Adoption Diary: The Difficult ‘Foreign or Domestic’ Quandary

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My husband and I have been blessed with two beautiful children. They came pretty quickly together and pretty quickly after we got married. We’re hitting five years this September and our oldest will be four in August and our youngest just turned two. Since then, we’ve also had two miscarriages. These have been very difficult for us as has the failure to get pregnant in almost a year. We want more children and while we’re hoping for more biological children, we’re also talking a lot about adoption.

Before we got married, we both talked about how we were open to adopting children. Neither of us are adopted but we both have close family members and friends who are. My husband has a cousin with a couple of adopted children and I do, too. Many of our friends have adopted and our church has several children who are adopted, too.

As each month passes with another heartbreak, we’ve been starting to research adoption more. And the difference between thinking about adoption and navigating the difficult process is mindblowing. Immediately we realized that if we were going to start working with a particular agency, we needed to answer a very important question: domestic or foreign?

It sounds so odd to talk about this gift of life with the words “domestic” or “foreign” around it, doesn’t it? We just want a baby. A beautiful baby to join our family. Should we go abroad for that baby? There are so many children throughout the world that are desperately in need of good homes. One of my cousins has a precious daughter from Taiwan. My husband’s cousin became a father to girls from Ethiopia. And I have friends who have adopted from Kazakhstan, Russia, Guatemala, Ecuador and many other places. We also have friends who have children who were born here in the United States. One of my best friends from childhood has the cutest little boy who was born to a mother with serious drugs in her system (turns out he’s a-ok). Another friend just became the father to a boy whose mother couldn’t take care of three children and made the difficult decision to give him up for adoption.

Immediately the question of race is brought up. My husband and I are both white. We don’t really have a preference for the race of the child. But that’s also no way to move forward for the adoption process. I mean, if you’re adopting from outside the country, and you’re working through Kazakhstan, you can be pretty sure the child will be Kazakh. We were interested in sticking with the Ethiopian tradition and thought that it would be cool if our adopted child had cousins from the same country of origin. And as we talked more, we realized we were open to being a multi-racial family and, oddly, almost excited about it (although it also raises quite a few questions).

But the other thing we realized is that we were probably not the type of people who would adopt from abroad. It’s not that we have anything against non-American children. Not at all. But we’re American and there are enough children nearby that could use a loving family. And it’s not that we’re lazy, although those long trips to Kazahkstan sound really excruciating. But we do feel a certain family affinity already for anyone who is a fellow American. So it looks like we’re going to go Domestic, when we sign up with an agency to help us grow our family.