Dear friend, or perhaps I need to more accurately say former friend,
When you said to me, years ago, that you were going to adopt a child internationally and I either needed to support you or no longer be part of the conversations…
I dreaded this day when friendship might no longer be possible.
I recognize that you have researched adoption agencies, flown to another country and back, and participated in umpteen online groups that seem to qualify you as the expert in all adoption everywhere.
I acknowledge that you have poured time, money, and the better part of a decade into your quest to become a parent. I validate your love for this little girl, and I honor the genuine bond you have formed with her.
You love her. Your husband loves her. And yet, you are not happy.
You are a parent many years past the time you had hoped to become one, after a lengthy adoption quest preceded by a failed attempt to adopt a foster child.
I will never forget how you told me that you were glad the foster child realized her mistake in not allowing herself to be adopted by you, that you expressed not one iota of compassion for a young girl caught in a system that failed her yet again.
Instead, your only commentary to me was vindication that this child admitted you were right.
In all our years of friendship, I have never heard you speak this girl’s name again.
Instead, you have a foreign-born model, younger and newer. Pliable. One who will call you “Mommy” and coo ecstatically at your every movement. You and your husband delight in molding her in your images.
You love her, more deeply than a rational human being could deem possible.
And yet, she will always wait for the other shoe to drop.
When she asks about her real mother
When she says that she wants to go back to the country where she was born
When she hides herself under the quilt, sobbing because classmates call her “Chinese eyes” because people like Rosie O’Donnell mock “ching chong” on national television
When she watches your disgust and refusal to eat “Asian food,” the food she would have grown up eating had she not been removed from her family
She will realize your love comes at a price.
Love only you.
You may think post-adoption will be easier without pesky foster child social workers and inspections and those interfering first parents, but you’re wrong.
For your daughter, love will always come with a price and a choice.
You’ve been an adoptive parent for a relatively short time, so perhaps with time you will expand your thinking. After knowing you for a decade, however, my instinct says not. You are defensive, insecure, possessive, and threatened. You have something to prove and exacting standards for the people in your family.
It is no longer any of my business because we have likely parted ways, and I may never get to see your child again.
But I still cry, thinking of her.
Love is not enough.
Providing for material needs is not enough.
Teaching her to love what you love is not enough.
You can never change her skin, her race, her genetics, or her history. Part of her will never belong to you, and you will come to hate her for it.
I beg of you, across the distance and in this letter you will never see
Sending love born of years of experience and research
Blame me, resent me, shut me out of your life
(Ten years of friendship, and you throw it away overnight)
if you consider this child to be your daughter
never make her choose
between who she was born to be
and the girl who needs you as a mother
I beg of you
Please prove me wrong.