International adoption

Michael Gerson writes a moving column about international adoption:

Scott Simon — the sonorous voice of NPR’s “Weekend Edition” — has written a short, tender book about the two most important people in the world. At least to him. “Baby, We Were Meant for Each Other” recounts the arrival of his two daughters, Elise and Lina, from China, while telling the stories of other families changed by adoption.

Simon describes himself as skeptical of transcendence but as taking part in a miracle. “My wife and I,” he says, “knew that Elise and Lina were our babies from the moment we received their postage-stamp portraits. Logically, I know that’s not possible. But I also know that’s how my heart, mind and body . . . reacted to their pictures. . . . I would take the photo out of my wallet in the weeks before we left to get each of our girls and hold it against my lips to whisper, ‘We’re coming, baby.’ ”

It is an unexpected form of human affection — meeting an unrelated stranger and, within moments, being willing to care for her, even to die for her. The relationship results from a broken bond but creates ties as strong as genetics, stronger than race or tribe. It is a particularly generous kind of parental love that embraces a life one did not give.

International adoption has its critics, who allege a kind of imperialism that robs children of their identity. Simon responds, “We have adopted real, modern little girls, not mere vessels of a culture.” Ethnicity is an abstraction — often an admirable abstraction, but not comparable to the needs of a child living in an orphanage or begging in roving bands. Adopted Chinese girls are refugees from a terrible oppression — a one-child policy that Simon calls “one of the great crimes of history.” Every culture or race is outweighed when the life of a child is placed on the other side of the balance.

It is one of the noblest things about America that we care for children of other lands who have been cast aside. Simon recalls his encounter with an immigration officer in Chicago when bringing Elise to America: ” ‘When you cross that line,’ he said, ‘your little girl is a citizen of the United States.’ Then he put one of his huge hands gently under our daughter’s chin and smiled. ‘Welcome home, sweetheart,’ he told her.” This welcome to the world is one of the great achievements of history. After millennia of racial and ethnic conflict across the world, resulting in rivers of blood, America declared that bloodlines don’t matter, that dignity is found beneath every human disguise. There is no greater embrace of this principle than an American family that looks like the world.

Instead of undermining any culture, international adoption instructs our own. Unlike the thin, quarrelsome multiculturalism of the campus, multiethnic families demonstrate the power of affection over difference. They tend to produce people who may look different from the norm of their community but see themselves as just normal, just human.

Every adoption involves a strange providence, in which events and choices are random yet decisive. “Those of us who have been adopted,” says Simon, “or have adopted or want to adopt children, must believe in a world in which the tumblers of the universe can click in unfathomable ways that deliver strangers into our lives.”

via Michael Gerson – International adoption: From a broken bond to an instant bond.

Read the rest of it, including Gerson’s own personal story of the fruit of international adoption.

Go here to buy Simon’s book: Baby, We Were Meant for Each Other: In Praise of Adoption

About Gene Veith

Professor of Literature at Patrick Henry College, the Director of the Cranach Institute at Concordia Theological Seminary, a columnist for World Magazine and TableTalk, and the author of 18 books on different facets of Christianity & Culture.

  • Orianna Laun

    Friends of ours did international adoption, and they came back after their first trip to meet their children telling us of the living conditions of the orphanages. The places were not squalid, but they were nothing extra either, just adequate. The sadness is that some of those children will never be adopted out because the parents can’t/won’t give up rights.

  • Orianna Laun

    Friends of ours did international adoption, and they came back after their first trip to meet their children telling us of the living conditions of the orphanages. The places were not squalid, but they were nothing extra either, just adequate. The sadness is that some of those children will never be adopted out because the parents can’t/won’t give up rights.

  • Steve

    Thank you for this. We just arrived home 8/21 with our son from China. It was our second International Adoption (our daughter came home with us in 2006). It is one of the hardest, and best things we have ever done.

  • Steve

    Thank you for this. We just arrived home 8/21 with our son from China. It was our second International Adoption (our daughter came home with us in 2006). It is one of the hardest, and best things we have ever done.

  • Booklover

    What a beautiful story.

  • Booklover

    What a beautiful story.

  • http://www.grassstains.net Gregg

    We will be celebrating our first year with our daughter from China in a couple of weeks. It was often a frustrating and long beuracractic process (we still have a final post-adoption social visit, and readoption papers to file). But, we are so thankful for our girl, and have marveled repeatedly at how well she completes our family. The Lord knew exactly who we needed, and brought her into our lives.

  • http://www.grassstains.net Gregg

    We will be celebrating our first year with our daughter from China in a couple of weeks. It was often a frustrating and long beuracractic process (we still have a final post-adoption social visit, and readoption papers to file). But, we are so thankful for our girl, and have marveled repeatedly at how well she completes our family. The Lord knew exactly who we needed, and brought her into our lives.

  • http://facebook.com/mesamike Mike Westfall

    In the town where I live there are so many kids around that were adopted form overseas that they hardly are seen as “different from the norm of their community.”

    These kids are normal and wonderful children, and as far as I can tell don’t suffer from any cultural identity crisis when they get older. I wish the state agency that adopts out kids in the foster care system would take a lesson from that. They seem to be reluctant to place hispanic kids with non-hispanic families, and most of the local Indian tribes would also rather see Native American kids remain indefinitely in foster care than let them be adopted by non-Indian families. All in the name of “cultural identity.”

  • http://facebook.com/mesamike Mike Westfall

    In the town where I live there are so many kids around that were adopted form overseas that they hardly are seen as “different from the norm of their community.”

    These kids are normal and wonderful children, and as far as I can tell don’t suffer from any cultural identity crisis when they get older. I wish the state agency that adopts out kids in the foster care system would take a lesson from that. They seem to be reluctant to place hispanic kids with non-hispanic families, and most of the local Indian tribes would also rather see Native American kids remain indefinitely in foster care than let them be adopted by non-Indian families. All in the name of “cultural identity.”

  • Digital

    My wife and I are just starting down the path of adoption and it is appearing to be a very daunting one. One of the biggest challenges we currently have is getting adoption agencies to talk to us. Another issue is finding an agency that will allow us to seek out sibling adoptions and toddler adoptions as well as infant.
    We were accepted into LFS’s infant program 3 years ago but had to decline due to a conflict that year.
    Now that we are revving up again we are discovering how truely daunting of a task it is to find an agency and start a dialog. My wife and I are very capable, highly educated individuals and we are having difficulty with it. But we push forward, we ordered this book to get some encouragement. The discussion that followed his article was…abrasive to say the best.
    http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=129301982

  • Digital

    My wife and I are just starting down the path of adoption and it is appearing to be a very daunting one. One of the biggest challenges we currently have is getting adoption agencies to talk to us. Another issue is finding an agency that will allow us to seek out sibling adoptions and toddler adoptions as well as infant.
    We were accepted into LFS’s infant program 3 years ago but had to decline due to a conflict that year.
    Now that we are revving up again we are discovering how truely daunting of a task it is to find an agency and start a dialog. My wife and I are very capable, highly educated individuals and we are having difficulty with it. But we push forward, we ordered this book to get some encouragement. The discussion that followed his article was…abrasive to say the best.
    http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=129301982

  • Gregg

    @Digital – I don’t know if one of the agencies you’ve looked at is America World (www.awaa.org), but we went through them even though they were on the other side of the country from us, and were very satisfied. Feel free to contact me through our webpage (linked above) if you have questions.

  • Gregg

    @Digital – I don’t know if one of the agencies you’ve looked at is America World (www.awaa.org), but we went through them even though they were on the other side of the country from us, and were very satisfied. Feel free to contact me through our webpage (linked above) if you have questions.

  • Steve

    @Digital, what Gregg says goes for us, too. My wife and I have come to realize that adoption is our life mission. We’d be happy to talk to you about it as well.

  • Steve

    @Digital, what Gregg says goes for us, too. My wife and I have come to realize that adoption is our life mission. We’d be happy to talk to you about it as well.

  • Digital

    @Gregg
    Thanks, I will check them out as well. We are moving to try to contact many places to see where we fit. We have about a 50% rate going right now when it comes to hearing back. Phone calls seem the most reliable but even there we have trouble. Persistence is the key I hear.

  • Digital

    @Gregg
    Thanks, I will check them out as well. We are moving to try to contact many places to see where we fit. We have about a 50% rate going right now when it comes to hearing back. Phone calls seem the most reliable but even there we have trouble. Persistence is the key I hear.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Thanks to all the Christians here who have adopted or are trying to! God bless you all!

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Thanks to all the Christians here who have adopted or are trying to! God bless you all!

  • Digital

    Steve and Gregg
    Feel free to e-mail me at adamATadamandreaDTO.com
    We sure can use any encouragement and advice you have.

  • Digital

    Steve and Gregg
    Feel free to e-mail me at adamATadamandreaDTO.com
    We sure can use any encouragement and advice you have.

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