Tuesday, July 31, 2007

family on display

Last week Bryan, Alex, Sam and I traveled to North Carolina for our annual family reunion. For some reason, we seemed to attract more attention than I remember getting recently. (Maybe Sam's noisy squawking and running in all directions contributed...) Anyway, all during the trip, a lot of people (strangers) commented on how beautiful our kids are. At first I didn't really think much about it, because of course they ARE beautiful. But then, while walking around Blowing Rock and the mall and other public places, I kept overhearing conversations springing up around us that had to do with adoption. I began to suspect that we are being noticed more because of our "blendedness" as a family. It's the old "living in a fishbowl" phenomemon we were warned about. You may think you are just out doing normal things all families do, but like it or not, you attract attention, and you might as well get used to it.

One man approached us in the airport and said his daughter and her husband were considering adoption. He wanted to know how much it cost. I usually love talking to people about adoption (shamelessly promoting it, of course), but I am starting to balk at the "cost" question especially when it is being discussed directly in front of the kids. I want to be honest - yes, adoption does involve fees - but it seems pretty tactless to quote numbers - like putting a pricetag on your kids. And really, if you just met someone who had required infertility treatment to have a child, would you ask them (in front of the child), "So, how much did you wind up paying?"? I read one adoption magazine article that suggested, when asked how much you paid to adopt, to ask the questioner how much they paid for their house! I haven't done that yet but some day I may find the nerve. For now, my answer to the "cost" question is something like, "After the tax credits, it costs about as much as having a baby in a hospital" and "A substantial part of the fees go to support other kids in orphanages who are not adopted."

That said, it still saddens me that adoption fees are often high enough to be out of range for a lot of decent hardworking families. I bet a lot more kids would be adopted if the fees were lower. Once I read that for every healthy baby that needs a family, in the US there are 25 couples looking to adopt. No wonder international adoption is so popular. I also read that before Roe v. Wade, the demand for adoptable babies was pretty much equal to the supply. I'm not sure what adoption fees were back then, but it would be interesting to know.

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