Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Adoption Decision part 2

Thanks everyone for the congrats on my last post about our decision to apply for international adoption. And despite all the positive things said, I know that there are a wide range of opinions about adoption in general, inter-racial adoption especially and any and every detail related to this process. Not that I'm asking for criticism, because I actually don't handle that very well, but I just want to state up front that we are educating ourselves as well as we can, reading anything we can get our hands on regarding issues that affect adopted children, interracial families, worse case scenarios and such. We may be taking a leap, but it's not a BLIND leap. But thank you for keeping your comments on this blog uplifting and encouraging. :)

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Many people have asked how/why we chose Thailand and which agency we're using. Those 2 decisions were kind of made at the same time. Trent's sister is an adoption agent (convenient!) and told us about some very reputable agencies that specialize in intercountry (another word for international) adoption. Around the same time, I found a very helpful website, http://www.showhope.org/. This is the website for Shaohannah's Hope, the ministry dedicated to caring for orphans through aid and adoption that was started by Steven Curtis Chapman and his wife, Mary Beth. The reason I liked this site is because a)they offer grants--yeah! And b) they gave tons of helpful links and even an entire "How to Adopt" packet. The Chapmans and the foundation do not endorse one specific country or one specific agency, but link to several with good reputations, and even more links to other grant possibilities. We received online info packets from about 5 agencies. 2 of the most well-known and reputable were here in Oregon: Bethany Christian Services and Holt International.
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Both Bethany and Holt are licensed to place children from about a dozen countries. Here's something that I didn't realize: every country around the world that allows US parents to adopt can create their own criteria. And the criteria varies quite a bit and is very specific. The Jen&Trent criteria was also specific! As I mentioned in the last post, Haiti was our first choice, but that's not an option right now. So, our process was largely done through process of elimination.
Fortunately, our age and length of marriage fell into most countries' criteria. (Except Haiti! We'd be too young.) We are requesting a healthy child under the age of 2, we are willing to wait about 2 years, we only want to travel to the birth country one time, and when we travel we can stay no longer than 2 weeks maximum. Most South American countries require the parents to stay 6-8 weeks when picking up their baby. Most Eastern European countries (& Russia) require 2 trips, each 2 or more weeks. Korea & Taiwan are only taking applications for parents interested in adopting a child with special medical needs. China's wait time right now is 50 months and expected to lengthen in the next year. Uganda, Mongolia and India are only adopting children ages 3 and over. These are somewhat generalized, but it shows you how we were able to narrow it down.
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According to those logistics, our top 2 choices were Ethiopia and Thailand. We were both genuinely open to either country. I think what pushed us over the edge was some blogs I found by parents who had recently adopted from Thailand through Holt. (I hope to get their permission to link on my blog soon.) I got in touch with a couple of them, and they SANG the praises of Holt and the entire process. I learned that Holt has a para-organization in Thailand called Holt Sahathai Foundation, working on orphan aid and adoption since 1975. " HSF serves a large number of vulnerable children through a variety of programs including adoption, pregnancy counseling, foster care, educational sponsorships and outreach services for children in hospitals and orphanages. Many of these programs help birth families to stay together through counseling and assistance." We also learned that Thai children in the HSF program are placed in foster homes until the day of adoption, rather than orphanages. They are followed closely and individually by social workers from HSF, who also assist the adoptive families every step of the way while in country. More than one of these families I found on the blogs are on their second adoption in Thailand through Holt. They primarily work with babies whose unwed birth mothers chose adoption, rather than abandoned babies. This means that there is usually a larger amount of medical information on each child, including prenatal information. One Holt family was from the NW and talked of the ease in finding Thai culture connections for their child. All of these factors just kind of tipped the scales, I guess. (BTW, we also heard wonderful things from families who had adopted from Ethiopia. It's still on our application as our second choice.)
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Another thing I like about Holt is that they offer summer camps for children who were adopted internationally. That's a great post-placement program. THEN, we found out that our Becky's grandfather was chairman of the board of Holt for years. He and his late wife, 2 amazing and godly people, volunteered frequently to escort Korean orphans to their new home in the US. Grandpa Jagger would not have devoted so much time and energy into a cause that was not extremely worthy. Having this information just seemed like a confirmation seal on the deal with Holt.
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So, now you are caught up on our decision process. You may have (probably would have?) done something different, but we are excited about our future with Baby Thai. FYI, girls are more commonly requested, so the fact that we have stated we are open to either gender means we'll probably be getting a boy. Although he thinks it will happen a lot sooner than it really will, looks like Carson will eventually get the little brother he's been asking for. He's already got the bunk-bed situation planned. :)

8 comments:

The Brandt Clan said...

Awesome. I am so happy for you guys and this path God is leading you down! Looking forward to hearing more!

eets said...

we will continue praying for you guys! I can't wait to welcome him/her to our extended fam! I'm already picturing them running around with us at family camp-outs. They will be showered with love! I'm sure you'll have some complicated days ahead, but for now, yay!

Kristen {RAGE against the MINIVAN} said...

So stoked for you! And let me just say, do your research, but then step back a bit. The internet contains all sorts of angry adult adoptees. But in the real world, there are many, many adoptees who live happy, fulfilled lives and don't spend their days writing blogs called "kidnapped childhood" or whatever. It can be overwhelming when you find the rabbit hole of angry adoptee blogs. But remember that they don't speak for everyone. I have lots of friends who were adopted, some transracially, and they are all very positive about it.

Lisa P said...

Love that you are sharing your process. It's very fun to see how/where God is leading you guys!

Lisa P said...

Love that you are sharing your process. It's very fun to see how/where God is leading you guys!

Lisa P said...

Love that you are sharing your process. It's very fun to see how/where God is leading you guys!

Nina said...

I love how God places each little piece of a puzzle together. We wait on Him and the wisdom He gives.

Jay and Chandra and Penny Regan said...

Welcome to the Thai adoption family. It's a very supportive community. Our family used WACAP and adopted a teenage girl. But, you are welcome to visit our blog, anytime. I'll look forward to hearing more about your journey to your child.