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Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Vietnam adoption reopening and rambling semi-coherent thoughts


Today, September 16th, 2014, is a day long waited for by many.   After halting adoptions in 2008, today, the US State Dept, will start processing adoptions from Vietnam.  The official announcement is here.

It is a very small program that's opening, nothing like the one that closed in 2008. Much smaller and much different. The new program only has 2 agencies, Dillon and Holt, in my opinion both agencies are highly respected with a LONG history of transparency.  Holt was our agency that we adopted Mimi through, and we highly highly recommend them.  (Did I mention we highly recommend Holt?)  The US DOS had previously announced that this program will only be placing "children with special needs, children aged five and older, and children in biological sibling groups." A link to the US DOS announcement about the type of children the program will place is here.  

I have mixed feelings about the Vietnam program reopening.  I'm happy, but I'm scared at the same time. It brings back a flood bad memories of a very tough time for us.   In my mind, I'm hoping this new program will be a successful test to see if the program is stable and transparent enough to get bigger, especially since I've seen the need personally first hand.  I pray it is!  After our stay at the Vietnam orphanage this summer, I'm often find myself sad that any of these amazing children can't have what they deserve; a family to call their own forever and ever.  Don't get me wrong, the children in orphanages that I've personally seen, and surely the vast majority of orphanages in Vietnam (and the world) are loved on by their caregivers with all they have.  But growing up, even with love, in institutionalized care will never ever be the same as a forever family.  Not to mention that these children aren't growing up in with their first family, the best case scenario of all!  And that just makes me sad all the way around.

But what happened in Vietnam with our adoptions in 2008, still haunts me.  How can it not when my children still bare the scares... figuratively AND literally bare scars.  It was one of the toughest things in my life to go through.  Sometimes folks ask me to compare the Vietnam adoption process with our China adoption.  Well... the China adoption was comparitively smooth sailing and easy!  We knew our Chinese daughter would come home!  We had absolutely no idea if our Vietnamese children, our Tess and Jude, would come home back in 2008.  We were threatened, (and I'm not using that word lightly) that they might not come home, but grow up in an orphanage.  It felt as if someone had a vendetta out against us during that process... wait... someone kinda did!  But I digress.

I think I'm rambling again.  I just want it to work.  I want this new program, a program that has opened and closed again and again and again over the years, to work so badly, so children, mostly special needs children, can have families.  I want to dream like a child and live in an ideal world where all children have a mama and a papa and a place to call home.  My list of wants and prayers is long and only semi-coherent tonight.   I want families to be together.   I want children that will never know homes, the ones that don't qualify for adoption, to have a home.  I don't want orphanages to be under funded and under staffed with another mouth to feed and have to make a new bed.  I don't want a mama to come to the steps of an orphanage and feel like she has no other choice then to leave her baby as she walks out.   My heart breaks for the ones left behind. My heart breaks for the first families that don't feel like they have an alternative.  The heartbreak adoption is born from is real.  I'm scared that the program won't be transparent enough. Or that enough safeguards have been put in place and that children won't be lured from their families.  I pray that children stay with their birth families in the first place and never have to know what growing up in an institution is like. I want Vietnamese families who have children with special needs to have access to the medical care so that can stay together.  And as a very very very last resort, I want this program, the US Vietnam adoption program, where children will lose their family first, then their nationality and their language, and the culture and their heritage, their food, their way of life and everything they have ever ever known is stripped from them often literally... and get a forever family in exchange... I want that to work too.

A prayer that the program works, takes hold, unites more children that would never know the security and unconditional love of a family any other way.
Amen

***the photos here are of the amazing, gorgeous, sweet, smart, perfectly-made children at St, An's Orphanage in Vietnam.

22 comments:

  1. As always, you've hit the nail right bang on the head. I don't want to appear fulsome, but I think that every prospective adoptive parent - everybody with an iota of interest in adoption, pro or con - should read what you've written.

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    1. Thank you, docjim. Adoption is born of loss. That loss is so so real. I just wish it didn't have to exist in the first place.

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    2. Ditto. I have great joy from our daughter, but when I stop to think about everything that happened to bring us together, from Chinese cultural views of girls to the One Child Policy to the heart-wrenching decision her mother (and, perhaps, father) had to make... It's a kick in the gut.

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  2. Oh Nancy this makes my heart both happy and sad. Happy that just maybe a few of these babies will finally join their forever homes and sad that these babies are in the middle of a government who plays politics with these precious babies. Praying that the Vietnamese adoption program has these babies "futures outside the walls of the institution" as their main achievement. Blessings to the many babies that are awaiting and hoping for that special day.

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    1. D, the vast majority of the "orphans" in VN, (around the world really) will never qualify. But I hope that some how, the some of the ones that come to the orphanages legitimately, and need family will be able to and make their way a forever family. Unfortunately it's just not that simple.

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  3. I have a love-hate relationship with adoption. Yes, we have adopted twice and it has been an immense blessing. But, it's a problem that should never exist. The $30,000 would much better be spent being sent to an organization to help their orphanages. But really, who is going to send over $30,000? Adoption, in reality, isn't accomplishing much. It is not a good long term solution, but the only solution for the time being. But what a blessing adoption has been....
    We didn't hop into the adoption bandwagon until 2011. What happened in VN in and before 2008?

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    1. wouldn't that just be wonderful if we could just send $30K each and "fix" the real problem????? KEEPING FAMILIES TOGETHER! But as you know, that just won't happen. I so so so agree with you. Adoption doesn't solve the orphan problem. But at least for that specific child, will know the love of a forever family. ---Re VN prior 2008, LOTS or awful things happened including a LOT of child traffics and children/babies being lured to adoption under false pretense. Babies being bought to say it bluntly. You just can't put that type of money into a a poor(er) country without those issues popping. I totally believe that the same thing happens in the China program too, but most are being much more hush hush about it. I am witness to some of the "un-transparent" things in the China program too.

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  4. Hallelujah to the announcement, and Amen to your eloquent words! Such happy news.

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    1. Happy and sad for me, Michelle. I'm scared. I'm excited. I'm hopeful. I'm worried.

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    2. Don't know if the reason for your emotions is the same as mine....it's cracked open a door that I shut long ago. Scary indeed!

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    3. Same here. This news has cracked open a door that I shut long ago. For you too?

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    4. Ya, THAT TOO, Michelle! I KNOW to which you refer! That was actually the first thing Papa and I discussed. And for now, the door is still closed. But never say never! And you? Come on now! Nothing would make me happier to see your door open wide!

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  5. Special needs and older child adoptions have been working for Canadians and Europeans for years now. The non-special needs program is basically over as there are just a handful of these children allowed to be adopted each year, despite there being many healthy young children in orphanages. We personally saw 13 healthy babies all under 10 months old in an orphanage this spring and were told that there was no chance of them having their paperwork prepared because they were healthy and "not allowed to be adopted". There are long lines of people in many countries waiting to parent Vietnamese children and the governments of those countries have been satisfied that the adoptions that are taking place are ethical and legal. There are just a few well-vetted agencies from each country that work in Vietnam and there is a great deal of oversight, which will hopefully remain once the US joins. At this point there really is no need for Americans to adopt children in Vietnam as there are currently far more waiting parents than there are paper-ready children, but hopefully more true orphans can have their paperwork completed so that they can find their families wherever they may be.

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  6. I was so excited that the program has opened and I pray that Vietnam has it's act together that it can do right by these children. As you have seen their are way to many children sitting in orphanages over there and they all need homes. It breaks my heart! I am hoping to convince my husband to let us go over and bring one special child home.

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    1. K, I will say that when we adopted, our issues were never with the VN gov't. Our issues were entirely with the US gov't, how we saw them respond and things they did were quite unscrupulous.

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  7. My younger sister Elena - she is in the eighth grade and was adopted at eleven months - is a VietNam adoptee. We do not know very much about the circumstances behind her being abandoned, but it is clear that her case is a case of corruption and trafficking. It is a tricky situation to think about. It's not her fault. After the fact, she deserves a family. IA is essentially feeding human trafficking. We certainly do not want to be a part of that, but the children that are victims of it need families just as much as children abandoned for the "right" reasons.

    I spent a year (between high school and college) in China at an orphanage. I am at loss for words describing the knowledge of knowing some of the precious children I was with will never know the love of a family. Just because younger children match more quickly does not mean they are all adopted. The harsh reality is that most orphanages do not have the resources to get even NSN babies paper ready. That is heart breaking to me. That is why my heart is in orphan care as opposed to adoption. (I still love adoption!)

    I am just 26. Last month my husband and I went to a fertility specialist and learned that we will not be able to have children. We actually took the news better than the extended family. Adoption has always been in the plan. I am ready to be a mom! In the next few weeks, we are going to start the process of adopting domestically. An open adoption ensures no corruption. When we turn 30 we will consider China or even VN, but for now domestic is our only choice. I'm sure we will match very quickly because of our ages an openness to an AA child.

    It is surreal that VN is opening again...

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    1. Unfortunately Lauren, I don't think that adopting domestically elimates cooruption either. In IA birth mothers are most often given no or very little sums of money. US birth mothers are given thousands of dollars. Tens of thousands sometimes! Hmmmmm... something seems off there. And US birth mothers often give up thier children for the same reasons that international birth mothers do... someone coorercedd them to do it, against their will. I personally know a first mom that was pressured to give her baby up. threatened that if she did not, her entire support system would turn from her. She had absolutely no desire to give up her baby and decades later is filled with loss and remorse. But without a support system she thought she had no choice. This is often the very same as IA birth moms. They feel they have no options. I don't think the international adoption and domestic adoption are so different. -----And best wishes to you and your husband on your growing family! I applaud your decision to be open to ages and ethnicities although it's not for everyone. David plat hit the nail on the head when he said, "Orphans are easier to ignore before you know their names. They are easier to ignore before you see their faces. It is easier to pretend they're not real before you hold them in your arms. But once you do, everything changes." I know you get that first hand.

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  8. No such thing as a black and white case of a child being orphaned. Nada. We should not be so naive to say that our daughters were abandoned because of their medical needs or gender. Yes, that may have certainly played a part, but the issue and reason is more deeply rooted. There are haunting truth about adoption that we adoptive parents don't like to hear.

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  9. Orphan Justice by Johnny Carr is a must read for adoptive parents!

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  10. My [bio] daughter is taking Mandarin. This is her third year. Tonight her homework is to write a short essay on the impacts of the one child policy and preference for girls. We have four adopted sons with medical needs. We know there was corruption. This issue is near to our hearts. I may honestly have her "lie" and write what most people think. She shouldn't have to go through the trouble of explaining it how it is.

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    1. Tammy, that topic is CLOSE to home. I'd request an alternate topic and let her choose. Naaa... I'd demand an alternate topic and let her choose.

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    2. Hit the nail on the head. I so want this to work, and be a second China as far as adoption goes. We were in the same situation in '08. That has left us with so much emotional baggage that we are afraid to give VN another go.

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