Posts Tagged ‘ Hague Convention ’

Beginning the Adoption Process: International

Wednesday, January 25th, 2012

After months of examining different agencies that represent and work with various countries, our family has honed in on adopting a young daughter from India. Like many other prospective parents, when choosing an agency, we picked the most recommended international agency that serves the country we prefer to adopt from. Make sense?

Once you pick the country, you begin a process that starts with laying out some serious bills. After talking the costs over with two other families that adopted from India, we’re thinking we need to save up a lump sum around $15,000 to initiate our home study and get the wheels turning. That will be about half of what we need to complete the international adoption withing two years or so.

A homestudy from your chosen adoption agency is a long and detailed document written by a social worker who will interview, at length, prospective adoptive families. (I’ve also heard the home study called a number of different things, and spelled differently so be careful and do your homework.)

Before those interviews can be scheduled, you are asked to provide a long list of documents: birth certificates, marriage licenses and divorce decrees, proof of employment, proof of health insurance, tax forms, medical forms, references, and financial statements.

This all takes months, but it’s also beneficial for you as parents to begin emotionally preparing to add someone else into your home. Right now, my husband Darrin and I are beginning to make copies of our marriage certificates, employment checks, the works. This forces us to keep discussing our strategies, our foundation, our plans. But the fact that we’re both freelancers works against us because we don’t have paychecks.

Creating your worry-free home study is much easier if you designate one of you to be the point-person on all documents, and it helps to pick the most organized partner to initiate the adoption process, which is my husband. Darrin [see him cuddling our biological son Sam in photos above] keeps receipts neatly for years; he also wants to adopt a child more than me (he always has) so it falls to Darrin to set our timeline on completing a homestudy.

Hey Adoptive Parents! If your adoption homestudy took less than four months, can you give me some tips?

Your homestudy agency will supply you with all the specifics. But it’s a great place to start. Next up:  Weed out all the countries that won’t have you for potential parents so you won’t waste any more time dreaming of those kids (this happened to us), so tune in next time to The Adoption Diaries on Parents.com!

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Adopting from Haiti? Still an International Nightmare

Friday, January 13th, 2012

I have a soft spot for the poor, neglected children orphaned in Haiti, the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere. About six months ago, I visited the adjacent country of Dominican Republic and talked to natives there about the countless Haitians looking for work in neighboring cities. The situation is most terrible for the children.

Haiti has long been a nation of suffering. Here are the latest statistics I can find from certifying world bodies:

  1. Nearly 80% of Haitian lived in abject poverty.
  2. According to most Center for Disease Control stats, over 10% of the child population die before the age of 4 most often from malnutrition.
  3. Almost 7% of children were enslaved after the earthquake when one or more parents died.
  4. Today at least 45% of the Haitian population is illiterate.
  5. Following the catastrophic earthquake of January 2010, conditions are much worse for the Haitian people. Especially little ones.

Two years after the earthquake, tens of thousands of families still huddle under tarpaulins strung off of sticks and broken timbers in enormous tent camps, with no access to toilet facilities or potable water. Cholera has killed thousands. Families are shattered.  The need for effective and accountable aid for Haiti is greater than ever before. Things just keep  getting worse there.

All Blessings International is one adoption agency I’ve been in contact with that is proud to partner with Brebis de Saint Michele de L’Attalaye, or “BRESMA”, a Haitian orphanage with a long history of providing effective aid to Haitian children and their families.

In the past, it was common practice for families in the village of Castaches to send their children away to be servants/slaves in Port-au-Prince or other large cities, in the  vain hope that the wealthy families they served might provide them with some sort of education and steady supply of nutrients.

According to All Blessings, my family is not able to adopt from this poor illiterate country because we are too old ad also, strangely, we cannot show our proof of Christian religion. (My husband is Jewish and I am an atheist so we are really screwed in this country, not a chance of adoption here.)

All Blessings has almost completed a new facility that will allow them to serve 70 more children at a time – 70 children with very little hope for survival otherwise. According to All Blessings, these are the things the county needs most for their children:

  • Funds to complete another new orphanage building
  • Sponsorship for Women’s Economic Empowerment Program
  • School sponsorships
  • Vaccines and pharaceuticals for the orphanage

Stay tuned while my family narrows down our international search for an Indian daughter, more next week. And tell me your inspiring adoption story here!

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Part 2: International Adoption from Russia, Success Story

Tuesday, December 6th, 2011

Bringing Baby Dillon Home from Russia: On Wednesday we met John and Arina Kirk who finished all their paperwork and adopted internationally in under a year!

Those final few weeks of waiting to take their son home were excruciating. Arina remembered, “Eight weeks later, we went back to St. Petersburg for our court trip and heard our 18-month little boy laugh for the first time the day before we went to court. We brought him home on April 16, when he was 22 months old.”

Arina spent the first month he was home wearing Dillon in an Ergo. “He was still eating baby food in the orphanage, and we had to teach him to eat solids of different textures. He then ate like a high school football player for a few months and he grew 4 inches –  from the 10th to the 50th percentile in height for his age. Things are normal now, and he’s a very adventurous eater.”

As most adoptive parents will attest, there were many adoption roadblocks that made this savvy couple take note with the international process, and they began discussing how to improve the experience for other couples. “Like most couples, we followed instructions without understanding what was really happening. We chose our agency because they have a wonderful reputation and a proven track record, but at the same time we had heaps of paperwork ripe for miscommunication.

“We collected letters from our employers, from the police department, and from a psychiatrist, all to verify our responsibility and ability to parent. This was difficult, and we went back to each of these entities multiple times to fully understand the process.”

John Kirk has a deep background in sales and technology. Arina said, “When we realized that our excellent adoption experience could be improved with technology to facilitate document completion and keep families apprised of status changes, we started exploring the idea. It seemed so clear and logical to us that we knew we were onto something.”

Today, the happy new family has founded on online adoption service software which aids adoptive families with attorneys, home study agencies and adoption training organizations.

Thanks to this happy adopted family (all photographed on the right) for starting our December off right! Tell me your adoption story too.

Photo: John, Arina and Dillon

Update: Arina and John Kirk asked that we remove the full price of their Russian adoption.

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Part 1: International Adoption from Russia with Love

Tuesday, December 6th, 2011

This international adoption story occurred just last year for one lucky family. Join me again on Friday for the finale:

John, 49,  and Arina, 33, live in North Carolina and were unable to conceive naturally for several years after they married. Arina said to me recently, “We decided to pursue adoption instead of exploring infertility treatment. We were drawn to international adoption because we wanted a closed adoption, and we also wanted to help a waiting child.”

The couple actually built a spreadsheet of countries and their requirements, and  started narrowing down their options. Arina said, “A friend had adopted from Guatemala, which was appealing to us, but their program had just closed when we began looking at our options. Of the countries we were eligible for, Russia’s program seemed to be the most stable. We found an international adoption agency and began the process,” she said.

The couple submitted our initial paperwork in September 2009, and they were completely finished with the dossier in December. Their home study was completed shortly thereafter.

This quickie adoption strategy is short, fast, sweet — and very expensive.

Arina remembered, “To our great surprise, within two days, we got an early morning call from the agency. They had a referral: a boy of 18 months! The photo made him real suddenly, there was a real child at the end of this process, and we were doubly invested.”

The couple rushed to complete the remaining paperwork, and traveled to St. Petersburg in January 2010. The new mom said, “The locals seemed to take great delight in telling us it was the coldest winter in recent memory. It was 30 below. The orphanage was hours away by car over icy roads… Then, although he was clearly scared  and reserved when we first met him, our son walked in and everything was wonderful.

“Dillon stole our hearts after two days of visiting with him, and he wouldn’t let go of John when it was time for him to return to his caretaker. Leaving him behind was so very, very hard, as was the uncertainty about when our next trip would be,” Arina said.

Eight weeks later, the couple returned to St. Petersburg for court dates and embassy legal proceedings. She said, “We made the trip to the orphanage again, and heard our little boy laugh for the first time the day before we went to court. Our three-hour court hearing was nerve-wracking, but at the end of it, we were granted parenthood! We returned home, again without our child, to endure the 10-day waiting period before the decision took effect and we could claim Dillon.”

Two weeks later, the family returned to Russia, this time with clothing and supplies for baby Dillon. They’d have to wait several more weeks to bring him back to North Carolina.

Tune in Friday when we discover how these two invented adoption software that helps all parents.

Photo: John, Arina and Dillon

Update: Arina and John Kirk asked that we remove the full price of their Russian adoption.

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