WHY are we adopting? The easiest way to answer this is by a Frequently Asked Questions format...
Questions we have often been asked:
"So, you are adopting, why not just have another one of your own?"
We have three beautiful biological children and did not have trouble conceiving any of them. We both have agreed that we want a bigger family but would rather not go through another pregnancy or delivery. Russ announced it in the delivery room after Trevin was born that labor and delivery is too hard on him and he’s not doing that again. Ha! I (Allison) did not really enjoy it either. So with that, we are actually CHOOSING to adopt an orphan who needs a family RATHER than have another biological child. We absolutely, positively believe adoption is really not the right choice for everyone, but we absolutely believe it's a great choice for us.
"But WHY adopt?"
There are 143 MILLION orphans in the world today-- that's 143 million reasons "why" for us. Every DAY 15,000 new children become orphaned. We absolutely cannot help all of them, I know. But we started to search our hearts and realize we could help ONE. Perhaps even two (our dream). And instead of WHY, we started to ask, "Why not?"
Who are you adopting?
We are looking to adopt a little girl from China. We have completed all the legal documents required by China and have been pre-approved by China to adopt. Now we are waiting for our agency to match us with a little girl that matches our criteria. We are able to select the age range and medical needs we are willing to accept. The process has been going fairly quickly with China so we hope to have a match by the end of the year. Then we will file more paperwork with the US Immigration office and will travel to pick her up 3-4 months later. So much paperwork is done ahead of time so when she lands, she will be a US citizen.
"Why did you choose international adoption when there's also 500,000 children in the U. S. foster care system?"
Well, many reasons. We love and support foster families and foster-adoption but really didn't feel it was the right fit for us at least at this time for many reasons. We are looking to adopt and the probability of actually being able to keep the child that we fostered is not high. We are not ready for the tough emotions our children will have to endure if they have to say good bye to a child we’ve had in our home for years. I would love to start fostering children when my youngest child is a bit older. There are also private adoptions in the US of babies but there are also a lot of families in this country who have not been able to have a baby of their own who are waiting to be chosen by a birth mother. Birth mothers can also change their mind, as many of them do, after their baby is born. So for those reasons, we are not prepared to adopt from the US at this time.
"Why did you choose "China: Special Needs Program"?"
China in a way chose us. We originally started in 2012 with a program for Kyrgyzstan (just west of China) but they soon shut down their program due to corruption (sadly is a very prevalent problem in the adoption world). We looked into other programs, including Russia, which has since shut down. Each country has particular qualifications a family must meet if they would like to adopt. For instance, Haiti, both parents must be 35 (Allison isn’t yet!), must be married ten years and not have biological children in the home. While agencies did say the country may pardon us on the biological children, the process would take a lot longer. China is a Hague certified (many steps of checks and balances to prevent corruption) and is a much faster program than many of the others. We would like all our children to be young together so we are interested in bringing home a child sooner than later.
Also, many of you know about their One Child Policy, they have had for decades which has created a major humanitarian crisis. The gendercide is staggering. Because of the cultural preference for boys, when a pregnant mother learns her baby is a girl, many millions of girls in China are aborted just for being a girl and never get a chance at life. About 60% of the children being born in China are boys. Most families have only one child, so an entire generation of sisters, brothers, cousins, aunts, uncles, etc. are missing. An enormous crisis is already underway, as each elderly person now only has one person each to care for them as they age, instead of several.
As for children who ARE actually born, if they have ANY "special need" for medical care at all, even a missing or extra toe, they are unfortunately often abandoned at birth, because there is no healthcare assistance in China, as well as the social stigma against a visual deformity of any kind. Abandoning a child is a criminal offense in China and there are no "Safe Haven" laws as we have here, as far as I understand. Our daughter’s birth mom cared about her, I believe, and perhaps she knew she couldn't afford to help her medically. I am UNBELIEVABLY thankful that she chose LIFE for her, and that she gave US the gift of a wonderful daughter to love!
As for special need orphans in China, their future is very bleak. At the age of 13, they are no longer legally eligible for adoption. At the age of about 15, most orphans are turned out of the orphanages and since all their documents indicate that they are orphans (AND because of their special need), they are usually discriminated against getting a job. Their futures are heartbreaking unless they are adopted. The older they get, the less likely they will get a family.
Abigail has said for years now that she wants a
sister from China. She has believed,
longer than Russ and I were considering adoption, that her sister lives in
China. Even while considering other countries,
she has quietly asked us to consider China and here we are, on the road to
bringing home a little girl from China. No
one is more excited than Abigail to have a little sister.
"Isn't this going to be hard on your family and marriage?"
This is a legitimate concern. We know that this will be a very challenging time in our lives. Children who have been institutionalized will have delays and will have a lot of adjusting to do. We realize this and are not naïve about it. We have consulted with families who have adopted, met with the older biological siblings of the adopted, and heard all the good and bad. Some had trouble adjusting but in the end all of the children are well adjusted into the home.
We also feel that in a way, God has been preparing us for this. Together, Russ and I have faced some extremely challenging times but got through them and are stronger at the other end. We have already been through and are going through the challenge of raising a special needs child. Joshua, our middle child, has had health problems since birth. We’ve been walking that road and are learning so much and are not afraid to do it again.
Before we made the final decision to go forward with this adoption, I prayed hard for a clear answer. One of my biggest concerns was how adopting a child would affect my children. I remember God’s answer was so clear as if he were speaking audibly to me. His response was “You’re asking the wrong question, don’t ask how adoption will affect your children, you should be asking yourself how NOT adopting will affect your children! I am creating a legacy of adoption in your family and this is as much about your own children as it is about the little orphan from across the world.” So in that moment, I knew that God was orchestrating this entire adoption and we’re just along for the ride. Who am I really to go and mess with God’s calling on our lives?
Again, we know this will be hard but we know that “we can do all things through Christ who gives us strength.”
"WHY is the adoption process from China
cost $35,000 – 40,000?!?!? Who are you paying all that money to?”
This is a very valid question and one we have asked ourselves. The majority of the adoption fees are on the state and U.S. side of the adoption, not China. There is SO much paperwork, legal fees, forms, red tape, applications, education, translation involved it's mind-boggling. I'd be more than happy to show you the dollar for dollar breakdown. The $40,000 also includes: our travel expenses (hotel for 2 weeks and 2 in country flights), our airfare to China, translator and guide, court fees, document fees, I could go on and on. Chinese adoption is a well-oiled machine, but it is an expensive process. We’re not sure exactly what it will cost yet because we don’t know how much travel will cost. It depends on the season that we travel.
How are you funding this adoption?We have been saving for a while and are running a Both Hands project to raise the gap. Both Hands is an organization that serves both the widow and the orphan. We have got a team of 30-40 people together to help us fix up a widow’s home. All of those team members are sending out support letters to their friends and family asking them to support them in a day of work on the widow’s home. So just like a golf tournament or a 5K race, they are asking for sponsorship. All the money raised pays our adoption expenses. The supplies needed for the widow’s home are donated by local merchants. We are excited to be working on a widow’s home in our own neighborhood. We will be digging out an old pool, filling that in, building an oriental style tea house, general landscaping, staining the house and anything else she’d like done. This is all taking place on October 5th. We are hoping to raise $20,000 through this project. If you’d like to sponsor us in our day of work and help bring our daughter home, please go to http://bothhandsfoundation.org/russ-and-allison-highton.