My niece joined the family on July 12th, 2010. This special young lady's mother is my younger sister, which in classic Chinese culture makes me her Jiu Jiu (舅舅) -- thus the title of this blog. Here I intend to semi-regularly post reflections, thoughts, stories, and assorted whathaveyous pertaining to our trip to China, adoption in general, and (mostly) watching my niece grow up. Since the web is a very public place, I will attempt to maintain my family's privacy while telling the story... but I invite you to follow the blog and come along for the adventure!

Sunday, April 15, 2018

Insights & Reminders

Sorry, gang -- this one's not directly about the Pipsqueak.  I have "adoption" as a keyword in my online newsfeed, and every now & then I'll find an article actually talking about humans. (I have yet to find a way to filter out the eleventy-seven thousand articles about animal adoptions and/or adoption of different technologies.)

Earlier today I came across an article, published online in the Irish online newspaper TheJournal.ie and written by Paul Redmond[1], that shows the impact adoption can have on a society or nation in general terms... and that (obviously) got me thinking.  Adoption numbers may be larger than the average person thinks; a 2012 study by the University of Oregon showed that 2.4% of all American families have adopted, and that 2.5% of all children under the age of 18 in the U.S. were adoptees. Of course, in cases like ours, it's obvious to even the most casual observer that Miri is adopted -- but there are many, many cases where the only way to know someone is adopted is to ask.

Adoptees have to face issues that the majority of people never even think of. For example, almost everyone reading this will know the date & location, and possibly even the time, of their birth; Miri's birthday is an educated guess based on a medical examiner's estimate of her age when found, and the most information she'll ever know about the location is that it's one of 61 counties in the Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region[2].  That may not sound too important, but that might be because it's not your identity that includes guesses & estimates instead of hard fact.  Extend that kind of fuzzy data into areas such as genetic background & medical history, and you've got a collection of cans of worms (potentially with teeth)  to deal with.

Most folks will think about that for a moment, shake their heads (maybe even think it's wrong), and go on with their day because of the, "it doesn't affect me directly" idea... but what are the actual numbers for people directly affected by adoption in some way even if they are not adoptees themselves?  According to several sources, 2.4-2.5% of the U.S. population is adopted, so many people might figure it's not a big deal... but worldwide, that numbers can be quite a bit larger.  Take, for example, the article I mentioned at the beginning of this post; it's titled, "So you think adoption has nothing to do with you?" and has its basis in an adoption-related scandal that shook Ireland some time ago.

The article points out that it's not just adoptees who are affected by adoption, and uses some very logical numbers to show that nearly twenty percent of the entire Irish population is directly affected by adoption. That got me wondering what would happen if the same analysis was applied here in the USofA.  First, you have the adoptive family, the majority of which include two parents.... so instead of one person affected, you have three. Then there are the biological parents of the adoptee... so now we're up to five people affected by a single adoption.  Even if we don't expand beyond those numbers (as the article does), that shows at least 12% of the U.S. population[3] is affected by adoption in a first-person, immediate family sense. Factor in grandparents (at least 4 per adoptee) and the number jumps to about 73.3 million people. Factor in siblings[4] and the number jumps to about 78.5 million people.

That's slightly more than the entire 2017 populations of California, Texas, and Georgia combined.

( . . . Whoa, Dude, that's a lot of people...)

Remember, these numbers are just for adoptees and their families (minus any siblings the adoptees may have in their bio families, a number I couldn't figure out).  Add in the number of people who are partnered with or married to adoptees, and the number grows to around 80.1 million. And if you really want to run into big numbers, try figuring out how many more people work with and/or are friends with adoptees and all of a sudden you're dealing with at least 160 million Americans.

So... Next time you think about adoption, keep in mind the fact that in some way it affects the lives of almost the entire population of the nine most populous states (California, Texas, Florida, New York, Pennsylvania, Illinois, Ohio, Georgia, and North Carolina) combined[5].

So it probably affects you, too.  :-)

[1] You can read the original article at http://www.thejournal.ie/readme/column-so-you-think-adoption-has-nothing-to-do-with-you-3949070-Apr2018/.

[2] In her case, we can narrow it down to one of 11 farming villages and/or the nearby market town where she was found... not exactly precise data.

[3] A quick Google search for the population of the U.S. returns the number 325.7 million; if 2.4% of all Americans are adopted, that's a total of 7,816,800 people. Multiply that by 5 and you have nearly 39.1 million people affected in the first person by adoption.

[4] It is extremely hard to find good numbers on how many American families have adopted or how many have adopted more than one child, but my (admittedly rough) math left me with a guesstimate of about 2/3 of all adoptees having at least 1 sibling, which would be a total of 5,211,200 people (which I rounded down to 5.2 million).

[5] The number is potentially a great deal larger; my calculations included only two sets of grandparents (one per adoptive parent) instead of the actual four sets (adoptive mother's parents, adoptive father's parents, biological mother's parents, and biological father's parents). If you add in the second set of grandparents you'll end up with more than 191 million people directly affected in the U.S. alone.