Why are we adopting?
Every family’s journey to adoption is different. This is ours:
Adoption is a calling that was placed on our hearts years before we even dated. We each had encounters with families who had adopted children. Those families – whether they knew it or not – placed a seed in our hearts.
Hubs: When I went overseas in 1998, I spent time with a family who had just adopted a little Asian girl. I knew then that I wanted to adopt. It was placed on my heart to be a father to someone who had no father. I am so ready for Little Sister to come!
Sandra: In 1999, I lived in a city which had a lot of orphans being internationally adopted. I remember seeing foreign families carrying beautiful baby girls around in public parks. That was the first time I thought about having a child through adoption.
Even before we married, we talked about growing our family through adoption.
Fast forward. When we began talking babies, Hubs was open to adopting first, but I wanted to experience pregnancy and childbirth. After all, I wasn’t getting any younger.
In 2006, when we were ready to start our family, we did. For us, it was rather simple. We wanted to get pregnant and three months later we were. We had a great natural birth experience. In fact, I look forward to giving birth again.
When Schäfer was two weeks old, Hubs came to me and asked if we could start adopting a child. At the time, I was a breastfeeding failure (gasp!), sleep deprived, in desperate need of a shower kind of Mommy. Errr… can we get our life settled a bit?
On July 1, 2007, I walked into the office and told Hubs I was ready to talk about baby #2. After all, Schäfer was 6 months old and thriving.
On Hubs birthday, July 4th we sent an our first e-mail to an adoption agency.
What agency are you using? What made you select that agency?
Through another family, we were introduced to a wonderful agency called CCI that has been doing adoptions in China for 17 years. You can’t find them on the internet. They work by referral only. Their mantra is: A Child Is Never A Commodity. Thus, they charge as minimal as possible and keep their staff as small as possible. They, themselves, live off financial support from their home community.
For most agencies, to file the initial introduction form, a $250 fee is required. For CCI, it was $25.
At present, we are their last clients.
When China joined the Hague Agreement, they now require all agencies to be Hague Certified. For our small, low-cost agency, they did not feel called to up their costs and staff a lawyer whose sole purpose would be to work on getting their Hague Certification – which takes 4 years and ironically expires after four years thus making the agencies start the paper work all over again about they time they get certified.
Working with CCI has been one of many confirmations that this is the season for adoption. It has been a blessing to adopt with an agency whose heart is so close to our own.
If you live in China and are interested in contacting an adoption agency who knows how to process expats, please let us know. We now know of a couple of other agencies who can assist you and we would be happy to share these details via e-mail.
Is it really expensive to adopt?
Well, no children are free. Even in pregnancy there are expenses: monthly doctor’s visits, ultrasounds, new clothes, hospital delivery charges, etc. Fortunately, insurance helps with most of these.
In adoption, there are also expenses: new birth certificates, new marriage license, criminal clearances, home study, etc.
There are many non-profit orgs who offer adoption grants to needy applicants. Research this. We did and were blessed.
Additionally, there is a tax break (form 8839) which should help off set costs.
If you are seriously considering adoption, we would be happy to privately share additional information with you. Hubs keeps our finances in tight order and you can be sure that we have an itemized category for adoption. (We also have an itemized category for diapers. It would shock you. I’m highly considering cloth.)
Money should never be the reason not to adopt. If you are called to adopt – if it is in your heart and constantly on your mind – then do it. Step out in faith…watch and be amazed.
Now that you’ve found an agency, what is the paper chase like?
Way different than what we expected! We thought we’d be in good shape because we had all our documents in order: original birth certificates, marriage license, etc. But no…those are old! The trick in adoption paperwork is the date on which the paper was issued.
Here’s a short list of the papers we had to collect:
Hubs birth certificate*
my birth certificate*
Criminal clearance (one for each of us)*
Hubs letter of employment*
certificate of assets/liabilities*
my letter of unemployment*
local Chinese city criminal clearance (notarized by local notary)
US child abuse clearance
China medical forms*
Letter of Application Expedition*
*And here’s the really fun part. All of those papers must be “authenticated” which means that each one has to go to the state they are from for certification. After it’s stamped by the state, it has to go to the US Department of State. Once the US seal is on it, it goes to the Chinese Embassy. We used and highly recommend The Assistant Stork to get everything around D.C.
I was clueless when we began, but quickly caught on. We found the paper chase to be pretty fast. We started mid July and finished around October.
How did you paper chase all the way from China?
Bless The Nanamaw’s heart. We e-mailed my Mom the mailing address for whatever document we were chasing. Attached in that e-mail was our cover letter. She printed them, addressed the envelope and enclosed a check for X dollars. We reimbursed her for each check. (We don’t have a checkbook. Which makes so much sense to Hubs, but it just seems so odd to me.)
Do you have a preference on whether you adopt a son or daughter?
Originally, we thought we would be adopting a daughter. I had visions of pink dancing in my head. I think that’s because most of the families we met with adopted children had daughters. Recently though, my heart was opened to either.
When we were pregnant, we didn’t know if Schäfer was going to be a boy or girl. So it only seems fit now that I am pregnant in my heart to not know if we are going to have a boy or girl.
Based off availability, the chances of being matched with a girl are still very high.
Will your child have special needs?
Children with special needs are only matched with families who specifically request a special needs child. Since we live in a small city and consequently have little access to a variety of specialized doctors, surgeons, physical therapist, speech therapist, etc. we didn’t feel called to adopt a special needs child.
We have requested a healthy child, but just like pregnancy – anything can happen, so whatever child is given to us is whatever child we will be blessed to take care of.
As with all children, we realize that many developmental delays are not recognized until schooling begins.
What are you waiting for?
Right now, we are queued with a log-in-date of 12.29.07.
1.) We are waiting for all the families who are queued before us to get their child so that we can be plucked off a shelf, carried over to a cubical and matched with a beautiful child.
2.) Once we’ve been matched, a referral letter will go to our agency. That’s when we’ll see our child’s face for the first time!
3.) We must agree to adopt the child. YES! We want this child!
4.) Then, our agency sends the agreement to CCAA. We wait for them to process more paperwork finally mail us a Travel Permission form.
5.) Once we have that form, we get to her/him ASAP.
6.) Then, we go to Guangzhou to the US consulate to get a US visa in their Chinese passport.
7.) Finally, we travel to America. Internationally adopted children must be on US soil to become a citizen. Right now, we plan on going to Hawaii because it’s half the amount of frequent flier miles. And, well..it’s Hawaii. Don’t feel bad for us!
Basically: waiting, waiting, waiting, Referral Letter, waiting, Travel Permission, GET OUR BABY, appointment with the US Consulate…Hawaii…home.
How much longer will you wait?
That’s the big unknown. There are rumors. I try not to read them.
Why is the wait so long?
CCAA has said:
Due to the fact that CCAA has a very structured program, with a rigorous and complete legal process, it has gained a great reputation with regards to it’s international adoption program. Many foreigners choose to adopt in China for this reason. As a result adoption applications have increased significantly in recent years. As China’s economy improves, as the number of children in the care of social welfare institutions decreases, and as domestic adoption increases, the demand for adoption exceeds the children available for international adoption. Thus, international adoption time lines continue to grow longer and longer. It is important for international adoption parents to take this into consideration.
Why don’t you have another baby while you wait?
Some of you have sweetly suggested that we could get pregnant while we wait for our child. Mathematically, it’s a good idea.
However, we fall under China’s May 2007 adoption rules: if we get pregnant we would have to re-file our dossier when the 2nd baby is 1-year-old. That would have us starting the paper chase all over in about 2010 and hence receiving our adopted child probably around 2013/2014. We press on in our season of waiting for baby #2.
What will you name your baby?
Yet another big unknown! As mentioned here and here names do not come easy for us. Since we’ll have a couple of weeks between referral and travel permission, we plan on finalizing a name then.