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Last Updated: Wednesday, 18 October 2006, 10:05 GMT 11:05 UK
'My international adoption struggle'
As Madonna begins her interim adoption of a Malawian child, one UK reader - who wishes to remain anonymous - tells of the difficulties she faced after adopting a Chinese orphan.

We decided to adopt a child from China because there were so many abandoned girls with no prospect of adoption there.

Because there were so many of them, there was a certainty that we would not be refused.

A mother with her baby
Establishing warmth with an adopted child can be 'hard'
The adoption process was very long and thorough. It took a couple of years. It took one year for a home study to be prepared - a social worker had to establish whether we would make good parents.

After that it took another year for the Chinese government to find a child for us.

The documents from the Chinese government inter-country adoption agency went through the Home Office and the Department of Health first before they reached us.

Then we could travel to Beijing to collect our child.

It was a very clinical process. We were met by a guide at the Beijing airport who directed us towards the hotel.

Problems

The following day we travelled to Wuhan on the Yangtze river where the orphanage was.

At the end of the day, they have a family. At least they have a home
BBC world affairs correspondent Emily Buchanan, on her two adopted Chinese children

Once there, we were taken by another guide to see the child, sign the paper and hand over the money.

It was several thousand dollars in cash, which we were told was for the orphanage.

After the job was done, we were taken by our guide to the all-important shopping locations. It was part of the package.

Once in Beijing, we applied for a UK visa for the child, for which the British embassy charged us 400.

Back in the UK we never got any help or advice from the social services, although they were supposed to visit and ask how we are getting on. Not once, never.

There were signs of problems from the very beginning.

Madonna
Madonna has started her interim adoption of a Malawian child

I didn't have an immediate attachment with the child. There was no attraction between us at all.

She was very distant, she wouldn't let me get close to her. I was told it was quite common with institutionalised children that they initially get attached to either one parent or the other, depending how they have been treated at the orphanage.

I tried very hard to establish a warm relationship with her, but she didn't seem interested in closeness and affections. She wasn't giving any and she wasn't accepting any.

I was never warned about this and I learned about these things as they were happening to me.

I learned that attachment in adopted children is a major issue and there are several post-adoption agencies in the UK, whose aim is to help parents cope with this all too common problem in adopted children.

Our struggle with dealing with it without prior knowledge and support led to the breakdown of a 33-year-old marriage.

Naive

The situation is even more complex for inter-racial adoptions. If I was considering adopting now, I would think very carefully about inter-racial adoption.

I feel that a child brought up in a family of a different race to its own would find it very difficult in the years to come to establish its identity and sense of belonging.

We were advised to familiarise ourselves with Chinese culture so that we could introduce it to our daughter.

But it is not easy to introduce a child to her culture. Children regard themselves as no different from their foster parents, and in the early years they would regard the culture they grow up as their own.

If Madonna wants to make a difference she should sponser schools and further education for kids in Malawi
Jerrymac, Uckfield

It is only once they grow up when they realise that this culture is alien to them, but they have no other alternative to hang on to.

The more I read about it, the more I think that it is the wrong approach. People who adopt inter-racially are a little selfish and naive.

They think that they can offer a child from anywhere a normal upbringing but that often proves to be very difficult in reality.

There are many other ways to help orphaned children without taking them out of their world.

I am not saying that it is wrong to adopt in general, but one should do it in the full knowledge of the difficulties that come with it.



SEE ALSO
Madonna defends adoption of child
17 Oct 06 |  Entertainment



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