The Red Thread

More or less, an old Chinese folktale tells of a young man who wishes to know who he will marry and learns that he is connected to a surprising future by a red thread.

I know of this folktale because an adoptive parent evoked the folktale this afternoon at Bozeman’s first ever Adoptive Families Picnic while trying to describe how closely connected she felt to her adopted Chinese daughter.

Most of the people I spoke to had similar reasons for adopting–most had to do with age or infertility or some combination of the two. Most chose international adoption because it was easier, especially for older couples; the domestic adoption “market” is not so age friendly, I was told.

None admitted to any qualms about adopting a child from a completely different culture. (Ethiopia, China and Kazakhstan were all represented at the picnic.) Some did remember a surreal moment when the adoption official first handed the child over to them, a strange disconnect between the photo that had been posted on their fridges at home for months and the face that was now looking up at them.

Some said their children had problems adapting to life in the United States, a length of time that varied depending on how old the child was at the time of adoption, anywhere from four days to four months in the families I spoke to, but all seemed happy, healthy and decidedly American at the picnic, snacking on fruit juice boxes and hot dogs.

One man, at 59-year-old software engineer, happy to finally be a parent after years of trying unsuccessfully with his wife, said that parenthood was something “meaningful” and important that he could do. A rare feeling, he said.

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