Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Now I know how to get me one of those!

Well, at least I know more than I did yesterday. If you’ve been reading along, you know that we have yet to officially decide whether to adopt domestic or international. We took our first step in making that decision last night as we attended an international adoption orientation (IAO). Oddly enough, there is no such thing as a DAO (Domestic Adoption Orientation). The next step in both versions of the process will be to complete the preliminary application, followed by a formal application, which will include a fee. That’s the point at which we’ll need to have made up our minds, because that’s when our wallet starts to empty out. More on the process some other time, I want to share my initial thoughts the day after the IAO.

First off, I am soooooo glad we attended this meeting. I learned a lot, confirmed some hopes, cleared up some mis-conceptions, and had a milkshake. Oh wait that last part was when we stopped at Sonic on the way home! Yup there’s a Sonic in Lancaster County, not far from where I work - and according to my sources, more of them on their way to PA.

Anywho, the meeting was uber informative. There were 3 other couples there, and 1 woman by herself because her husband could not make it. We had a brief intro around the room, but other than that there wasn’t much inter-action between the adoptive couples outside of a few glances and nods as the presenter went through her info. For some reason, I expected it to be a little more touchy feely - with lots more prayer and sharing.

It’s become painfully obvious to me that we now live in a PowerPoint society. No one ever gives a presentation, seminar, or orientation without a slide show. The first things organizers always talk about are the slides. How many, when can you submit them, yabba dabba doo. So, as you can guess, the entire session focused around the presenter speaking along with a PowerPoint presentation. I suppose this is not a bad thing, just something I noticed yet again.

My intitial take when comparing this to domestic now, is that the total process is actually more predictable, potentially more affordable, and just as rewarding. Not sure if we are leaning toward international, but before last night, we were probably leaning away.

The adoption counselors WILL be getting personal with us. Again, I won’t rehash the whole process at this point, but in short – we’ll be interviewed together, then interviewed alone, then together again. They will ask questions about our history, growing up, how we met, what we do for a living, etc. A comprehensive interview. Then we’ll have to submit to physicals, blood tests, a home study, etc. We’ll be providing references, a copy of our will (which doesn’t exist yet – eek), and a pastoral reference.

There’s a great deal of variety in international adoptions. The presentation highlighted the 2 most popular countries, as well as some of the greater need and newer programs.
By far, most international adoptions through Bethany and any other organization are through China and Guatemala.

China: You wait 12+ months, get a referral, and travel a few weeks later. There are so many kids being adopted from China that you actually travel with a group and go through the process together. The need there is still quite high, but seems to be subsiding gradually over time as China modernizes. In all, there are 20,000 foreigners on the waiting list to adopt a Chinese orphan.

Guatemala: You wait 2-3 months, get a referral, then wait another 9 months before traveling. Interestingly, you can even visit your child during this period if you like, but have to come back later for the pick up. Birth mothers must submit to a DNA test and be interviewed several times throughout the process – all in an effort to fight corruption.

Russia: Similar to China as far as waiting, but the percentage of infants is lower. Not much else unique except that it’s customary for the adoptive parents to take all the officials involved out to dinner after the hearing. Yup, out to dinner – including the judge, social workers, lawyers, etc. Apparently, the reputation Russians have for celebrating holds true. Bring on the Vodka!

Haiti: This is actually the quickest and cheapest option, presumably because the need is so tremendous. Haiti might very well be the poorest nation in the Western Hemisphere, and many of the children are HIV positive at birth. Thankfully, with modern drugs and their mother’s antibodies few remain so after the age of 2. The head of the orphanage, Dixie controls the process of matching kids with parents. Actually, if you believe her, the Holy Spirit is in charge, as she prays over each case and matches them at that time. Who am I to argue!

Kazakhstan: This is the only country that allows you to pick your own kid. Yup, you literally show up at the orphanage, take a look and make your choice. There’s a major need here, but the process is long and involves up to 2 months of travel.

Uzbekistan: A new program, also with major needs. The Uzbeks have an unusual system of government – the mayor of whatever town your in actually approves the adoption.

Not sure M will go for it, but I’m intrigued by the Uzbek possibilities. I mean, really, it’s Uzbekistan- it’s fun to say! It sounds like one of those place names you’d make up as part of your make believe world with your other 8-year-old friends. I know people who have been to China, Haiti, Russia, and Central America. There’s no way anyone I know has been anywhere near Uzbekistan. Of course, they did let us use one of their air bases for the first stage of the war on terror in Afghanistan.

In reality, I still don’t know which direction we’ll be led, but I can tell you we’re much more excited about adopting internationally than we had been up to this point. I had previously been leaning away from Guatemala, but now I’m much more open to that particular opportunity. Maybe my next post will focus more on that whole process discussion. It's sorta complicated, but sorta interesting at the same time. Lets just say we are thinkful for the adoption reforms that have taken place in this country in the last 6 years, but there's still a long way to go.


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