husband is Indian. So, at first we thought adopting from India would be the logical choice because we’d be able to help an Indian child understand their culture and history. The door too India was shut quickly due to difficulties with Indian adoptions. We never even considered domestic adoption because we didn't think a birth mother would want a couple who already had two kids. Then, we went to an adoption seminar and it became very clear that God was showing us we were supposed to adopt from China.”

How long was your adoption wait?

“It was supposed to be nine months but it took almost two years. We were the first group when adoptions from China started slowing down, and wait times increased. Having the longer wait time was truly a blessing, though. During this time we moved, and I had mono. God really had us covered with that two year wait!”

How old was your daughter when you adopted her?

“We received our referral and a picture when she was 10 months old. Once we were allowed to make our trip to China, she was around 12 months old. I was concerned because I thought she’d be independent and too big to carry. Carrying the baby around is a tool used in international adoptions to promote bonding.  She was the oldest baby in our adoption group but ended up being the smallest at 15 pounds! I firmly believe that God matched her with the family she needed. She was the only baby who was inconsolable in our group and wanted nothing to do with my husband.  Being experienced parents we were not phased and were able to meet her needs on her terms.  We thanked God for His choice—first time parents may have felt overwhelmed with her initial needs.” 

What are your thoughts on open adoption?

“I wish that we could have an open adoption, because we don’t have the information we’d like to share with her. I never thought about needing or wanting that. I thought about cultural things to do to help her connect. But, I can’t tell her who her tummy mommy is. When we tell her about her adoption story, we’ve always been honest at the appropriate age level. 

We remind our daughter of the red thread proverb, and that it signifies that she’s tied together to us and to China.

I think it's important to be as honest as you can about adoption with your child. If we are open and act like it's no big deal, then it just becomes part of the child’s life story. For us, we've been lucky to find other adoptive couples who’ve adopted from China. So our daughter has others with similar life stories who are now friends!

From an early age, my daughter recognized she did not look like either my husband or myself. If she saw a photo of a Chinese baby, she’d ask ‘Is that me?’ And once when she was around two years old, she saw a Chinese woman walk by and asked ‘Is that my tummy-mommy?’

For me, the biggest thing that I wish for is that I had more information to share with her about her story and about her birth mother, like adoptive parents do in domestic open adoptions. We have very little information, other than she was extremely loved because her birth mother chose to give her life. She hid her pregnancy and fought against having an abortion, which was sometimes forced in China. Our daughter was with her birth mother for 19 days. She was found in front of an orphanage gate with a red piece of paper that had her lunar birthday and Western birthday listed, because if it was discovered whose baby it was, her birth mother would get into trouble. How do we explain it's a loving choice to be abandoned? It’s difficult for a child to understand.”

What reactions did your other children have of her?

“Our son and daughter were nine and seven when we brought her home. There was never any weirdness. Adoption just is. It’s never been a big thing to in our family; adoption was just the way we were going to complete our family. We love our rainbow family!”

In conclusion…

“There’s no question in my mind that she's meant to be in our family! She’s so loved and essential to our family: she completed it!

I’m attracted to a domestic open adoption because of that ability to have a relationship with your child’s birth mother! I encourage adoptive couples to choose an open adoption relationship with their child’s birth mother. That way, they’re able to give answers to questions their child will eventually ask.

We share with our daughter that her birth mother made the choice she did out of love. We point out to our daughter that her birth mother had a choice; she could have had an abortion. But, she loved her and decided to give her life. Every year on our daughter’s birthday, I say a prayer that her birth mother knows her daughter is doing well, and is so loved and happy!”

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Topics: Open Adoption, adoption stories, International adoption, Adoption story, China adoptions, adopting from China