Thursday, January 12, 2006
Mari and Vivi
This is Mari and her little daughter in the bunny ears - Vivi.
Vivi was found outside an orphanage in China (don't know which province) with her umbilical cord still attached (i.e. at most a few hours old). She spent the first 10 to 18 months of her life in that orphanage with lots of other kids like her.
Within those 18 months, Mari and her husband were being inspected at least once a week by Social Service workers (SS). The SS scrutinized every single aspect of their lives - how much money they earn, who their friends are, what they have in their cupboards. Random spot checks were also conducted in addition to the normal planned appointments, and they had to go through several rounds of interviews with the SS, who contacted friends and relatives to confirm everything they declared in their official statements. It was like living in a fish tank with your life on constant display. From quick internet browsing, I understand that international adoptions are an expensive process as well, so they were paying to have their lives put under a microscope.
2 factors helped them through the "fish tank for 15 months". Firstly, being lawyers kinda helped them make sure that everything they said was clear and consistent. Secondly, they really really wanted to have Vivi in their lives, so they reminded themselves that every intrusion of privacy was for her sake.
So 18 months and lots of trips to China later, Vivi had a brand new Finnish passport and loving parents. Vivi is growing up to be precocious and intelligent child who speaks Finnish very well, although Mari wants Vivi to learn Chinese a little later. They are keen to let Vivi know her roots and let her know about her past.
Recieved wisdom about adoption have changed greatly in the last 20 years or so. Previously, social workers tried to match children with the same eye and hair colour as adoptive parents, so that parents could choose not to tell their kids about their adoption. The new catchphrase now is "open adoption", where adoptive children can choose to maintain contact their birth parents where possible.
I really admire them. Nobody pores over your life like that when you decide to have a biological kid. Pregnancy only lasts 9 months and even long labours last as long as say, 40 hours. It really is not all that much compared to what Mari and her husband went through to get Vivi.
Purely through unofficial sources, I found out that Fabien and me are (according to old fashioned SS) not prime candidates to be adoptive parents, primarily because we are fertile. Even if we decided NOT to have biological children and only adopt, the authorities would have placed very little weight on our application. This is because they think that we would make better adoptive parents if we were actually unable to have our own children (which I think is complete and utter hogwash).