COFFEE CHATS WITH ADOPTIVE US/ UK PARENTS

UK MOTHER

"We didn't give much thought to race... we just thought you'd be a little Chinese version of us."

UK FATHER

"Being an adoptive parents is different from being a birth parent and you need to understand the difference to the degree in which you ever can."

US MOTHER

"We probably had blinders on for a long time... because we had never had a negative reaction as a family - we never anticipated race would be an issue.."

UK ADOPTIVE MOTHER

WHY DID YOU CHOOSE TO ADOPT?

HOW DID PEOPLE REACT?

HOW DID YOU DECIDE WHICH PROVINCE?

HOW DID YOU PREPARE?

WHAT QUESTIONS DID YOU ASK?

WAS IT CONFUSING FOR YOU?

LONG TERM EFFECTS OF THE ORPHANAGE?

DID YOU GO INTO THE ORPHANAGE?

HOW DID YOU SPEAK TO THEM?

DO YOU THINK ABOUT MY BIRTH PARENTS?

“Suddenly you wake up and there’s lots of questions, but we just saw you as little girls playing and growing up and getting on with school. We didn’t see them as late teenagers/young adults questioning who they were.”

“They left you with that little piece of red paper which had your time and date of birth...I thought it was very sad that your birth mother didn’t feel comfortable to give you a name.”

“I do think about your birth mother a lot...On your first birthday I was very tearful.  I wish I could let her know that you were safe & greatly loved. I don’t know how the Chinese mothers cope really.”

“I don’t want you to feel disappointed….To find that missing link is important – but If you can’t – it’s finding the peace in your heart, that this is what life’s all about.”

“We thought we were doing the right thing. In giving a child a home. We hadn’t thought Interracial side of it though.”

HOW WOULD YOU FEEL IF I WENT TO LOOK FOR MY BIRTH PARENTS?

AT WHAT POINT DID YOU REALISE RACE WOULD BE AN ISSUE I WOULD HAVE TO FACE?

WHEN YOU ADOPTED, RACE WASN'T AN ISSUE YOU CONSIDERED

DID YOU NOTICE ANY DIFFERENCE IN THE WAY I WAS TREATED GROWING UP?

DO YOU HAVE ANY REGRETS?

UK ADOPTIVE FATHER

WHY DID YOU CHOOSE TO ADOPT?

HOW DID PEOPLE REACT?

WHY DID YOU PICK CHINA?

WHAT WERE YOUR MAIN FEARS?

WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE?

ON INTERRACIAL ADOPTION

WHAT WOULD YOU DO DIFFERENTLY?

"The two main fears... that the baby we adopted would not love me and I would not love the baby".

"I visualised holding the baby in my arms walking home... by the end of that short journey I had decided I would love an adopted child as much as a birth child."

UK ADOPTIVE FATHER

WHY DID YOU CHOOSE TO ADOPT?

Once Mum and I were married, we wanted to start a family, naturally, but we married quite late in life and time was running out!  Having met a biological brick wall, we leaped into thinking about adoption.  However, we were too old to adopt from this country so we explored alternatives.  This was not our original plan but “the best laid plans of mice and men” do not always follow the original route. 

WHAT WAS THE PROCESS LIKE?

Lengthy, emotional and thoroughly intrusive in that every avenue of your life is examined and recorded before you can be allowed to proceed.  This meant being assessed by the British adoption service first before going through the whole procedure again for the Chinese system.  It took over two years but it was worth every moment.

WHY DID YOU DECIDE TO ADOPT FROM CHINA?

We were inspired to look into adopting from China mainly due to a distressing documentary we watched about the treatment of children in orphanages in China.  This sowed the seed for us and then a friend of Mum’s said she had met a couple in X who had a delightful Chinese girl.  We made contact with them and chatted through the whole process and what it entailed. It transpired they were applying for a second girl so we dove-tailed our application with them, used the same Chinese ‘fixer’ and went with them en route to collect you. It was an amazing journey from start to finish.

US GAY ADOPTIVE MOTHER

WHY DID YOU CHOOSE TO ADOPT?

WHY DID YOU PICK CHINA?

WHY DID YOU ADOPT MORE THAN ONCE?

WAS IT HARD AS A GAY PARENT?

DID YOU THINK ABOUT RACE?

HOW DID YOU KNOW YOUR SOCIAL WORKER WAS WILLING TO LIE FOR YOU?

HOW DID YOU CONNECT WITH OTHER LESBIAN ADOPTERS?

WHAT AGE DID YOU NOTICE ME BECMING SELF-CONSCIOUS ABOUT HAVING GAY PARENTS?

ADOPTION AS AN ADULT

DID YOU WORRY ABOUT OUR MENTAL HEALTH GROWING UP?

HOW DID YOU PREPARE FOR BEING A FATHER?

Not very well probably.  I tried to read a few books which Mum had purchased but I only skimmed through some chapters and paragraphs; I really relied on Mum, as a trained mid-wife, to take the lead.  A lot of the time, I used my own instinct/common sense to guide me through.  On reflection, I am not sure this was the best approach, sorry!

THOUGHTS ON ADOPTING INTERRACIALLY

This really did not enter my thinking at all.  It was only much later, perhaps when you were ten and when friends were asking cultural questions about your origin, did I think things in the future could be different. You were occasionally also asking very poignant questions about China and where you came from which got me pondering things as well.

HOW WOULD YOU FEEL IF I WENT LOOKING FOR MY BIRTH FAMILY? 

I would be uneasy, only from a selfish point of view, and also worried about what you might find.  It could be distressing or uplifting for you but if you wish to find out more, then you have to follow your instinct.

UK ADOPTIVE MOTHER

HOW DID YOU FEEL THE FIRST TIME WE WENT BACK TO CHINA? 

MY RELATIONSHIP WITH MY BIRTH FAMILY

FULL INTERVIEW

THOUGHTS AND FEELINGS ABOUT FINDING MY BIRTH FAMILY

HOW DO YOU THINK BEING ADOPTED HAS AFFECTED MY RELATIONSHIPS?