Here are questions about adoption and our journey to Sasha and WanYing that we hear frequently and the answers from our perspective. I've included both the raw questions we sometimes hear and their more sensitive rephrasing :)
We know that the path we chose in building our family is a little different from the norm ("normal" paths don't seem to suit us very well) - we have been so blessed by the addition of Sasha and WanYing to our family and love to pass along what we've learned along the way. If you have other questions that we haven't answered here, leave us a comment and we'll add them to the FAQ!
Raw Question: Couldn't you have more kids of your own?
Perhaps You Meant to Ask: Why did you choose to have children by adoption rather than by birth?
Answer: As far as we know, we could have more children by birth and we have been so blessed to have children both by birth and by adoption. What a gift! We had always been interested in adoption, and when the time came to add another child to our family we decided that providing a home and a family to a child already born into this world was the right path for us. You can read more about our choice to adopt in the posts, Our Adoption Testimony, Adding Another Morningstar and Our China Adoption Story (chapter 1).
Raw Question: When there are so many kids in the U.S. who need homes, why would you fly halfway around the world for a child?
Perhaps You Meant to Ask: Why did you pursue international adoption over other forms of adoption?
Answer: We believe that every child deserves a loving family and stable home and that as long as the adoption follows the appropriate legal guidelines there is no wrong way to adopt. We knew from early on that international adoption was the path for us. You can read more about our choice of international adoption in the post, Adding Another Morningstar
Raw Question: So... Kazakhstan... I have no idea if that's even a real country...
Perhaps You Meant to Ask: Why did you choose to adopt from Kazakhstan?
Answer: As we started looking at the available options in international adoption, the program in Kazakhstan stuck out very early on in the research process. We really loved the mandatory 14-day bonding period in Kazakhstan and felt like it gave the children a really positive, healthy transition into the arms of their families. We also felt comfortable with the good level of care in the institutions in Kazakhstan and the extra time we would be able to spend in-country to get to know her birth culture. You can read more about our decision to adopt from Kazakhstan in the post, Adding Another Morningstar
Raw Question: What's wrong with Kazakhstan? Why wouldn't you go back there for another child?
Perhaps You Meant to Ask: Why did you choose to adopt from China?
Answer: When we were starting our journey to Sasha, China fell off of the list of prospective countries very quickly because the wait time for the "regular" program in China had already grown to 3 or 4 years and at that time we weren't looking for a waiting child program. With our second adoption, because we were specifically looking for a waiting child program, China bubbled up to the top of the list immediately. China has a really active, well-established waiting child program, we'll be able to take all of the kids with us on the trip if we choose to, and time in-country should be less than three weeks. It's the right fit for us now. For more information, see the post Our China Adoption Story (chapter 1).
Raw Question: Sasha looks just like she could be yours! Did you specifically choose a child who looked like you?
Perhaps You Meant to Ask: Sasha is such a beautiful member of your family. Did you have specific requests in terms of gender and ethnicity? (but in reality this is a pretty hard one to ask politely :)
Answer: With two boys already in our home, we did tell our agency that we preferred a little girl between 2 and 4 years of age. We had no ethnicity preferences and expected to adopt a child of Kazakh ethnicity. The first time we saw Sasha, Steve and I looked at each other in shock that our daughter was white, completely surprised that our little girl seems to be of Russian/German ethnic heritage! The truth is that she is ours in every way, just as much as either Sam or Ben. We are enamored with her beauty, inside and out, and truth be told I'm sure we'd be just as captivated whatever of her skin color, eye shape, or hair texture might be.
Raw Question: Were you pressured into adopting a kid with special needs?
Perhaps You Meant to Ask: Did you go into the process targeting special needs adoption?
Answer: With Sasha's adoption we were not specifically seeking a waiting child. We went into the process open to some special needs that we thought would be appropriate for our family, and cleft palate was on that list. The reality is that every adoption is a special needs adoption - every adopted kid needs an extra measure of patience and love and acceptance - and we tried to be realistic about this fact as we started our adoption journey. You can read about our experience with cleft palate adoption in the post, Adopting a Child with a Cleft
After our experience adopting Sasha, we fell in love with special needs adoption and knew from the beginning of our journey to WanYing that we wanted to adopt another little one who was having a little more trouble finding her family. So, yes, we specifically pursued waiting child adoption from China. You can read more about this decision in the post, Our China Adoption Story (chapter 1) and about our decision to adopt WanYing in, Choosing WanYing.
You can also read our reflections on special needs adoption in our post, Desert Flowers.
Raw Question: How much did they cost?
Perhaps You Meant to Ask: What are the costs associated with international adoption? (again, this one's a touchy one. Tread with care)
Answer: It's no secret that international adoption is an expensive endeavor. Room and board for 2 months in a foreign country + U.S. paperwork and homestudy + document translation and processing + translator, driver, and facilitator costs = nothing in comparison to the joy and privilege of adding Sasha to our family. China required less time in-country so the costs were a bit lower with WanYing's adoption, but the reality is that both of our adoptions were big commitments - emotionally, spiritually, and financially.
The most important thing to remember with adoption costs is that you are never, ever, paying for a child. That's child trafficking and is always illegal and wrong. With adoption, you are paying for translation, processing, legal fees, travel, visas, in-country facilitators and translators, and a myriad of other items and those add up - but you're never paying a fee for a child.
Raw Question: Was the wait tortuously awful? (ok, this question isn't really impolite, and the answer is yes!)
Perhaps You Meant to Ask: How long did the adoption process from Kazakhstan take? How long did it take to adopt from China?
Answer: It was almost 13 months from the time we signed with our agency and began the paperchase in earnest until we left on a plane to Kazakhstan and then we spent 60 days in-country. Our full schedule is posted under Kazakhstan Adoption Timeline
WanYing's adoption was a little faster, and we departed for China 11 months from the start of our paperchase. Our full China schedule is posted under China Adoption Timeline
Raw Question: Did you find out about Sasha's real mom? What did you find out about WanYing's real parents?
Perhaps You Meant to Ask: Did you get information about Sasha's birth family while in Kazakhstan? Did you get WanYing's birth family information from China?
Answer: We were blessed to get several documents from Sasha's early life so that if she chooses to pursue more information about her birth family when she is older, Sasha will have good information to start with and our full support. We did not meet any member of Sasha's birth family while in Kaz and there are no guarantees that they can be found.
It is very, very unusual to get any birth parent information from China because there is no way to legally relinquish a child, all children must be "abandoned". We pieced together as much of WanYing's early history as possible while we were in China, but are left with many unanswered questions.
Raw Question: Do the girls know they were adopted?
Perhaps You Meant to Ask: How do you share your daughters' stories with them in age-appropriate ways?
Answer: We keep no secrets about our daughters' early life. We decorate Sasha's room with treasures from Kaz, have recorded our journey to her on this blog and in scrapbooks, and talk openly about her adoption. We will do the same WanYing once we fully unpack :). There are hard conversations to come - the truth is that if the girls' early lives were all hunky-dorey, they wouldn't be our daughters. Adoption is always the story of loss and redemption. We will share the details that we know about the girls' birth and first two years in age-appropriate ways. If they choose to talk about those details with others, that's their choice to make - it's their story. Sasha and WanYing will always know that they are some of the great blessings of our life and that we are forever grateful to be their family.
Raw Question: Was it worth it?
Perhaps You Meant to Ask: Knowing what you know now, would you do it again?
Answer: In a heartbeat. You can read our reflections on adoption all over this blog - just start by searching for "adoption" and keep reading :)