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Adoption

  Barbara Lau  

INTERNATIONAL ADOPTION

Linda Cook Troyer ’69, an adoption placement social worker with Community Adoption Center Inc. in Green Bay, Wis., is enthusiastic about these developments. She reports, “Age is not much of a barrier in international adoption; this is increasingly the case with domestic placement too. Also, numerous foreign domestic agencies are willing to work with single individuals.” She and husband Michael Troyer ’66 (son of Howard Troyer, dean of the college from 1957-1969) have four grown children adopted domestically and from Korea. She presumes that international adoption is appealing because “their systems are more set in place.” In addition, the waiting time often is more predictable than working with a private attorney.

According to Adoptive Families magazine, the top 10 countries facilitating adoptions to U.S. parents in 2001 were (in order): China, Russia, South Korea, Guatemala, Ukraine, Romania, Vietnam, Kazakhstan, India, and Cambodia. International adoption fees vary significantly, depending upon the agency, country, and whether travel is required. Troyer estimates that international costs range from $8,000 to $30,000, with most adoptions falling in the midrange. Domestic adoptions are often less expensive. Few to no fees are required for older, special needs children as these are supported by public agencies.

Troyer warns that international policies and restrictions change from year to year depending upon political and cultural developments. For instance, the September/October 2002 Adoptive Families reports, “Effective Jan. 2, 2003, all adoptions from Vietnam must be approved by a new foreign adoption agency ... children may only be adopted by foreigners from countries that have bilateral adoption agreements with Vietnam. Only France has such an agreement, but several other countries are negotiating similar agreements.” Nevertheless, she maintains that if prospective parents can be patient and flexible, “Almost anyone can adopt. No one needs to remain childless.”

ADOPTION ATTITUDES

A stark reminder of how much adoption attitudes and practices have improved comes from Dorothea Hinze Herman ’55of Benson, Ariz. She was adopted in Davenport, Iowa, in 1933, when adoption was often regarded as a hush-hush affair. Many agencies attempted to match the physical characteristics of the parents and children, and children frequently were not told about their circumstances until their late teens. On the other hand, some parents never let their children forget they were adopted, rather than “natural born.” In fact, so many adopted children were treated as mere servants or boarders that Herman’s adoption papers contain the following dictates:

Shall attend public school not less time than that required by the school laws of Iowa; shall be provided with suitable and comfortable clothing; shall be given the necessary medical attention; shall eat at the table with the family; and in every way shall be given the same social advantages that a child of our own would receive.

Herman’s parents were attentive and loving, but she encountered prejudicial attitudes and suffered doubts about her past. “One of my mother’s best friends warned her to warn me not to become too interested in her son, as marriage would be out of the question. I feared no one would ever want to marry me,” she says. Later in life Herman, a retired librarian, realized she suffered from feelings of abandonment. “Someone needed to delve into my thinking and straighten me out. Parents should tell their adoptees the reasons for the adoption and what adoption means so that they don’t feel something is their fault. Rather, adoption is their good fortune.”

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