Most adoptions from China now are of special-needs children, versus the girl infant that most of us probably think of.
There’s lots of reasons for this. The government has loosened the one-child policy that led to girls being abandoned and eventually adopted out to foreigners. Also, there’s been a growing demand for domestic adoption within China, making fewer healthy infants available for international adoption. And the wait for adopting internationally from China used to be about year — now, it’s stretched to four.
Meanwhile, the number of special needs kids available for adoption has grown. Part of that is a rise in birth defects. According to the AP story linked, they’ve jumped by 50 percent between 2001 and 2006. Some parents believe, still, that a baby with a deformity will bring them bad luck. And sadly, some families can’t afford medical care and so abandon their babies, knowing that they’ll get medical care within the orphanage system.
A friend of mine just celebrated the one-year anniversary of meeting their second child, a little boy. They’d been enduring the looonnnng wait for a girl and dealing with some agency shenanigans when she started thinking about a special needs adoption. She saw her now-son’s picture on a “waiting child” list, fell in love, and a little over a year later they were traveling with their seven-year-old biological daughter to get him. And yes, I asked her the same question some of you are likely thinking — why not adopt a waiting child here? she explained that here, a child’s disability often has to be pretty severe for them to not be adopted. In China, waiting children frequently have very correctable and minor issues, such as cleft palate (which my friend’s son had, and is now doing fine).
While adopting a special needs child from China might be faster, and can allow these children access to medical interventions they’d be unlikely to get at home, it’s still something families should think long and hard about, says Susan Moore, who adopted a daughter with spina bifida and hydrocephalus in 2007. “Don’t make a decision because you’re falling in love with a picture and you want that beautiful face looking up at you at the end of the day,” Susan said. “You have to put the effort in, do your research, and know that not every day is going to be as good as the other days.” Still, they seem happy with their decision, and I know my friend and her family are very much so. She said, when I asked her if she wanted to make a comment for this post, that they’d do it again in a heartbeat. And looking at them with their well-loved children and seeing how quickly their little boy bonded to them, I can see that that’s true.
Photo: The Associated Press