Wednesday, February 6, 2008

International Adoption and Epilepsy

I have mentioned in a previous post that my husband and I adopted a little girl from China. We brought her home in July of this past year. We have already started looking into a second adoption, knowing that adoptions can take awhile. We also needed to research new agencies this time around because we would not qualify for China anymore and our last agency only handled Chinese adoptions.

We do not qualify for a Chinese adoption under their new adoption laws that went into affect in May 2007. We were fortunate enough to have been logged in and grandfathered under their previous rules in order to qualify for our daughter's adoption referral.

With plans for child number two, we decided that we wanted to persue international adoption again, because that is where our daugther's experiences are from and we thought her having a sibling with a similar background would be good for her. International adoption was the most fulfilling event my husband and I have ever had.

After some research, I found out that many countries will not accept Epilepsy as a medical condition of adoptive parents. I knew this was true of China, but was surprised at how many other countries find it "unacceptable". Through 3 different agencies, we were on the track for an Ethiopian adoption. Everything seemed to fit and we were enthusiastic of the prospect of starting this journey again.

Unfortunately, last week I received a phone call from one of the agencies stating that they had cheecked with their Ethiopia representative and that Epilepsy would be a medical condition that they could not accept into their program. I felt that this may be an agency issue since approval for Ethiopia was so new to two of the agencies. I phoned the other agencies, who then also verified that Ethiopia would not accept adoptive parents with seizure disorders.

All of this came with such a blow. I thought about it all weekend and worried about what my family and husband must think of me. But my husband is always optimistic and very supportive. To him it was just a little bump that we would get over and we would continue on with something different.

I think some of my frustration in all of this is that I do not feel "sick". I do not think of myself as having some type of "chronic" condition. I do not think of my Epilepsy 24 hours a day anymore. I am certainly reminded at least twice a day as I down anticonvulsant medication. That is always my reality check.

People always assume the worst. I was told that when you say "Epilepsy" in a third world country, you are basically saying that you have a death sentence. I am reminded with each rejection that there is still a long ways to go in educating people. Other countries are at a disadvantage as they have so many other larger issues going on. Focus is certainly not drawn to seizure treatment or research in that field when people are starving and dying of Aids.

I have accepted the rejection of the international adoption programs and feel so lucky to have my daughter with me. I will always cherish the time I spent with her in China and will always respect their traditions, customs, and way of life. It is not the type of world that I would like to live in, but it is certainly one that I will accept and face with as much understanding as possible. Read more!