When we were told, in October 2009, that we were allowed to adopt Qiujun from China and his medical file saying “pseudo hermafroditism” (words still used in China at that time) we sought all kind of information on the internet. I contacted Juliette who was voorzitter for DSDNederland at that time but we also contacted American parents groups. We found a lot of information about Chinese adopted children with an intersex condition and we knew that we had to be open about our childs gender. As you might know, one of the first things other people ask when you tell them you are having a child is, is it a boy or a girl. That question remained unanswered.
In China we received the most beautiful child on earth, with a huge developmental delay but full of life. The first years, it was a long road to let him understand the basics of language, which he did not have (he did not speak Chinese) and let him experience all kind of things in our culture children experience. One day he discovered trees and after a year he realised he could smell things. Of course he always smelled things but he was not aware of that sensory fact of life.
One of the biggest culture shocks in our lives was our first visit with him to the urologist. He started to study him right away, without any sense of privacy or delicacy of being naked before an unknown person. The other urologist entered and told us that our child was a real boy and would only need one operation and then he would be able to pee in the pond with his friends. Since my other two children would never pee in ponds with their friends and I did not know there existed a definition of a real boy, we were kind of shocked. We told them no operations on our kid and they more or less fell of their chairs. They told us we would only find the frustrated stories on the internet, from frustrated people. The good ones about operations that were a success, we would not hear.
After this shocking experience we were glad to be able to contact other parents in the United States and of course Arlene Baratz a medical advisor specialist in intersex conditions. She told me our kid would always be different, no matter what operations he would undergo. She told me we were beautiful parents and strong enough to raise our child our own way. She more or less advised us not to listen to the urologists. So she confirmed the feeling we already had, that it was our child to decide whatever would happen to his body at an age he would understand deeply what the doctors tell him. We also contacted a lawyer in the United States, if we could be forced to let them operate our child. This states how powerless we felt in the urologist presence.
In the United States there is a yearly meeting for parents with children with an intersex condition and persons with an intersex condition. We decided to go there once Qiujun would be old enough and understand English. They were our only contact with others in the same position as we were and we felt sorry to live so far away from them.
Luckely, in Dutch adoption groups we found other parents with children with an intersex condition and we formed a group with yearly informal meetings. With two other families, one of them is here as well, we met more often and our children are getting to know each other better every time. We find it very important for our young children to grow up with other children with more or less the same condition as they have. We feel blessed to have found new friends, who understand the things we sometimes have to face with our beautiful children.
In August 2015 we were allowed to adopt another beautiful child from China with an intersex condition. He completed our family. The story in the hospital repeated itself. We met the same urologist, who told my husband our kid is a real boy and needed only one operation to be able to function as a boy.
Our netwerk in the Netherlands started to grow, we came to know Miriam and Saskia and together with K and Marjolein, who is not here today, we became aware that there were also Dutch families with children born with them, who would like to have more contact with other parents. So we decided to make another facebook group and without knowing she did, Miriam created the name, the Roosjes. This spring, Marjolein, K and I took a leap of faith and organised a meeting for children, family members of and people with and intersex condition. We had a great meeting, without any medical pressure, just a place to talk about issues we are facing while our children were playing together and getting to know each other.
With this organisation we hope in a kind of way to formalise the possibility to organise these meetings. Meetings where we can just be ourselves, in a safe surrounding talking with others, learning from each other and maybe one of the most important things, enjoying eachothers company. We do not have to travel to the United States to meet others anymore, although maybe one day we will, just for the fun of it.
There is one thing that connects us in the first place but so many things that make us enjoy each others company as human beings. Because that’s what we all are, human beings ….