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  #1  
Old 12-01-2009, 07:26 PM
kme kme is offline
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Question for international adoptees

HI, I am relatively new to these forums and I have been doing a lot of reading because I have been feeling an incredible amount of guilt regarding my daughter's adoption. She is from Russia. We hired a searcher to find her first family and did find them. They are very poor although this was not the primary reason for her relinquishment. Her reinquihment was voluntary (confirmed by them) but her first mother's sadness was evident in the video tape we received and I lay awake at night thinking about it. I wish my daughter could have some contact with them although traveling to Russia is not possible for us right now. I am wondering what international adoptees think of us sending them money.

I am unsure if this is appropriate or not. They are very poor and I don't want my daughter to wonder how we could have let them suffer without helping them. On the other hand, I don't want sending them money to be construed in any way as payment for my daughter, as if she were a product. She is only 5, too young to voice her opinion. Do I wait till she is older?

Do you have any opinions on the matter? The searcher did tell us that substance abuse does NOT appear to be a problem, although I guess we don't know for sure.

I am beginning to think international adoption may not be a good thing since contact with the first family is so difficult. I would appeciate any input.

Thanks.
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  #2  
Old 12-02-2009, 08:27 AM
Dickons Dickons is offline
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KME,

I'm not an international adoptee but just wanted to let you know that there is a really smart/empathic Int Adoptee that would be a good person to answer your queries. She seems to visit the boards on the weekend or once or twice a week so don't worry if it takes a few days for a reply.

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  #3  
Old 12-03-2009, 05:06 AM
ripples ripples is offline
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Red face difficult decisions

Quote:
Originally Posted by kme
HI, I am relatively new to these forums and I have been doing a lot of reading because I have been feeling an incredible amount of guilt regarding my daughter's adoption. She is from Russia. We hired a searcher to find her first family and did find them. They are very poor although this was not the primary reason for her relinquishment. Her reinquihment was voluntary (confirmed by them) but her first mother's sadness was evident in the video tape we received and I lay awake at night thinking about it. I wish my daughter could have some contact with them although traveling to Russia is not possible for us right now. I am wondering what international adoptees think of us sending them money.

I am unsure if this is appropriate or not. They are very poor and I don't want my daughter to wonder how we could have let them suffer without helping them. On the other hand, I don't want sending them money to be construed in any way as payment for my daughter, as if she were a product. She is only 5, too young to voice her opinion. Do I wait till she is older?

Do you have any opinions on the matter? The searcher did tell us that substance abuse does NOT appear to be a problem, although I guess we don't know for sure.

I am beginning to think international adoption may not be a good thing since contact with the first family is so difficult. I would appeciate any input.

Thanks.
Wow! What a tough decision. I really am moved by how much effort you've taken to find your daughter's first family and genuine care you're expressing both regarding your daughter and her first family. I can fully understand how you'd feel guilty - I certainly felt that way, as did my adoptive father, when we discovered just how poor and messed up my birth siblings are and the life that they and my now deceased birth parents endured. I, too, had many sleepless nights thinking about all their sadness and misery, particularly my birth mom's. I was swept over by immense guilt and the intense desire to somehow ‘rescue’ them financially, legally.

I'm not really sure what to advise. I do understand your desire to help out her first family. And I do appreciate your awareness of how your daughter may possibly react/interpret things.

However, as with any kind of contact, I suggest that you first try to digest your own feelings about the situation and read up on reunion issues, particularly international reunion, so that you can have a better idea of what you, the first family and your daughter may encounter and what you're all prepared to face/deal with cross-culturally. An excellent documentary that shows some of the complexities of international reunion is "The Daughter From Danang" (there's a web site too) - live filming of the reunion and after-math, including the money question.

And you also have to weigh the challenges of how to broach the subject with your daughter - does she know that she's adopted and that you're in contact with her first family? I do know that there are good books about how to discuss adoption with one's children. And there's a very popular book called, "Adoption Parenting: Creating a Toolbox, Building Connections."

How long have you been in contact with her first family? How well do you know them? My gut feeling is to hold off on sending money until you've really thoroughly explored things, options. Don't rush into things, particularly money transactions, until you've sorted out the emotional stuff first.

Would you react similarly with money with a destitute family member whom you hardly knew? When I faced all the confusion of international reunion, particularly the incredible guilt, I was able to sort through my decisions and motives by asking myself whether I would do the same stuff if I had a relative on my adoptive family's side whom I didn't really know that well and who had similar circumstances.

Do you also have access to post-adoption support in your area? I'm a big fan of finding in-person support groups. I would also highly recommend finding some sort of multi-lingual social worker to be a mediator, if possible, it helps ease the intensity as well as bridge language/cultural barriers. I would also recommend reading up on Russian culture so that you are better equipped to comprehend the first family's responses.

And I understand that what's at the heart of things is your concern for how your daughter may handle all of this. Again, my suggestion is to tackle the emotional stuff first and the money donations stuff later. Here’s what I recommend:

1) Read up on reunion in general and international reunion in particular so that you're prepared (as best as possible) for the complex emotional stuff. As part of your preparation, you could also post onto the domestic adoptee forums about reunion and pose the same question about sending money - many domestic adoptions also face huge economic disparaties so perhaps other adoptees may be able to provide opinions on the money donation question.

2) Explore your own feelings so that you're better prepared for dealing with you daughter's and first family's emotional confusion. Reunion can be very fraught with high emotional confusion so the better you understand your own dynamics, the better you'll be able to support your daughter through hers.

3) Figure out how to talk about the subject with your daughter as soon as you can - I think most adoptees would agree that they would rather have known sooner than have their adoptive parents keep secrets from them.

4) Try as best you can to involve your daughter in your decision. I know she's only 5 years old but as with other major life decisions, eg. moving house, I would imagine that her feeling involved will help ease things. Ask yourselves, how much responsibility are you prepared to take on regarding the first family?

Amidst your decisions, do try to do what you think is in the best interests of your daughter first. There are bound to be stumblings in what you do and my view on life is that it's the intentions that count, even if we do mess up big-time or small.

Any kind of reunion is fraught with the scariness and emotions of dealing with uncertainty - and then there's all the grief and loss associated with adoption, domestic or international. You are right - contact with an international first family can be so incredibly difficult because of the compounding effect of cross-cultural/language barriers as well as possible extremes in international poverty.

While I'm not anti-adoption, I am certainly an advocate of our society providing more pre-adoption information and post-adoption support services about the complexities of international adoption. By doing so, hopefully all involved, birth families, adoptees, adoptive families, will be better informed, more empowered and hopefully the pain and confusion lessened somewhat.

I hope this info helps. I really feel for you and your daughter and the tough situation you're in - luckily there are many supportive people here on these forums so you're not so alone in grappling with the various dilemmas of post-(international) adoption.

Last edited by ripples : 12-03-2009 at 05:18 AM.
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  #4  
Old 12-03-2009, 03:22 PM
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BrennaMiriam BrennaMiriam is offline
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Whatever you decide to do :

It's a noble though !
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  #5  
Old 12-03-2009, 06:15 PM
kme kme is offline
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Ripples,
Thank you so much for your thoughtful reply. My daughter does know she is adopted, knows she has a first mother named Rosa. She has not asked many questions yet. I bring it up every now and then so she knows it's Ok to do so but the big adoption questions (mainly, why she was relinquished) have not come up yet.

We have had contact with her first family but have not corresponded a lot. I don't "know" them well at all. My plan is to send them updates a few times a year and hope they continue to correspond with us through the searcher. My daughter knows we have been in contact with them b/c I gave her a picture of her first mother. I am thinking I need to do more reading and continue with more correspondence with her family before sending money. Maybe get some input from our searcher too.

I will definitely look for that documentary that you mentioned as well as the book. I think we are a few years away from an actual in-person reunion mostly due to financial issues (my son has some medical issues we are having to pay for so we don't have extra money right now) but I really do want to take her back to Russia when she is a little older. Researching reunions is something I will definitely need to do. I would really have no idea what to expect. I am also trying to find Russian lessons so we would be able to communicate! Did you speak your native country's language? How did you communicate with your siblings? That is something I am concerned about. I am thinking Rosetta Stone...

I wish there had been more education prior to adoption too. We were educated a lot about the possible adjustment problems our daughter may have initially, but very little about the "long term". We were advised (prior to adoption) NOT to do a search and our social worker actually told us if we told him we were going to do a search then he couldn't recommend us. All I had done was ask about finding the first family. He told us that is really looked down upon by the Russian courts. I just couldn't stand for her to not know anything about them so we went ahead and did it anyway about 2 years after her adoption. We were not given any info on the long term impact of adoption on her. I am surprised by the impact it has had on me. I never expected to feel so guilty or to question my decision to adopt from Russia. I am glad she is not growing up in an institution though.
Again, thank you so much for your reply. It was very helpful.
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  #6  
Old 12-05-2009, 06:16 PM
ripples ripples is offline
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other books on international adoptees

Hi KME,
I empathize with how challenging it must be for you dealing with all these unforseen issues - particularly the feelings of guilt, which I imagine that many people within the adoption triangle grapple with for various reasons. I encourage you to seek support - just as there are parent support groups for non-adoptive families, I think that parent support groups for international adoptive families are an excellent idea - perhaps there are international adoptive family support groups listed in the international adoption forums of this web site?

It sounds like you're approaching the situation as well as can be, given the various complexities. All I can really suggest is to read as much about post-adoption as you can and also find in-person support, preferably a social worker/counsellor who's familiar with post-adoption issues. Once you have more info about the various possibilities, you'll be better prepared to make informed decisions that suit your and your daughter's particular situation.

A very useful book is "Being Adopted: The Lifelong Search for Self " by Brodzinsky, et al. It's written by several psychologists and covers adoption issues as they're faced throughout different times of a person's lifetime - from babyhood to retirement. The book is among the recommended readings of the International Adoption Program that's run by Australia's state of Queensland Module 9 - General reading (Intercountry adoptive parent education)

Another book (also on the reading list mentioned above) that you might find useful is "The Colour of Difference: Journeys in Transracial Adoption" published by Federation Press - it's mainly about transracial adoption from transracial adult adoptees' viewpoints but it might help shed light on some of the issues your daughter may face as she gets older.

As for myself, I had learned Chinese for several years prior to meeting my birth family, had lived in mainland China for several years as well as the Chinatown community in my adoptive homeland, my adoptive parents also spoke Chinese and were Asian Studies scholars, plus I'd seen "The Daughter from Danang" prior to my search. In other words, I consider myself to be someone who was relatively well familiarised with Chinese/Taiwanese culture - and yet I (and my adoptive family) still found the search and reunion extremely gruelling and distressing since we were so ill-prepared, despite our cross-cultural and linguistic fluency.

That's why it is my genuine hope that other inter-country adoptees and their families can be better equipped in future via better community education as they, too, embark on their own relatively 'uncharted' international journeys - geographically and emotionally. It's deeply unfortunate that information pre- and post-adoption is still so lacking. No wonder that the British Association for Adoption and Fostering had found that one in five adoptions breaks down. Hopefuly this will be addressed as our society increases its recognition of the specific needs within the adoption triangle - apparently one in five people has someone within the adoption triangle within their extended family, so we're definitely not alone.

Again, I get the impression that you're doing things with the best interests of your daughter's needs in mind so give yourself a hug and remind yourself of that. My outlook on things is that life in general, and parenting in particular, is fraught with uncertainty and there are bound to be challenges. All we can do is our best with our best of intentions, given the info, capabilities and resources that we have at the time.

I hope this info helps.

Hugs to you,
Ripples
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  #7  
Old 04-08-2010, 03:57 PM
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Mosel Mosel is offline
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Foreign born

Hi...I was born in Germany and my mother and father were poor also. My instinct tells me though that you should wait on sending money until, and if, your daughter expresses a sincere interest in her past. I think staying in touch for awhile might be best. What would you think if 'things went south' for some reason and you had sent over a bunch of money?
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Old 08-08-2010, 04:36 PM
yewforest14 yewforest14 is offline
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Like your daughter I'm also adopted from Russia. While I know absolutely nothing about my biological family I would love the opportunity to thank my birth mother for the decision she made.

As for your dilemma I don't really think sending money is a good solution. I think it would be really cool if, in the future when your daughter is older and more understanding/curious about her origins, you let her decide what to do. Maybe she could send a gift to her first family around her birthday, something like a really nice pot or set of dishes. I think in the end, if you were to do something about her first family's economic situation, sending gifts would be a better option instead of money. That way there is more thought put into it and you know for a fact that they will be able to put that gift to good use.
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Old 08-08-2010, 05:47 PM
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momraine momraine is offline
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I also have a daughter adopted from Russia and we also did a search. One thing I would advise is getting advice from your searcher. They can give you a feel for if the family would be offended or what they really need. It may be that you can send money to have your searcher purchase gifts for them in Russia, that may be better than just money. I have heard of one or two families who have had issues with the first families assuming that all Americans are extremely wealthy and asking for outrageous sums of money. In at least one case, when the family finally said they could not give more (after having sent money several times) the first family threatened to go to court to take the child back. While the first family did not have any legal options for this, it did cause bad feelings and hurt for the adoptive family and probably will impact the feelings of the child one day who will reap the fallout. Now, that is the only story I have heard like that. So I am not saying it's a common thing at all. Your searcher though met these people and might have a better feel for things.
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  #10  
Old 09-16-2010, 02:02 AM
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anilorak13ska anilorak13ska is offline
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yewforest - I agree that gifts rather then money is the way to go, if at all.

My family received care packages via some sort of organization from Norway when I was little in Poland. I guess you could say they "sponsored" me in a way. It was never money, but it was some really cool stuff that we would never have gotten either bc of the cost, availability, or just bc it was from their culture. We sent pics and letters (my grandmother and the family's mom spoke German). So from that perspective, I remember that getting help like that was nice - not something that was the difference between sustaining us or poverty, but something extra, a little luxury that we couldn't afford. So if your daughter has birth siblings, I'd focus on gifts for them rather than money for the family as a whole. Otherwise, you run the risk as some mentioned of building dependency. I mean, would you send money once? Regularly? How much? I think money is too tricky, unless you're independently wealthy and take on financing the family's sustenance.

On the other side of things, we recently fostered a little girl and befriended her mom. Now that they're reunited, we continue to stay in touch and try to help in little ways. For instance, I got her a play yard to make sure she had a safe place to leave baby V while she cooked dinner, bc as a single teenage mom, I was concerned for V's safety. It wasn't much, $80, but I think with the other stuff she's had to get for her (a safety gate, for instance), it adds up. What's more, we did offer for her and her daughter to live with us for a time, which would shorten her commute to work and provide free backup childcare. She's interested, but we'll have to wait until the case is officially closed bc of the problems we've had with DSS and we don't want any involvement from them.

And the question would you do the same for a long-lost relative on the adoptive side as well? We've had several of our relatives live with us in the past, so this is why we see the benefits of how it can help a person jump start or transition their life. And we see baby V's mom as family now, so we only offered the same thing we've offered to our other family members.

I see this thread is a year old, so your daughter's 6 now... my niece is almost 6 and just started kindergarten last week. She rarely sees her bio father, who lives out of state (she's not adopted), and even though she lives with her step-dad and mom, she knows who her bio father is. But I haven't noticed anything that would suggest to me that she understands the concept of wealth or poverty, that some people have more than others, and helping someone in that regard.

I wonder what you've decided to do, or if you decided to postpone sending any assistance?
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  #11  
Old 10-22-2010, 10:09 PM
smyoung330 smyoung330 is offline
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My thoughts..

I am a 27 year old adoptee from south korea. While I am very interested in Korean culture, language, food, life i am not interested in learning anything about my biological family. I have never had the desire to reach out to them or learn about them.

if you do want to send packages or money, it's your decision. It wouldnt hurt one way or another. Just remember that when it comes time to your daughter wanting to learn more (or not wanting to learn more) about her biological family, it's her decision.

what i am trying to say...make sure that her biological family knows that it is her choice when she is old enough to make her own decision about reaching out. (My concern is they will want to reach out to her and that really isnt their decision or yours to make)
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