November 25, 2007


This past summer, friends of ours took their biological daughter, their ten-year-old adopted daughter and one Chinese-speaking grandmother on a trip to China. They brought gifts to their daughter's orphanage and met with the young woman who had found the abandoned baby who is now their daughter. I could only marvel. "How was it?" I asked. "Very emotional and very rewarding."

Suddenly the media is rife with stories of families who track down the birthmothers of their international adopted children in Russia or China. The jury is still out on this trend. Both our agency and the Russian government frown upon this practice, unless there has been a drastic reversal in the past decade.

When we got the boys, I was philosophical. If they ask about their birth family or want to contact them when they are adults, I will not discourage it, I thought. But things are certainly more complex than that. Do children feel attachment to a culture and country that could not provide a stable home environment? Are they interested in visiting the orphanage where they spent endless hours lying unattended in cribs? What circumstances caused their birthmother to give them up?

After hearing about the Smith's trip, I asked Hart if he is interested in going back to Russia. That was clearly the wrong choice of words, as his eyes widened in alarm. "No, no, not to stay, for a visit." He was visibly relieved, but clearly not enthusiastic about the idea.

Once upon a time, the boys occasionally told me they thought about their birthmother in Russia. I confessed to them that I did, too. Often. However, I do not share their sunny fantasies. She IS younger than I am, and possibly more beautiful, as Jeff asserts. She is not a princess, though. I wonder about darker issues What is she doing now? Does she have more children? What does she think of me . . . a nameless, faceless foreigner taking care of her children?

I would not encourage such a quest. I am curious about her, too. But I have had quite enough adoption surprises for one lifetime, thank you.

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