A lot of my conversations regarding our adoption lately have gone a little something like this…
Friend: So, I read on your blog that you guys are open to either gender. Doesn’t everyone who adopts from China get a girl? Don’t the Chinese families keep all the boys?
Me: Well, actually, by not specifying that we want a girl, we are actually more likely to be matched with a boy. Adopting from China has changed so much in the last ten years that the children who are eligible for adoption from China are actually pretty 50/50 boys and girls. There are just WAY more families requesting girls, so we’ll probably get a boy. And we would be thrilled with that.
Friend: But don’t they just abandon all the girls because they want boys? Because of the one-child thing?
Me: Yes and no. The rural families do prefer boys because they need to care for the family as they age, but they only want the healthy boys. We are adopting from the “Waiting Child” program which means our baby will have at least some minor/correctable medical needs. There are just as many boys in this program as there are girls…just fewer families requesting the boys.
Friend: (Quietly) So, are you, like, adopting a kid who will be wheelchair-bound and never be independent? (insert look of horror)
Me: Well, we are mostly open to minor and correctable needs like cleft lip, minor birthmarks, and minor heart defects, so most likely, no. But we never really know what cards we’ll be dealt in life, do we? Any of us – Carter, Kate, me, you – could be injured and left wheelchair-bound tomorrow in a car accident, and we’d do what we need to do to carry on. There are just no guarantees in life, are there?
Friend: (Crickets chirping)
Okay, so in all seriousness, I do have conversations like this ALL. THE. TIME. I keep having to fight this misconception that there are only girls adopted from China, so I wanted to take a minute to address it.
FACT: In the 1990s, there were THOUSANDS of healthy infant girls who were adopted to the United States due to the one-child law and China’s societal preference for boys.
FACT: As much as I’d love the return of parachute pants and Paula Abdul, thank God it’s not the 90s anymore…
FACT: In 2015, families pursuing the “healthy infant” program from China are waiting 9+ years for a baby, and virtually no agencies are even offering this program to new families anymore. Almost all adoptions from China in the last 5 years have been children with identified medical needs…many of which are very minor or repaired prior to adoption.
FACT: China does have a societal preference for boys…but that preference is for HEALTHY boys. Boys who are born with any sort of deformity (correctable or not), medical concern, or illness are considered bad luck for the family, so these boys are typically abandoned somewhere they will be quickly be found.
FACT: China does not have affordable, quality health insurance. Children who have medical needs and need corrective surgery (even minor surgeries like cleft lip repair) are often the ones discarded by families because they cannot afford the expensive upfront cost of the surgery. They literally have no choice but to abandon and hope someone can care for their child. In the cases of babies with heart defects, the decision is often life or death.
FACT: Health care in China is…how do I say this…not up to par with the USA. Often, children are misdiagnosed and families abandon their children out of fear. I read about the precious little boy you see below on a blog yesterday. This beautiful boy was found near a trash pile at just a few weeks old. Let that sink in a second. A trash pile. He was diagnosed with a very mild heart condition once he came to his orphanage that simply needs monitoring. No scary surgery. Just watching and regular check-ups. The foster home that cares for him now speculates that a doctor probably got it wrong and told these parents he had something much more serious when he was born. Talk about tragic…on so many levels.
[I mean…y’all. That perfect little face. The sassy tongue. The perfect little almond eyes. I die.]
FACT: More than 80% of families who apply to adopt from China specifically request a girl, according to our agency. I have no idea why. I wish I did. I don’t know the answer as to why…but thinking of all the boys with minor medical needs who wait longer for families JUST BECAUSE THEY ARE BOYS breaks my heart. One agency we spoke to actually told us that merely being a boy was considered a special need because so few families requested boys. When we told our agency that we were open to either gender (but I shared that I secretly preferred a boy…), she literally cheered on the phone and told us how thrilled she was to hear that.
So, let’s sum it up. YES, there are boys who will walk and talk and one day leave the nest available for adoption in China. It’s not a myth! We will continue to remain open to either a boy OR a girl. We know that God wrote our perfect story long before we were even walking this planet, and we cannot wait to see how it all unfolds.