Posts Tagged ‘ Hague Convention ’

Helping Adopted Kids Be Happy and Secure

Wednesday, June 6th, 2012

As most of you know, my family has finally narrowed down our adoption journey to either looking into a less expensive domestic adoption here through Los Angeles County, becoming foster parents to a multi-racial toddler in need, and waiting less time to adopt. Our other option — our clear preference — is an international adoption with a fantastic Indian Agency in India, where we’ll have to put down $15,000 to simply start the Home Study process rolling. We’d then need another $20,000 to keep that adoption ball rolling and we’d still have to wait years to bring her home anyway.

Here’s the cold, hard truth:  If we had an extra $50,000 lying around, we’d already have a foster daughter in our home. Sometimes that fact kills me but the better, more yogic side of my mommyhood says that all things happen for a reason, that our delay is just part of the adoption journey and maybe we are supposed to wait for a baby. (In a few years she won’t be a baby anymore, that factoid kills me too.)

So while my family waits and waits, fills out some paperwork and keep blaming each other for not saving enough money, not making enough money (blah blah blah I am sick of us already), we forget one thing: Waiting for a kid is not even half the battle. What happens when we finally can adopt either a foster child with some problems (ie: fetal alcohol syndrome, for instance) or maybe even wait for a little Indian girl who is special needs or has been sitting in a sterile Indian orphanage for five years getting less attached, less happy…

Once we have a kid, how do we keep her happy after such a hard start in life?

Author Maureen Healy, an emotional health and parenting expert, says in “Growing Happy Kids: How to Foster Inner Confidence, Success, and Happiness (HCI Books)” there are a few things every prospective parents can do:

  • Build Confidence Daily (even for 5 minutes): The everyday things we do with our children that help them feel stronger, and happier no matter if they’ve been adopted or in process.
  • Get Them Moving: Children need to move their bodies and get their energy released in a healthy way. Because physical activity, eating right, and a good night’s rest are the biological basis of your child’s emerging sense of self-confidence.
  • Get Inspired: Do something inspiring together whether it is going to see magnificent waterfalls, flying a new kite on the beach or learning hula-hooping. By doing something that lights your child up, they learn how to build a new skill and you’ll see their confidence soar.
  • Create an Uplifting Space: Decorate your child’s space so they see happy photos of themselves, their awards displayed, goals (or vision board) hung up and they have their favorite things all around them.

Tell me what you do while waiting for your new adopted family member!

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Actress Katherine Heigl and Husband Adopt Daughter # 2

Sunday, June 3rd, 2012

Is it always easier the second time around?

Adopting your first child is always the most frustrating, enthralling, surprising and emotional experience of most parents lives. Adoptive number two is only less so by a smidge, but most adoption experts tell me over and over again: Once you do it right the first time, the second time is a charm and much easier. You have already proven yourself a respectable and worthwhile parent; you can afford adoption and you did a great job the first time. You are probably safe to do it all over again, from an agency’s perspective.

But is it like getting tattoos? Once you get one for good, are you always temped to get more? Well, just ask actress Katherine Heigl and her hot musician husband Josh Kelley who first adopted a special needs daughter a couple years back. Like many internationally adopted kids, their first adopted daughter Naleigh was adopted from South Korea in 2009. The adoption world went wild because the tyke was considered a special needs child, which she outgrew once she had proper medical care and a full-time mom and dad (with $$$) who could supply her with all the love, devotion and medical care they could afford.

Back then, Heigl said, ““I don’t think it’s for everybody, and I don’t think everybody should adopt,” she added. “I’m not some crazy idealist. It’s not about the cause for me. But I do think no one should ever rule it out.”

Do celebrities get special attention and special rights when they adopt children — either internationally or nationally?

No other details about the latest adoption were available except the new daughter’s name is Adalaide Marie Hope … probably because the pretty couple caught so much attention for adopting their special needs daughter the first time around. Heigl opened up about her personal connection to adoption. 

”We started talking about adoption even before we were engaged because it’s really important to me,” Heigl said. “It’s been a big part of my life and my family. My sister is Korean and my parents adopted her back in the seventies, and so I just always knew that this is something I always wanted to do.”

Bravo to the new parents all over again.

Are you on your first or second adoption? Tell me here!

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Part 1: Adopting a Daughter from Ethiopia

Wednesday, February 29th, 2012

Our Parents Magazine reader, Marni from Philadelphia, wrote to me about her family’s adoption experience. I hope everyone feels just as inspired about this international adoption as I do!

Marni wrote, ” Our daughter Reby — full name Meskerem — came home from Ethiopia in October. We also have a biological son, Elijah, who will be 4 in May. I’m 30 and my husband Joe is 35.”

After studying several opportunities for international toddler adoption, Marni and her family chose to adopt from Ethiopia for several reasons.  She said, “The government seemed to be doing a better job than most countries of regulating adoptions, especially in a country where there are literally millions of orphans.

We have spent some time in Africa, although not in Ethiopia specifically, and have always felt a tie to the continent. Ethiopians place a high premium on family, tradition, and warmth in the home, which are values that we also hold dear. We were excited to become a multiracial family and to learn more about our daughter’s culture and history, which is so unique.”

How Long Does an Ethiopian Adoption Take?

The length of their paperwork-heavy international adoption took about the average, from all research and estimates I could find, about 26 months total. Marni said, From the time we submitted our initial application to the time that Remy came home for good from Ethiopia, the process was about 26 months.”

Tune in on Friday when Mari describes how long she had to wait to finally hold her toddler daughter, and how heartbreaking it felt to watch the calendar tick by without Remy. Remy and Elijah at right!

Straff Family Update: In many countries abroad, such as India, you may never meet your future child at all until the day you literally pick them up from an orphanage. You receive a photo, often not even an online photo, and you go by that picture , following your heart, for nearly two years. My husband Darrin and I have now narrowed our international search down to India.

More on that next week!

Photo at right: Elijah and Remy her first week home

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International Adoption: Understanding the Hague Convention

Wednesday, February 22nd, 2012

The Hague Convention on Protection of Children is a set of internationally agreed-upon ethical standards for countries involved in international adoption.

These standards are designed to protect children, birth parents and adoptive parents, and to prevent child trafficking and other abuses.  Hague Convention countries must adhere to the rigorous Hague Convention standards, and any adoption agency wishing to facilitate an adoption through two countries must sign the Treaty and be accredited.

The Hague Convention for Inter-country Adoption was enacted in the United States in April 2008. To date, 75 countries have joined and follow a stricter set of guidelines than countries that are not operating under Hague. Hague countries are active in preventing child trafficking and abduction. They also make all efforts to find a family within their own country and culture before deeming a child eligible for inter-country adoption.

There are countries that have not signed on to be party to the Hague Convention and are considered non-Convention countries. It is possible to adopt from these countries, but choose a recommended agency who is licensed and operating under the highest standards.

A way to do this is to choose an agency that holds Hague Accredited/Approved which means:

  • The agency makes sure that they are ethically and morally operating in the best interest of the children involved with adoption.
  • The agency makes sure that there is no involvement in child trafficking, abduction, child exploitation, or the unethical “sale” of children.

The Department of State issues Adoption Alerts to caution American citizens about adopting from a certain country. Adoption Alerts may notify that a country has suspended adoptions or that the United States cannot process adoptions from that country. They may also inform prospective adoptive parents and adoption service providers about countries not compliant with the Hague Adoption Conventions.

For a list of countries that have ratified the Hague Convention click here, see the US Department of State site, and for a list of Hague Convention Countries. At this point in our journey, my family will only work with Hague Accredited countries.

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Parents of Adopted African Kids Speak Out

Monday, February 6th, 2012

The world’s fastest-growing platform for social change, sent this to me, and I was amazed at the ongoing humanitarian crisis in the Congo.

Parents of adopted Congolese children have even  joined a campaign on created by Congo native Delly Mawazo Sesete asking Apple CEO Tim Cook to create an iPhone using conflict-free minerals from the Congo.

The campaign was launched by Delly, a Congolese activist and attorney fighting human rights abuses in the mining industry despite violence and death threats.

“My son is Congolese,” writes Melanie White, who joined Delly’s campaign on “We have a moral obligation not to contribute to the causes of war and rape in Democratic Republic of the Congo. No more rapes. No more conflict minerals. No more war orphans.

“Those of us who use Apple products already pay more for them because we believe in their value. I will gladly pay the extra cost of knowing that Apple’s supply chain is ethically sourced. Please do the right thing for the people of Congo.”

Another parent who joined Delly’s campaign, Sarah Schumann, writes, “My adopted son was born in the Congo and it’s important that his country and culture of origin be recognized for the rich and beautiful place it is!”

More than 14,000 people have signed Delly’s online petition demanding Apple commit to creating a conflict-free iPhone using Congolese materials by 2013 –and with each signature, Tim Cook, Apple’s CEO, gets an email in his inbox asking him to make a conflict-free iPhone.

Will you join the campaign? Have you considered adopting from an African country like the Congo?


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