Sunday, October 18, 2009

Of Race and Ethnicity

Our research into adoption agencies and the adoption process is continuing. Some things are becoming very clear as we dig into the research. And some options are getting eliminated just by who we are and where we are.

We are not US citizens. We are permanent residents, and because of that, international adoption is almost ruled out for us. It’s ironical and sad that this route is so difficult for us, because as far as adopting a baby in India would go, we would be close to the top of the list of preferred adoptive parents for the orphanages and the adoption system in India. We are Indian citizens, living overseas. Most orphanages in India love that combination. However, the immigration rules for the US will not allow us to bring into the country a baby adopted internationally unless we “co-reside with the baby in the country of adoption for 2 years”.

That almost clearly eliminates the international adoption route for us. That is, unless we decide to uproot ourselves from here and go back to India, and we don’t think we can do that. Everything in life is at such a crossroad right now anyway. We want to keep as much constant as we can. So we are trying to keep our home and place of residence constant and work around available options.

As we began “interviewing” agencies and facilitators for adoption, and started asking questions, another piece of information started becoming more and more obvious. It will be almost impossible for us to be matched with a baby of Indian origin. Simply because there aren’t many Indian babies that become available for adoption.

We understand why. It’s cultural. We could get VERY lucky and get matched with an Indian baby, but chances of this actually happening are very slim. As part of our routine questions to the adoption agencies we are talking to, we always ask if they have placed any babies of Indian origin. Most have not had any Indian baby placements. One has, but the frequency has been 2 in the last 8 years. So that’s another option that we see as almost non-existent.

So not only am I having to process the loss of the biological connection, I am also having to process the loss of the ethnic / race connection. We thought it would help us if we spoke with other families that were built through transracial adoptions. Agencies are willing to refer us to families, but they are all families where the adoptive parents are Caucasian / American, and the adopted babies are ethnic. We have so far not been able to find a combination of ethnic (Indian) parents with Caucasian / American children. I had mentioned this to the hyno-therapist when I had my session with her last month. She told me to think of DH and me as pioneers in this field. She said: “If you can’t find the role models you are looking for, you become that role model”

Interesting thought, but still it has been a lot to process. DH has a very wise head on his shoulders. He processes situations like this very practically, and once he is done processing, he is ready to proceed. I, on the other hand, have had many apprehensions. I am trying to deal with each apprehension, and I believe that I am making progress. And with that, I think I am coming to the place where I am accepting that our family is going to be created in a unique way. I am trying to stay focused that the goal is to become a parent, as opposed to the goal being to become pregnant.

We have started talking to our families about their thoughts on transracial adoption. I have spoken with my brother and sister, and during both conversations, got the complete support that I wanted. While I was talking to my sister, I had a very powerful vision of DH and me visiting India with our adopted baby – and in my vision it was a little girl with curly hair and a beautiful laughing face – a very “white” baby, with chubby cheeks. In my vision my entire family was fawning over the baby, and everyone was just so happy! It made my heart skip a beat, and then I realized this was the first time I had actually envisioned an adopted baby in our lives, and more over, this was the first time I had envisioned my family with my baby (biological or otherwise).

I think we are finally ready to move ahead with starting to fill out paperwork and commit to a home study to start with. I am not freaking out about this any more, and I feel we can do it.


Caroline said...

Nikki - it's great to hear from you. I'm glad that your family are being supportive of you and DH as you move forward down the adoption road. You will be a beautiful mother, and your child/ren will be all the more special to you because of the journey you are taking to get to them. Keep us updated. Hugs. xx

Anonymous said...

I am so amazed by you - reading this gave me goosebumps. You are so beautiful, thoughtful and any child is going to be so, so lucky to have you both as parents.

That is too bad about the international adoption rules - they really do not make sense to me.

We too looked into adoption and found that due to Mr. M's age (he will be 52 in March), we were out of many countries and that we would find ourselves on the long end of a domestic waiting list.

I was also shocked to find that there were different routes for adopting a Caucasian baby and an African American baby - much faster and much cheaper to adopt an African American baby.

Mr. M had made final decision - he thinks like your husband - to use DS instead of adopting since it was much easier, much cheaper and his biggest reason was that because most adoptions are open, we would not have to deal with any birth parents down the road.

That was us - and everyone is different. But I truly feel that our paths lead us to our children - no matter their origin, their race, their looks - these were meant to be our children just the same as you will find the child that is meant to be yours and was meant to be yours from the beginning of time.


DAVs said...

You CAN do it Nikki. I feel strongly about that.
But I do understand this loss you speak is hard to process yet another loss. But those positive visions can be powerful ones--let those carry you on the days when you might feel down or uncertain.
Good luck!

Sue said...

I had no idea it would be so hard in your situation! But, it sounds like you have made real progress. I have a good friend who just got told that she will have a baby in 2 weeks from an adoption agency. It is so exciting!!!! I truly think that once you are able to commit to this path, it is a beautiful one!

Tennille said...

Oh wow Nikki, your post brought tears to my eyes - even the 2nd time I read it! First of all, I am so sorry that it seems unlikely that you will be able to adopt an Indian child. I know that has to be very hard to accept, but your perserverance past that fact demonstrates how committed you and DH are to building your family. Your child will be so very lucky to have you two as parents.

You "sound" like you're in a good place and that makes me very happy. You have obviously been through hell this year (and other years too, but this one especially) and it's great that you finally have some peace. And what a breakthrough to be able to finally visualize your child. What an amazing thing!!!

I am so very excited for you and DH. If you have any questions about the adoption process, please let me know.

Jill M. said...

Oh dear Nikki, I'm so sorry that you seem to hit road blocks every direction you turn. Those adoption rules sound a little too strict to me.

I'm soooo glad you rec'd your family's support, that is awesome. And how awesome that you have accepted the process and are ready to move forward. This child is going to be so lucky to have you as his/her mom!!!

Have you looked any further into surrogacy for your remaining embryos? That would give you an Indian child.

Hugs my friend!

Melissa G said...

Nikki, I continue to be in awe of your strength. I think you and your husband are going to make such amazing parents, and it sounds like your child(ren) will have loving and supportive relatives to boot.

The more I learn about it the more adoption laws seem so frustrating. I know the laws are put in place to protect the children, but it also seems to put them at such a disadvantage because of the redtape that prohibits wonderful people like yourselves from taking these children into a loving home. It's just so unfair!!!

Congratulations on moving forward with the home study! I hope things progress in a way you both so deserve.

K said...

If you become US citizens, does the option of international adoption open back up? I am asking out of curiosity for our situation, as my DH is not yet a citizen and thoughts of immigration issues with adoption had never even crossed my mind. We're not at adoption yet, but it's always been on the table, so the more info the merrier.

I wish you both the best.

Lisa said...

This post brought tears to my eyes and made my heart come up in my chest. I feel so happy for you. I love the "family vision" you had. It is beautiful.

Your family sounds wonderful and I am happy they are being so supportive. You two have done your research and are clearly on your way to moving forward on your path to parenthood.

This makes me so happy and excited for you.

All my love.

banditgirl said...

Nikki, it's been incredible to follow your journey and see the huge progress that's happened. It shows how capable human beings are of change and of healing. It's still a process and it still may not be easy at all times, but it just fills my heart with so much joy to see you move along in your journey and getting closer step-by-step to having a family.

K said...

Thank you for the follow-up! ♥

Lauren said...

It's amazing all the technical stuff you learn along the way. So much to digest! But, you can do it. :)
I'm so glad you can "see" yourself and your family with your child. How exciting!

Anonymous said...

As an adoptive mother myself, your post really touched my heart.
You said it all when you said "the goal is to become a parent and not becoming pg".
You are a beautiful, compassionate and strong woman and you will become a wonderful mom!
Your journey to motherhood will make you a much better mom!

Lorraine said...

I wonder if there is any way at all to apply for a variance to the adoption rule? Or is there a way to establish "residency" but not really be there very much?

And I hate to say it, but a lot of my job is to get around the rules that are on the books - we always hire an expediter to smooth the way, and we have been 100% successful. Just a thought...

But however it ends up working out, it seems that you are really on the way, that things are moving in new directions and that you will find the way that was meant to be. I finished reading your post with such a sense of well-being, and I hope that feeling continues!

Meg. said...

Oh Nikki, I second Melissa G's comment, to a T! The laws are so very frustrating!

But can I just say how excited I am for you and how PROUD I am that you're moving forward with the home study?! Excellent, excellent news.

I think that any child who is to become a part of your family will be so blessed and *lucky* to experience your love, your culture, your wisdom and your strength.

I look forward to catching up with you once I'm back from Aruba!

Lost in Space said...

Your vision is beautiful, Nikki. It may not look like you had always imagined, but the dream remains the same.

I'm sorry this is another loss for you to face. It's okay to grieve it even while looking forward. Hugs.

Willow said...

My husband comes from a very traditional Middle Eastern family on one side, and Asian on the other, and I worried about them accepting a baby from outside of their cultures. But when we adopted our son, who is Filipino & African-American, they all immediately started fawning over him and even insisting that surely he shared their heritage (their way of "claiming" him, which I took as a very good sign). And in a way, he will. Those traditions will be part of his culture & upbringing, as will those of his birthfamily (ours is an open adoption).

I also worried about my white, Midwestern family accepting a baby of a different race, but they are all in love with him too. Babies have a way of overcoming a lot of barriers. Although this is not what I imagined our family looking like, now that our boy is here, I can't imagine it any other way.

Good luck with your journey!

B said...

That really sucks that you would have to go and live in India for two years - even though you are Indian. I hate it when legislation makes life so much more complicated than it alreadly is.

Best of luck as you go forward.

nancy said...

This is a great post. And I'm so glad you are ready for the next step of wholeheartedly putting yourself into the next step of the process.

I really liked what the hypnotherapist said about being the role model that you can't find. What a powerful statement.

Phoebe said...

I'm sure this is very difficult for you, especially knowing there are so many children in India that need homes. I'm wondering if there isn't some adoption agency in this country that specializes in Indian adoptions?

I admire your will to keep moving forward to becoming a parent. I think we have all had to come to terms that our families, though not what we thought they would be initially, are exactly what we need in the end.

Shelby said...

Sorry for such a delay in my commenting! I've long considered what adopting outside of my race/culture would look like and despite all of my cross-cultural counseling training, classes etc., it is such a tremendous undertaking, but I still believe that if it is done in love and if the parents are as cognizant of and open to the issues going into it as you are, then it can be done beautifully, especially where we live. We are blessed to be in such a culturally diverse area and this is one of the reasons why I moved back from Idaho--knowing that I might one day adopt a child who looked very different from me.

I have no doubt that whether your child is biological or from a completely different culture or race that they will ultimately be the most loved and the luckiest child on the face of this planet. You are an inspiration and I can't wait to see where your path goes, because I know that in the end, you'll find whoever it is you've been searching for all this time.

Mo said...


sorry to be so late in commenting...this is a lot for you to take in and figure out. It sounds like a tough situation. We have also begun exploring adoption and it is not such an easy path. the additional citizenship barriers make it even tougher for you guys.

thinking of you. and wishing you find the path to become parents soon. you're going to be great ones.