Friday, November 9, 2012

A Passionate Plea for Equality

In our experience, adoption in Taiwan is not considered to be culturally accepted. Frequently, adoptions take place in secret and the adoptive child is often unaware that the adoptive parents are not the biologic parents. Because of this mindset, many Taiwanese employers do not recognize adoption leave. Being born and raised in the US where adoptions are more accepted, this line of thinking was foreign to us. Below is a letter written to our employer as we struggled with the idea that one of us (my husband or myself) would have a maximum of two weeks unpaid, with our newborn daughter. Please keep in mind this is a result of a cultural mindset and not one of a specific institution. We found our supervisor to be incredibly supportive and sensitive to our situation as adopted parents. After the receipt of this letter, there were changes to the adoption policy at our place of employment.


Our route to begin a much desired family has been one of the more challenging events that we have each undertaken. It is demanding on our emotional systems and difficult at each juncture. So far, three opportunities for children have been taken from us. A baby was placed into Krista's arms to be taken away moments later. A trip to Taipei ended prematurely as we raced home only to find that another family left with the baby. We wait and we wait. Each day dawns with the possibility that it will be "the day" of our family's start and ends with disappointment. Yet, we shoulder on with as high hopes as possible and work almost around the clock to improve lessons for our students

The research regarding adoptive families is clear; the difficulty in obtaining children is a scratch on the surface of our upcoming difficulties. A child begins to make a connection with her birth mother while in the womb and enters the world ready for the love of a mother. Our child will instead meet trauma - the separation from her birth mother. This creates a host of identity issues that have the potential to manifest in a multitude of ways throughout her life. Author after author insists that building a strong connection between mother and child is essential to the emotional well being of this person. The difficulty of creating the connection between an adoptive child and parents is compounded when multiple caretakers immediately enter the life of this new person. Who is she supposed to connect with? Extra choices create confusion at a time when a strong bond needs to develop.

Maternity leave is an important right for mothers. As I'm sure you are well aware, birth creates two immediate needs. One, the mother needs to recover. This is important though in the large picture of the child relatively minor. A new person has entered the world and needs care. It's amazing how helpless we humans can be. The trauma experienced by an adoptive child so soon after birth compounds the need for extended time with the child. The bond between mother and child based on love and trust must be developed in these early days. A biological mother has the advantage of a ready-made bond that needs reinforcement so maternity leave provides the opportunity to focus on the baby. An adoptive mother needs the maternity leave in order to establish a connection.

As a teacher and person, one of my core beliefs is the need for equity. To put it mildly, we are shocked at the implied negation that   policy has regarding our desire to start a family and nurture a new life. The message we receive is that unless we manage to begin a family in a biological manner our family does not meet the cut. It saddens and frustrates us to be in the situation where we both have to work and are in an environment where some mothers receive essential maternity leave while we almost immediately need to resort to an outside caregiver. As any parent, we simply hope the best for our children and when faced with the knowledge of the steep road to creating a bond with our son or daughter are crushed that 
  does not support our challenging path.

What can be done? We will work to find the current Taiwanese law to verify the ruling for adoptive mothers and maternity leave. In the event of information that does not support leave for adoptive mothers, we hope to be supported in an attempt to quickly change policy at  
  . A biological act is only one of many factors in the creation of a family and we hope that as an educational institution the well-being of all families is encouraged.

Frank and Krista

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