Open Adoption Challenges Of A South Asian Couple

We’re always trying to come up with new ways to help you make the most of your adoption journey. Today, with that in mind, we’re excited to kick off a new series of interviews with hopeful adoptive from our Find A Family page.

The interviews are designed to serve two main purposes. On the one hand, they will put the spotlight on an aspect of the hopeful adoptive parents’ journey — an experience, expertise or hurdle — that is unique to them. But they will also explore issues that we hope will have appeal beyond the hopeful parents and be of interest to you, too.

At the same time, they will represent a chance for you to get to know our hopeful adoptive parents better and perhaps even help them in their quest to adopt the child of their dreams by spreading their message to expectant parents considering adoption.

Today’s featured hopeful adoptive parents are Preetha and Don from Bloomington, Illinois. Married ten years, they came to the United States from Chennai, India 15 years ago. Both Preetha and Don have a PhD and work as researchers for a family-friendly company.

They enjoy cooking, reading and painting, and say they chose open adoption because they believe it’s important for a child to know where he or she comes from. They are regular contributors to our blog and are working with Independent Adoption Center (IAC), a licensed, non-profit organization. You can learn more about them by reading their open adoption parent profile. We hope you enjoy the interview. Keep watching this space for more hopeful parent interviews in the coming weeks.

How has your adoption journey gone so far?

Right now, we are pursuing open adoption within the U.S. We are working with a non-profit adoption center. There have been ups and downs in our journey so far. We were up and running about a year ago. Since then, we’ve had several contacts from potential birth parents. Some were legitimate and some were not. We also tried to pursue a couple leads from others. Nothing has worked out so far. We’ve been experiencing mixed emotions over the last several months. We’ve learned that there is a lot that is not in our control.

Preetha, when you were ten, you and your mother spent a day at an orphanage in India. What impact did that experience have on you and your desire to adopt?

I think that was one of the most insightful experiences I had in my childhood. When I saw the kids, I noticed that they were all happy and well taken care of. I also realized all the things I had that they did not. As a result of that experience, I made a promise to myself that I would adopt a child regardless of whether I had biological children or not. Nature made it easy for me when I learned that I couldn’t have a biological child through natural means. So, I’m committed to adoption as a path to parenthood.

Open adoption isn’t well-known in India. What was your family’s reaction when you told them about your plans to adopt?

Adoption itself is not popular in India, let alone open adoption. Both our families were very supportive when we told them about our adoption plans. They knew about the struggles we went through to have a biological child, so they were empathetic. However, open adoption was a new concept to them. They had many questions and a few concerns, but we took the time to educate them about the process and the benefits. That helped a lot.

How important do you think race and culture are in open adoption?

We think it is important, and it could (sub-consciously) play a role in the selection criteria that potential birth parents have. It is human nature to gravitate toward others who are similar. It is understandable if birth parents consider race and culture of the adoptive family when they have plans to sustain long-term connections.

As a South Asian couple, what’s the biggest challenge you’ve faced in your adoption journey so far?

The biggest challenge is getting picked by potential birth parents. We are open to adopting a child from a different racial background. However, we have no control over birth parents selecting us. It is likely that we may be perceived to be different or perceived to be “foreigners” despite the fact that we are well assimilated into the U.S. culture.

Based on our experiences so far, all the contacts we’ve received have been from birth parents who were South Asian or from minority backgrounds. So, it appears that we may be appealing to a niche segment of potential birth parents. It is likely that it is a very small pool within the overall population of birth parents. That, in itself, could lower our chances of being selected.

We’ve also tried including our profile on a website that was primarily for South Asian birth moms, but we couldn’t pursue that due to restrictions in state laws.

We do feel bad sometimes when we are not selected or when we can’t pursue certain avenues. From our perspective, we are two highly educated people (both of us have PhDs.) with very stable jobs. We are in a position to offer a child opportunities and rich cultural experiences. It’s a bit disheartening when things don’t work out, and we have no
way to tell if it’s because of the way we look.

How has that affected your adoption networking strategy and your efforts to reach out to prospective birthparents?

We feel we need more exposure and more targeted networking due to our unique needs. We have reached out to certain publications that target Asians and other minority cultures. We’ve published articles in those publications to get the word out. We’ve also sent our profiles to pregnancy centers and women’s organizations in places like Chicago and Florida that tend to have a high population of people of different ethnic backgrounds.

Are you exploring other adoption paths besides open adoption?

Yes, we explored the foster-to-adopt path. We did the foster classes earlier this year. As much as believe in the concept of open adoption, we also feel that to increase our chances of being parents, international adoption is a viable option for us.

What advice do you have for South Asians who are interested in adopting?

It is important to be well educated about the adoption process and the different types of adoptions (i.e., open, closed, etc.). If you are going with adoption within the U.S., have realistic expectations of being matched, regardless of what the agency says. It is worth working with an agency that specializes in minority adoptions. They are likely to network
differently and may be more knowledgeable about different avenues for advertising. If you have the resources, it is good to pursue international adoption because there is more of a guarantee of the adoption working out.

Do you have an adoption story?
Share it with us any time. If you’re a hopeful adoptive parent, adoptive parent, birthparent or adoptee with a connection to open adoption, we’d love to hear your story. Submit it here or learn more by checking out our Guidelines For Guest Posts at America Adopts!