Marci Rienstra, of Los Angeles, was adopted from South Korea when she was an infant. "I was lucky to grow up in such a wonderful family, and I wanted to give another child from my homeland the same experience," she says. Rienstra, her husband, Ryan, and their 6-year-old biological daughter, Lindsay, spent ten days in South Korea together when they went to pick up 11-month-old Lily. It was a chance for them to learn more about Lily's background as well as their own family heritage.
Lily immediately transferred the close relationship she'd had with her foster mom to Marci, but bonding with her new dad was another story. ?At first, I couldn't even be in the same room without our daughter crying," Ryan says. "It was difficult, but our home-study social worker explained to us that it was quite normal for an Asian infant to be wary of a Caucasian man."
Ryan took things slowly, sitting off to the side while Marci played with Lily or tucked her into bed. After a few weeks he started feeding his daughter dinner and giving her an occasional bath. "It helped to have Marci hold Lily and watch me play with Lindsay, whom she trusted right away. After about a month, Lily was giving me hugs and kisses just like her big sister did, and now she's totally Daddy's girl."
South Korea Fast Facts
U.S. adoptions in 2010: 865 children
The children: Usually 12 to 18 months old when they come home. More boys are available than girls. Older children are rare.
Estimated cost: $24,000 to $33,000
Key requirements: Couples must have no more than a ten-year age difference between them. Stringent health requirements include being no more than 30 percent overweight.
Travel: Not required, other than to pick up the child. The trip costs approximately $1,500 per person.
Wait time: 18 to 26 months; shorter if one parent is of Korean heritage
Advantages: The foster-care system provides a loving home for the child while placement is pending, as well as excellent medical care. Many health services are available for birth mothers too.