We are talking about the country of China a lot around our house these days. We check out library books about China and listen to Chinese music. Anna likes to shout "Ni hao!" ("hello" in Chinese) to us from across the room. But our favorite thing to do is watch Wild China on Netflix. It's a six-part documentary about wildlife in China that hits on various aspects of the culture just enough to be digestible to our young kiddos. We've learned a lot about the Silk Road, the snub nosed monkey, terraced rice paddies and, of course, pandas.
Tonight, while we were watching it for the eleventh time, Andrew said "I'm so glad Baby Sister is coming from China, 'cause I think China is so awesome. Mom, why did you and dad decide to get a sister from China?"
He's not the first person to ask, and I figure he's not the only person who wants to know "why China?" After all, you can adopt babies from lots of places, including the US. Nearly all my adopted cousins were born in America. We have friends who have adopted kids from within the foster care system. These stories are beautiful and precious to us, and have inspired us and encouraged us. When we first starting asking the adoption question seriously back in February of this year, we were open to any option the Lord might lead us to. Even so, after doing our research, there are several things about adoption from China that appealed to us:
-China's adoption relationship with the US is *relatively* steady and predictable. (Ha! Yeah, yeah, we've been delayed for over a year because China changed some rules. But I think that delay came from the Lord, who knew in advance we would need a little breathing room after the summer we've had. All in His time.)
-As far as international adoption goes, China's wait time for referrals and travel dates is pretty short, sometimes less than a year. That doesn't sound short, but compared to some countries where you expect to wait 2-4 years, it's pretty quick.
-You only have to travel one time. Lots of countries require more than one trip, trips up to a month long, or even in-country fostering for a length of time.
-Younger children are available for adoption. In some countries only older children (4+ years) are eligible for international adoption. Since keeping our kids' birth order intact is important to us, this matters.
-We are moved by the plight of orphans in China. Lots of people remember stories about Chinese girls needing families, but that story is actually outdated now. Domestic adoption is more widely accepted in China, but disability is still difficult for many families to deal with culturally, not to mention financially. Result: girls AND boys with disabilities need to be adopted in China, and many of them need access to medical care that is difficult to get in their home country.
We could tell we were drawn to China and felt like it was a good fit for us. Still, it wasn't an easy decision, especially for me. I like data when I make decisions. Ask my work family, they can tell you. And even though the "pro" list for China was long, I could make equally long lists for other countries, and an even longer list for domestic adoption. (Side note: a lot of people assume domestic adoption is cheaper, and it is, but not by much, unless you foster to adopt which was not something we think is right for us at this point. Fostering older kids is totally on my bucket list when we are empty nesters, though.) All these lists bothered me. We knew we wanted to go with China, but I couldn't come up with a clear, "can't argue with that" reason. Why choose a Chinese daughter over all other children who need families?
This is maybe the most striking thing for me about adoption. When you make a kid from scratch, you find out you're pregnant and then you are on the train. In 9 months or less that kid is coming, whatever that bring with it. You don't have to do much else to make that happen, and you don't choose anything about the kid. But adoption is just the opposite. It is choice after choice after choice to get that baby home. The choice over where to look for her weighed heavy on my heart for a while.
In the end, we chose China because we did. I guess you could say we feel led to China, although to my data-driven way of thinking that sounds fluffy. Fluffy or not, we are confident that it is the right decision for us, and that our daughter will be in China when God gets us there. We fall more in love with her birth country all the time as we learn about vast and varied landscapes and people groups. We can't wait to find ways to help her enjoy this part of her heritage that will now be part of ours too.
Josh and Emily
We hope that by sharing our steps, challenges, and milestones of our adoption, you will see yourself as part of the community we hope to build around our child as she grows up.