[blindkid] Adoption from China

holly miller hollym12 at gmail.com
Thu Feb 11 17:51:07 UTC 2010

You pose a good question Heather.
The short answer is just like a child you give birth to, when you adopt a
child there are no guarantees as to what issues you might end up dealing
with.  A person definitely needs to go into this being wiling to take a leap
of faith and be prepared to deal with whatever may come.  There's no factory
warranty.  I hope this doesn't sound harsh, I don't mean it to be.  I'm
thrilled when someone chooses international adoption but I'd never criticize
someone who doesn't.  We all have to make the choices that work for our own
family and it's important to understand and be realistic about all the
factors before making those choices.  Domestic adoption doesn't come with
any guarantees either and has it's own unique pitfalls but in most cases
you'd be able to meet the child and draw your own conclusions before you
commit, that might be an option to explore.

For the longer answer, I can only speak about the China adoption program, I
am not well versed in adoptions from other countries. China is considered a
very stable & "safe" country to adopt from a paperwork/process point of
view.  The rules and fees are clearly stated up front and are applied
consistently.  While there can be some horror stories dredged up on the
internet, overall there are very few surprises when it comes to the process

The information about the children is controlled by China, not the
individual adoption agencies.  The files on the children are prepared by the
orphanage staff and then filtered through the central adoption office in
China run by the government. Those files are then distributed randomly to
the various agencies in the US.  As far as the quality of information about
a child, it's pretty much consistent across all agencies.  Meaning that no
one agency gets better information than another.  There are occasions where
an extra nugget of information turns up through someone visiting the
orphanage or other back channels but that's hit or miss, not something that
can be counted on.  You absolutely should research any agency carefully, get
personal referrals, compare fees etc.  Doing an internet search will find
you lots of blogs & message boards. There are good agencies & bad agencies
but that has more to do with their business practices than the types of
children they place.

Generally speaking, China does not offer children up for adoption that are
known to have a severe mental disability.  The key word though is known.
Things do slip through the cracks, both for mental and medical issues.
Medical exams are cursory. The quality of staff (and care) varies greatly
from one orphanage to another. The person compiling the report may be a
qualified social worker or may be a layperson checking off boxes.   Some
organic conditions may not be apparent at a very young age and the files are
put together several months or even over a year before a potential parent
reads them.  It may be another year before you bring that child home.  A lot
can change in that time and you won't necessarily receive updated
information.  Even if the child does not have an organic brain issue, you
have to consider the emotional effect being raised in an institutional
setting can have.  Different kids have different levels of resiliency but I
dare say no child comes through entirely unscathed.  Virtually all children
will have delays in comparison to their homegrown peers, simply from lack of

For us personally, Hank's file said his eyesight was normal.  He had never
had an actual eye exam, this was based on the observations of whoever filled
out the forms. I don't think there was any deception involved, I think the
person filing out the forms honestly didn't realize he was visually
impaired. Most likely they didn't know anything about Albinism except that
it makes his skin & hair white.  He is legally blind but he developed very
good coping skills for himself.  I can understand the casual observer not
realizing he has vision problems especially since he was a toddler at the
time his file was created. We knew going in he had Albinism and I had done
enough research to know his vision had to be impacted in some way.  If we
had gone by the report alone, we would have had a big surprise.

We did have a little scare when we were in the paperwork process.  A parent
who had visited the orphanage contacted us to say they had seen Hank (he's
easy to spot in a crowd!) and he was grouped in the room with the kids that
did have mental disabilities.  They didn't get to interact with him but they
wanted us to know they were concerned that it was apparent these kids were
segregated from the more typical children and Hank was in with that group.
Obviously we went forward anyway but it did cause concern and there was no
way to get clarification.  Turns out Hank has no cognitive issues, in fact
he's exceptionally bright.  Why was he in that group of kids?  I can't know
for sure but I have a hunch it's more of a statement to the cultural beliefs
about Albinism more than anything about Hank's abilities.

He does have emotional scars from his upbringing. He was almost 6 when we
adopted him and he came from a place that no child should be subjected to
for even a day. That is a bigger impact on our day to day life than him
being blind.  Even though I did my homework, even though I spent lots of
time talking to the been there, done that crowd, his emotional issues were a
lot harder to handle than I ever imagined.  Is he a great kid?  Yes!  Do I
love him with every fiber of my being? Absolutely!  I don't regret adopting
him for a second but I've got to say, I wouldn't have thought I was strong
enough to handle this before I actually had to handle it.  Then I think
about how strong he had to be just to survive to the point he could be
adopted and it stops me in my tracks.  He is an incredible child.  I know
every mother thinks that but there's something about this kid.  People are
drawn to him.  Even at NFB functions, I can introduce myself and get that
kind of blank "who is this lady?" smile.  Then I say "I'm Hank's mom..." and
I get "OH!!!!  I love Hank!!!!"

Ok, I think I've rambled on enough!
I hope all of this is taken in the spirit intended and I'm happy to clarify
anything the best I can.

aka Hank's mom

On Wed, Feb 10, 2010 at 11:40 AM, Heather <craney07 at rochester.rr.com> wrote:

> I have always been interested in how one might go about adopting a blind or
> VI child from another country, but doing so and being sure that the child is
> blind only, without mental retardation could be difficult, especially if the
> child is quite young, has been abused or neglected, or if the agency lies to
> move the child out of the program.  In your opinion and experience, are
> there opportunities out there, perhaps with the agency you mentioned, to
> adopt blind children, for whom blindness is their only disability, or where
> the system will be up front about the number, type and degree of special
> needs?  Adopting is a wonderful thing to do, and I, as a blind parent, of a
> blind mother and sighted father, feel that I could offer something special
> to a blind child in need of a family, some time in the future.  Thoughts??

More information about the blindkid mailing list