Can You Change Your Mind About Domestic Adoption?

Well, of course you can at any point, but I did not consider it for our family. But this is taking awhile.

When my family eventually adopts a toddler from another continent, via international adoption and most likely from India, we ensure someone else’s daughter will understand about womens rights and have a right to vote, and to drive, and to pick her own husband.

We lean toward adopting an international daughter from India because so many little girls in Third World countries are sold into prostitution and slavery.

Our first route was definitely private domestic adoptions and my family started off by being informed about open adoptions, but the more he heard about it the more my husband was uncomfortable with contact with her birth family. He is a very private guy, doesn’t communicate with his own father anymore, and basically wants a child that belongs to him and him alone.

I know I’m going to hear it from all you domestic, open adoption fans but we prefer an international child who lives here with us while her poor, biological parents reside in India, 9,000 miles away, or whatever.

We know the stats as potential adoptive parents, more communicative and kinder open adoptions are better than before. Families can (and often do) sidestep the stigma of adoption to meet and establish initial communications between both families; yearly reunions or monthly letters helps the adopted child with health histories and cultural identity.

Darrin wants no part of this universe. I want to hear from adoptees who have never kept in touch with birth parents versus domestic and open newborn adoption. I think botoh sound incredibly difficult. Do you?

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Back To The Adoption Diaries, by Nicole Dorsey-Straff
  1. by Monika

    On October 5, 2012 at 10:24 am

    While I admire your reasons for adopting a little girl from India as far as teaching her about women’s rights and that she’s a valued person, not a possession, the very fact th at you want a child to “belong to you” says the opposite. Children aren’t possessions, just like adults shouldn’t be. They’re not things to be bought and sold. If you succeed in adopting from India (or internationally at all), you will always have to deal with that child’s birth mother (birth father and birth family included) in the form of that child. No child (even one biologically related to the parents that raise him or her) is born with a clean slate. An adoption document doesn’t erase that child’s biology. You will have a relationship with that child’s birth family whether you want one or not when you start to form a relationship with that child.

  2. by Suzy

    On October 5, 2012 at 10:43 am

    Wow, “we prefer an international child who lives here with us while her poor, biological parents reside in India, 9,000 miles away, or whatever.”

    If you are basing your decision to adopt internationally for this reason then you may want to reconsider.

    Any child you adopt will always have questions about their country of birth and their birth parents. You’ll never be able to have them “to yourself.”

  3. by Amy

    On October 5, 2012 at 11:06 am

    I have no opinions on which route a person takes on ther adoption journey. It is a very personal decision for the family. I was a little taken aback by the comment about your husband wanting a child that belonged to you and you alone. I get what you are saying here, but our children dont belong to us. I have a biological child and he is a gift I’ve been given thanks to God and technology, but he doesn’t belomg to me. I have a reponsibility to love him and raise him and then let him go.
    Then when I read your comment “we prefer an international child who lives here with us while her poor, biological parents reside in India, 9,000 miles away, or whatever” I actually wondered if this article was for real or put here to stir up controversy. I really have no words for that comment. It came across as if you have no respect for the child’s biological family and her country of origin. I’m not sure if you meant to come across so callus, but for the sake of you potential child I hope it was just the way you came across and not the way you really feel.

  4. by Tee @ Fostering Thrifty Families

    On October 5, 2012 at 11:48 am

    Do you really think that your Indian daughter wouldn’t be reminded of her not “belonging to (you) and (you) alone” every time she looks at her brown skin or wonders who her birth parents are and why she was adopted and what the land of her birth was like? There is no such thing as adopting a child who is “yours and only yours.” This is a harmful myth that continues to be perpetuated by a subset of adoptive parents and the adoption industry. Adoption is not a fertility treatment – You don’t just “get” a baby who has no issues and is yours and yours alone. You enter a complex web that involves at least one other mother and father who will always be with your child spiritually and emotionally, if not physically. In some cases there are other mothers and fathers, too (such as cases where a child is adopted after being in foster care or attached to their orphanage caretakers). In many cases there are physical and mental health issues relating to the child’s lack of prenatal care or early life in an orphange. If you cannot accept being part of this complex web, I think it’s fair to say it would be very hard for you to help your adopted child learn to love and understand themselves and their history. Don’t think that I don’t understand the desire to have a “no strings attached” baby – I do! As a foster-adoptive parent I sure do fantasize about having a child of my own who I never had to “share” with a dysfunctional child welfare system and the birth family most foster children are very loyal to (no matter how abusive or neglectful). I do empathize with the *feeling* behind this. What I don’t empathize with is actually taking action to adopt while holding as an ideal the “perfect” adoptee who will be grateful for being “rescued” but will never remind you that she is, in fact, a person with an identity that is different from yours and which likely includes her first family. A number of my friends who are international adoptees have found their birth families (despite “closed” international adoptions) or tried to, so don’t think for a second that in the age of the internet they will be forever severed from their birth family. A number who have adoptive parents who are threatened by their desire to know/find their birth families (such as your husband) have also stopped or limited contact with their adoptive families once they reached adulthood, out of resentment and pain. Think seriously about whether adoption is the right path for you and your husband. I wish you much luck.

  5. by Lori Lavender Luz

    On October 5, 2012 at 1:45 pm

    Hi, Nicole. It sounds like you are exploring many options for building your family. It’s great that you reach out to people who can fill in what you haven’t yet experienced.

    It’s difficult, when you’re merely talking about a theoretical baby or child, to “get,” deep down, that eventually you will be raising an actual child-tween-teen-adult who comes to you with her own blueprint, DNA, memories, traits, temperament, etc — things that are, in many ways, set. And removed from the influences of you and your husband. It can be a tough pill for a pre-adoptive parent to swallow, but it’s also a beautiful thing for a parent to watch a daughter who is yours (as in being claimed by, not as in ownership) blossom in surprising and unexpected ways.

    Two points I’d like to make:

    1. Your future daughter will pick up on how you feel about her birth parents and her birth culture. Whatever she senses you and Darrin feel, she may internalize and feel about herself. So choose your views with mindfulness of their affect on her.

    2. I refer you to a post called Half-Breed, about adoptee math, that I wrote out of a discussion I had with an adult adoptee. I’ve discovered that listening to adult adoptees is one of the best ways to see from my children’s eyes.

    I see that you also asked for adoptee viewpoints, and I hope some weigh in because I’m interested to read what they have to say.

    Good luck in refining your path.

  6. by Brandy

    On October 5, 2012 at 2:33 pm


    I’m an adoptee. Ignoring the realities of adoption (the child will NEVER be yours and yours alone…ever) will not make it so.

    My suggestion would be to find an International Adoption Agency that can educate you a bit more about what adoption and parenting an adopted child is like…because I fear your in for a very rude awakening once your daughter reaches a stage in life where she makes it clear, she is not just your daughter, but the daughter of her birth parents as well.

    You might also want to research and review the growing statistics related to IA Adoptees who search, reconnect and have wonderful relationships with members of their birth family.

    Good luck to you — it sounds like you’ve got a lot on your plate.

  7. by TAO

    On October 5, 2012 at 3:04 pm

    You wanted an adoptee opinion and for that I give you points – although truthfully – I almost couldn’t read your post because you are focusing on your needs and what is best for you…yet parenting is supposed to be focusing on what is best for the child…and adoption is supposed to be finding families for a child who needs one – not the other way around…

    Probably not completely applicable to internatonal adoption…

    Funny thing about genes, family health history, hereditary diseases – adoption does not magically wipe that away when your biological family is legally severed from you. There is a damn good reason the surgeon general pleads with people to make time every Thanksgiving when you are with family to UPDATE your family health history. It saves lives, and saves valuable time when time is the most critical to figuring out what could be wrong with you. Try telling the ER doctor you don’t know because you are adopted – it really sucks.

    And no – dna testing doesn’t equal your FHH – for the simple fact that they don’t know the genes for common hereditary diseases – let alone the 7,000 plus rare diseases. Not to mention the fact that how the disease transmits generationally throughout your family is also valueable. And really whatever tidbits provided by the agency at the time of adoption – most likely are useless – one reason is a young mother doesn’t know much history yet, and most importantly – because family health history changes every single time someone in the family gets diagnosed with a hereditary disease, dies, the age of diagnosis makes a difference for the next generation but chances are at the time of the adoption the mother or father wasn’t old enough to have that history. Example: Family health history of early age breast cancer – you should be tested starting at 10 years prior to the age at diagnosis of the most recent relative (i.e. the mother or aunt) – for some that will mean early twenties to be screened when protocal says 40′s and insurance companies will not pay for early screening without FHH of disease.

    Being from one of those closed adoptions I did not have the knowledge I needed. That lack of knowledge of my family health history changed the course of my life in an instant.

    Being adopted is hard. Not knowing where you came from. Not knowing who your ancestors were or where they came from and what paths they travelled. Not knowing if your face fit growing up because you never saw another person who looked like you. Not knowing your story except the abridged and revised or made-up story fed your parents by the social worker. Not knowing if you were given up by choice or by coercion. Not knowing all of your family – your siblings, grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins. At least with an open adoption (which is possible with some international adoptions) you aren’t left without any link.

  8. by Kelly

    On October 5, 2012 at 5:24 pm

    I keep going back to this comment…

    “I know I’m going to hear it from all you domestic, open adoption fans but we prefer an international child who lives here with us while her poor, biological parents reside in India, 9,000 miles away, or whatever.”

    You express that you are worried about what domestic, open adoption fans would have to say, but I think what you should really be worried about is what would your potential child would say if/when they ever read that remark.

    You have disregarded everything about her past and her only biological family. This is the only history she has and you shredded it with a “whatever.”

    I hope that you take some time to do some research, and really know what it is you are getting into when entering into adoption, there are many resources out there to learn about all sides of adoption.

  9. by Linda

    On October 5, 2012 at 5:56 pm

    Don’t adopt. Clearly, your husband has control issues and understands NOTHING about adoption. As an adoptee, I can say that you would be the worst type of adoptive parent. An adopted child will never “belong” to just one set of parents, whether the adoption is open or closed. OPEN is what is best for the CHILD. And “open” means visitation, not just pictures you cram into an envelope and send to the child’s first parents. Educate yourself, please. At this time, you and your husband are NOT suitable candidates to become adopters.

  10. by Claudia Corrigan D'Arcy

    On October 5, 2012 at 6:12 pm

    Can you change your mind abut adoption and JUST ADAPT to not getting what you want…because what you want doesn’t exist.
    Everyone else already said why.

  11. by Cassi

    On October 5, 2012 at 6:40 pm

    You aren’t talking about a child. You’re talking about a piece of merchandise you want to acquire, according to your’s and your husband’s desires.

    Nowhere in any of your writing was there a single ounce of concern for the child. Infact there was nothing but a complete disregard to who they are through their own biology. Their heritage. Their traits and talents unique to the family they were born in to.

    PLEASE educate yourself and your husband before putting any child at risk of being damaged by your self-entitlement and inability to understand that adoption is supposed to be about helping children truly in need not about helping you satisfy some crazy fantasy of making a child “belong” to you.

  12. by Renee

    On October 5, 2012 at 7:15 pm

    I am an adoptee from a closed adoption. I was barely able to read this through.

    I was adopted as an infant, but I already had an identity of my own. I was someone’s daughter BEFORE I was adopted. Any infant not born to you with be someone else’s son or daughter. It will have the genes, traits, abilities, talents, physical characteristics, etc., of its biological family, just as you have the genes, traits, abilities, talents, physical characteristics, etc., of yours and your husband has the genes, traits, abilities, talents, physical characteristics, etc., of his.

    What your husband wants is a Cabbage Patch Kid. They sell them at Target; please go buy him one instead of helping him to destroy a human being with his mind-boggling narcissism.

  13. by Kris

    On October 6, 2012 at 10:29 am

    Goodness, what judgement in these comments. As a social worker I understand the concern about what influence the biological family might have in an open adoption. It is intimidating. There is nothing wrong with wanting to take a child out of another country where they will be neglected or worse because she is simply a girl. Many of you are accusing her of not looking at this from the child’s perspective but at the same time being very closed minded yourself. Just because it’s your perspective doesn’t mean it’s the only perspective.

  14. by Courtney

    On October 7, 2012 at 6:18 am

    I am a mother of four-point-five:
    -a biological son
    -an internationally adopted daughter
    -a daughter with severe special needs adopted from foster care
    -a daughter adopted domestically as an infant (yes, it is open) with special needs
    -pregnant with a baby girl

    Adopting internationally does have benefits. For instance, the area in which my daughter probably would have grown up was very, very, very poor. She probably wouldn’t have received any sort of formal education. She wouldn’t have copious amounts of toys and books and electronics and technology at her disposal. There is a strong possibility she would’ve married young, and had several children (all born into poverty themselves). So…sure, we aided in making her life a bit easier. Well, at least on the surface.

    However, and it’s a BIG however, there is one thing we cannot give her: a connection to her roots. Sure, she can tell you a bunch of stuff about her birth country, but it’s not the same. It will never be the same. I am–but at the same time will NEVER be–her mother. It doesn’t matter that I love her beyond comprehension; instead, it is a simple fact. There is no substitution for her first family. Period. And just because we have no interaction with her family doesn’t mean they don’t exist. I’m leery of any PAP who immediately wants to discount the vital importance of first family connections. It’s not about you, or your husband’s “comfort level”, or anything else. It’s about the child, period. It’s about trying to do right by this little one and nothing more.

    We started off our adoption journey using a Big Name agency that spent countless hours perpetuating the myths and feeding into the misconceptions regarding open adoption. They didn’t facilitate domestic adoptions, you see, and they weren’t about to let a few PAPs willing to shell out the money slip out the door to another agency. While I love my little girl with every fiber of my being…had I been able to SEE what was transpiring under my nose (the downplaying of the importance of first family, the international adoption propaganda), I don’t know that we would’ve gone the international adoption route. We’ve already priced out PI’s to help us find our daughter’s first family and let me tell you, the cost is a bit…staggering and is something we need to save up to facilitate. But it will all be worth it. My daughter needs to know her mother, and her mom needs to know, y’know, HER daughter.

    I really hope you don’t leap forward into international adoption, especially under the guise of the reasons listed above. And lastly, while I think it’s a good idea in theory, the odds are very high that if you contact an agency that facilitates IAs for a glimpse of what the future could hold, you’ll receive a very well-polished glimpse indeed.

  15. by Sarah

    On October 9, 2012 at 9:55 pm

    I find it interesting that everyone just defends open adoption regardless of all the problems open adoption has.

    My family has a closed adoption and it is in the best interest of my daughter.

    The birth family violently assaulted the first set of adoptive parents. The adoptive husband had to have other 28 stitches due to the openness pushed by their adoption agencies.

    When we agreed to adopt our daughter the adoption agency started in on us about “Open Adoption.” My husband went straight to the family court judge with the incident report and the criminal records of the birth family. Thankfully, the judge ordered no contact with the birth family.

    I really don’t see how “Open Adoption” will help children when their birth families have these types of problems. Violence is deeply ingrained in this birth family’s culture. Our daughter needs to escape from the influences that causes this violence.

    My family does not know how to solve these problems that drove this birth family to violence. I also don’t think it is right to force adoptive parents into open adoption. Open Adoption has a lot of problems and they are mostly ignored by the adoption community by simply saying it best for the child without considering all the facts of the situation.