Recognition of adoption shouldn't leave out international families
By Myiesha Taylor and William Schlitz
Myiesha Taylor is an emergency medicine physician practicing in the Dallas Fort Worth region. She and her husband, William Schlitz, adopted their daughter from Ethiopia in 2008.
November has always been associated with giving thanks for the things we cherish in life. For many, that celebration of thanks is centered on family. Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year's provide opportunities for families to travel far distances to be together and celebrate.
Our family's celebration also includes the anniversary of our youngest daughter's adoption from Ethiopia. This December we will celebrate her third year with our family and share with as many friends and family as will listen why they should consider adopting a child.
Coincidentally, November is also National Adoption Month. The purpose of the recognition is to shine light on the many children who have no family and would love to be adopted.
To help support this cause, Rep. Michele Bachmann, R-Minn., who is running for president, and Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-La., have sponsored resolutions "supporting the goals and ideals of National Adoption Day and National Adoption Month." The resolution eloquently lists 19 "Whereas" clauses pointing out the need for, and offering support of, families adopting. The final "Whereas" is the most moving to us:
"Whereas National Adoption Month celebrates the gift of adoption, recognizing the adoptive and foster families who share their hearts and homes with children in need, and raises awareness of the need for families for the many waiting children, particularly older children and teens, children of color, members of sibling groups, and children with physical and emotional challenges ..."
Yet nowhere among those whereases does the resolution recognize the thousands of children and their families brought together through international adoption.
We contacted Bachmann's Washington office about our concerns with the text of the National Adoption Day Resolution, but were unable to make any progress.
The United States has a proud history of helping children in need abroad. Many children have been adopted over the past few decades from all over the world. These adoptions have helped provide loving families for children facing starvation, disease, despair and death. They have also helped provide a compassionate face for America in times when America was not uniformly viewed overseas as compassionate.
When we traveled to Ethiopia three years ago to get our daughter, we came across many other American families in Addis Abba. Many were struggling, like us, to navigate the procedures of our U.S. Embassy and finish the yearlong-plus adoption process. They were there, not for selfish reasons, but fighting for "their newest child" and trying to get the last necessary signature or document so they could obtain their child's travel visa and return home. They needed all the support they could get.
We wonder why this resolution honoring and supporting adoption would exclude recognition of families that have adopted a child internationally. Are those children and their adoptive families not worthy of recognition? Does the U.S. Congress not support families that have adopted internationally?
We understand that there are children in the United States who need loving families to adopt them. Yet denying recognition of international adoption does not achieve that goal. Every child deserves to be loved and have a family. Adoption is adoption. We should celebrate the creation of all new loving families, and not allow the creation of yet another division in our society.
We hope that Rep. Bachmann and Sen. Landrieu will reconsider the current text of their National Adoption Day and Month resolutions and amend them to be inclusive of all American adoptive families.