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Why don't people adopt locally?

Our first America's Thanksgiving Parade as a family
A friend of mine posted this on Facebook a few days ago in response to the recent kerfuffle between the United States and the Russian governments: 

People are up in arms over Russia's new adoption policy banning Americans from adopting. How about looking at adopting the millions of kids that are in our own foster care system & in need?

The response to her post was mostly positive, with me throwing in my current favorite phrase on to use on Facebook, all the likes (thanks Ryan!).  But a few of the responses showed pretty clearly that there is a bias against adopting kids who are currently in foster care.  On the surface, I know the negative comes from ignorance about how the system works.  But how much of that is willful ignorance as a way to avoid the idea of adopting a kid of another race?

The first negative response was just imbecilic, stating that it's much easier to adopt a kid internationally.  While I can only speak our personal experience; I would have to say the few hundred dollars in court costs are much less then the tens of thousands of dollars in fees, flying internationally a few times and in some cases, having to live in the country you are trying to adopt from for several weeks before you can leave with your child.  The idea that you have no recourse if you find that the agency you worked with lied about mental and physical health concerns also doesn't really make the idea of an international adoption sound easy either.  But I digress.

This is the comment that irked me:
Way harder to adopt healthy kids here. They are being aborted sadly. My husband and I are considering adopting, and unless you are willing to go through the heartache of fostering the child first with huge chances of the fucked up birth parents getting the kid back, than all that us available are children who have highly complicated medical needs and birth defects usually caused by alcohol and drug abuse in the womb. Parents like us with other children find it an I overwhelming feat to adopt a child with so many needs as it takes away from our ability to spend energy on our other children. Those who are willing to take on those challenges should be celebrated! It's no easy feat to adopt from overseas but it is less of a challenge in the usually the birth parents step aside completely and healthy children are more available. Word! Lol
This statement is full of myths, like only unhealthy or addicted kids are available for adoption.  Those might be the children you see the most on websites like MARE, but that is because most families don't want to adopt a kid with special needs, so adoption agencies must work harder to find a match for them.

It also assumes that the only way to find a child to adopt is to become a foster parent first.  At least in Michigan, this simply is not true.  It is a way some people pursue finding an infant to eventually adopt, it is not a necessary step.

What is true about adopting is that it can be a long process.  The number of restrictions potential adoptive parents place on the agency they work with have a lot to do with how long you will be waiting.  If you want a particular age range, it might take awhile to find a match.  The same holds true if you want to avoid health complications or if you insist on having a white child.

Maybe that's what really bothered me.  We called one agency (we ended up going with another for a variety of reasons), and the first question they asked was, "what race do you want?"  Not my name, not how my day was.  They wanted to know what race.  I guess it's a bigger question that I care to admit because I is not a question I feel is legitimate.

Kids are kids first.  Adults place the labels on them.  Yes, there are cultural differences but those are things adults can help kids understand if the adults are willing to drop their biases.  But those labels and cultural differences should not limit anyone from wanting to help.

The entire discussion that followed this post on Facebook did get a little heated, and the person who made the statement that fired me up says race isn't an issue.  And maybe it isn't for her and her family.  But she clearly did not do her homework before deciding to rant about the process, and that is plenty harmful.   

I left the discussion soon after, knowing that staying would only raise my blood pressure needlessly.  This doesn't mean I have all of my questions answered, like why are so many in our country willing to turn their backs on a child in our own country in favor of a child from another country?  Is it a fear of the process that keeps people away?  Or is it as I fear, that we are willing to sacrifice kids in need of a loving home who already live in our neighborhoods because they weren't born with the right skin color?      

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