Surviving the China Wait as a Second-Time Adopter
by Mary S. Thayer
I desperately want to meet my second child; for my daughter to have a sibling; and for our family to be a foursome.
But it seems that China has other plans. I have no control over that. I understood that going in, but it doesn’t make it any easier. A wait of two years was unwelcome, but doable. A wait that could conceivably stretch to five years—or more—well, that math won’t work for a lot of us.
I don't feel up to starting over again at 50-plus. And our daughter, who just turned four, would always be in a different place than her sibling, essentially growing up as an only child.
When we started this process, a two-year wait was simply a wild rumor. We didn't believe it would happen. Our agency said the wait might go to as long as 16 months, but they were confident that China wouldn't let it get to 18 months. At the time, we felt 18 months was unacceptable. We ventured on and our dossier was logged in December of 2006. What I wouldn't give for that 18 month referral right now!
These days, our agency won't even venture a guess as to when we will receive a referral. With each new batch of referrals they simply state how long that group waited and that the wait "continues to lengthen."
So, as the time drags on, I am mocked by the baby gates languishing on the walls and the boxes of outgrown clothes waiting for the next child who may never come. And while my dreams slip further and further away, the whisper of the unthinkable grows louder and louder in its demand for an answer: How do I decide if and when to let go?
So, I’ve pondered the alternatives in an endless loop, trying to decide which route is right for my family.
Raising an Only Child
One solution is to pull our dossier and raise an only child. This is a particularly tough issue for me, because my sisters are my best friends and I cannot imagine denying my daughter the chance to experience that kind of bond.
Then there are times when I feel compelled to get off the merry-go-round at any price. I’ll arbitrarily pick an end point only to get there and decide I need a little more time—just in case.
A Sibling from a Different Country
We briefly considered applying to a different country, but after attending a panel discussion of adult adoptees raised in transracial families, my husband and I felt compelled to give our daughter a sibling who looks like her and who shares her background. However, with this interminable wait, the question becomes: Is it better to give a child a sibling of a different race than no sibling at all?
This decision would mean starting the adoption process anew. Even if we could find the money—no small consideration—where would we go? It seems most countries are either having program difficulties or are experiencing a huge backlog. And if we do switch, it will require an additional commitment of time, since we’ll need to ensure that both children have the cultural influences and role models they need.
A Waiting Child
A waiting child has been the answer for many families. However, that program has also experienced some radical changes and an influx of families, resulting in longer wait times and more difficulty finding a match. Making this decision also means dealing with the judgment around this issue—whether people who switch mid-stream have the right motivation to parent a waiting child.
Although we haven’t yet made a decision for our future, I have taken steps to make the wait easier, like swearing off the online support groups and rumor sites. It also helps to remind myself that my first path to parenthood was similarly unpredictable. Only after one door in my life closed did another open to reveal my daughter—who has brought me immeasurable joy. Whether we decide to endure the wait, raise an only child, or change our adoption plans, I now feel confident that we will "grow" into our choice and ultimately find the bliss we seek.
Mary S. Thayer recently resurrected her writing career to “fill the space.” She lives with her family of three in Maryland.
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