Johns Hopkins University
Fall/Winter 2006
Vol. 4, No. 1

NEWS

> New Faces, New Digs

A Merger with Momentum

Stellar Achievements

Beyond the Ivory Tower—to Museums

New Faculty Arrive on the Scene

A New Schedule Aims to End "Binge" Learning

Student Standouts

Faculty Books

> Your Words


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Your Words

International Adoption: Not Always a “Rescue” Effort

After reading the article about international adoption in the Spring/Summer 2006 issue, I feel compelled to write. My husband Ken and I have adopted four children from India—an infant in 1996, a toddler in 1999, and older siblings, ages 6 and 4, in 2002—and our experience could not have been more different from that described in the story about the DeSimone family [“Journey to a Family”]. Our children all came from an orphanage that can only be described as wonderful, and the complete opposite of the one described in Cari Ugent’s essay.

Our kids’ orphanage provided excellent child care and medical care, kept detailed and accurate records of each child’s health and development, and offered informal schooling to the older children. Our first two daughters, ages 9 and 19 months, respectively, at adoption, wanted nothing to do with us when we first arrived to meet them; they knew we were strangers, and much preferred their caregivers.

During the adoption process, there were the usual piles of paperwork and unexpected delays, such as the eight-week wait for “official paper” on which to print one of our daughter’s Indian passports. We had our own experience with a fickle judge, who objected to the fact that my husband and I had chosen to build our family through adoption without attempting to have biological children. However, there was no bribery, and the process from referral to travel followed the sequence of events that our agency outlined for us.

Our children were made available for overseas adoption only after it had been determined that domestic adoption within India was not possible for them. About 75 percent of the children at this orphanage do find adoptive families within India, and that percentage is steadily increasing.

Happy as I am for the DeSimones, I feel that articles such as this perpetuate the perception that American parents adopt children from overseas in order to “rescue” them, and that orphanages are, by definition, Dickensian in their squalor. How about a broader look at international adoption?

Susan Powell MD, A&S ’85

Olympia, WA

We welcome your feedback. E-mail the editor at aps@jhu.edu or send a letter to Arts and Sciences Magazine, 237 Mergenthaler Hall, Johns Hopkins University, 3400 North Charles Street, Baltimore, MD 21218.