Let Me Tell You What I Have Experienced.
Yesterday I was visiting with a friend who asked me, "it is true they only feed them sugar water?"
I had to laugh. Of course not!
Last week, a patient asked me if I was scared to go to China or if the government might not let me? "Why on earth would I be scared?", I asked. His reply cracked me up. "Because they throw Americans in prison there for no reason." Hmm. I have never heard of an adoptive family being thrown into prison in China and I have never feared that I would be. "No sir, I am not scared to go to China and I think the government is fine with it too."
Have you ever thought about it this way? I wonder what people in other countries say about coming to America? Are they afraid that we might throw them into Guantanamo or accuse them of terrorism? Do they hear one story about a bad foster home (because we do have them) and then draw broad generalizations to all foster homes? Do they think every American man who marries an Asian woman just wants a slave? Are we all spies who want to eat their children? That is what they tell them in North Korea. Just a thought.
I can't speak for every orphanage in China (just like you shouldn't) but I can speak for what I have seen. Ruthie came to us more functional with her hands than her doctors ever expected. They said you could tell that she had been worked with. I have pictures of her with nannies and volunteers on gym balls, outside playing, and smiling. She had some nutritional deficiencies from a very strict diet, but we have recovered from those and she is now doing great.
As for Maggie, I spent a week in her orphanage. I watched nannies following a strict schedule with the kids, I watched them distribute bottles (with formula- not sugar water) with kids names on them that were prepared especially to the needs of that child. I watched them play with them, kiss them, and sing to them. I saw nurses come in and give them medicine if needed. They went outside to play twice a day. I met a friend there who broke down in tears several times at the idea that we would serve China's orphans. The place was immaculate. These kids were taken good care of and they were loved.
So if you are a waiting parent, be encouraged. Your child might not come to you as big as an American kid who has eaten fresh vegetables every day and a side of chicken nuggets, but they are most likely being fed. They may not be co-sleeping with a nanny or being carried in a Bjorn all day, but they are most likely being loved and held. There will be some catching up to do, but it will happen. It happened for us and we are excited to walk through it again. I am thankful for these ladies who have loved my daughters and you should be too. You aren't necessarily rescuing them from that horrible place. You are giving them a family and a future and carrying on the desires for them that each of those nannies shares with you. One nanny there carried around a picture of one of the kids who had been adopted. It was of the child in their new home and she cried when she showed if off. They love your kids and they are thankful for you.
If you are an American but not necessarily involved in adoption, remember that we wouldn't want them to believe everything they hear about us and we wouldn't want them to ascribe mistakes of our past (slavery, etc) to our present state.
One last piece of encouragement. Both Ruthie's and Maggie's orphanages are growing. They are adding on buildings and foster communities because they are closing many of the older more rural orphanages and bringing the kids to the larger ones where they have more services. China is improving in their orphan care and the Chinese are stepping up to adopt more of their own. Be encouraged. It's not perfect, but it is getting better.