June 7, 2007

Adoption, Early Stages

My husband and I married with plans of adopting internationally. We've been constant in our view that we were privileged in many ways growing up and would like to offer the same opportunities to a child who may not otherwise have them. That and there are just so many children out there who need a loving family. But for now exciting news - we've begun the adoption process! The first step was to research adoption agencies which inevitably leads into the next step which is selecting a country program. We attended several informational meetings, all for non-profit agencies, and exhausted Google. We decided early on that we would like to adopt through a non-profit agency as most of these have invested teams based in the countries they work with providing humanitarian aid to the children left behind. Also the idea of somebody making a profit while millions of children wait in orphanages just didn't seem right.

Of all of the meetings we attended and research we did, Children's Hope International stood out as by far the most knowledgeable and passionate agency. They have dedicated staff in each country, provide huge amounts of aid to the communities, are informed of the issues relevant to each country, and overall seem to have a real heart for the operation. Needless to say this was obviously not the case with at least one other agency we met with - which will go unnamed as they are still trying to do a good thing so don't deserve to be mentioned negatively. The next step, program selection. We have always intended to adopt a child from Latin America. Perhaps Guatemala or Colombia. My undergraduate degree is in Spanish Language & Literature and my husband and I have traveled extensively through Central & South America. These experiences have given us a specific passion for the children of these countries.

Enter...obstacles. Guatemala is not currently Hague compliant, and Columbia's greatest need is for adoptive families for older children. Hague is basically an international convention that mandates certain parameters for international adoption. The US has never participated in The Hague but is implementing it this year which means all of the countries our citizens adopt from also need to be compliant. So, if we rush through our paperwork and somehow attain a referral and travel to Guatemala before the end of 2007 (when the US expects to have fully implemented the Hague) then we could very well find ourselves in a situation where half of the expenses have been paid out to the Guatemala program and all of a sudden we need to start from scratch with a new country. That, and the main reason Guatemala is needing to implement the Hague asap is due to speculation of huge humanitarian violations in the adoption process - child trafficking and other horrific scenarios. I just couldn't live wondering if the child we adopted was somehow forced from his/her biological family just to fill a "market demand" for young children in the US. As first time parents we would love our first child to be younger than two years old, which doesn't really fit the profile need in Columbia, so we moved on with our research.

Ethiopia. Here there is a case of extreme need for adoptive families (estimated 5 million + children waiting), a country rich in culture and history, and younger children in need of homes due to recent politically and environmentally induced strife. Infants of AIDS victims and/or warfare and/or famine. We've only visited Africa once and it was to Morocco, but we loved it and have always planned to return to other countries and explore. After doing a little more research, meeting two adorable Ethiopian twins, and having the same passionate feeling enter our conversations that we have about Latin American children we decided that we were meant to pursue the Ethiopia program. Yesterday I sent in the application via FedEx and received confirmation today that it arrived. Although there aren't any reasons to turn us down I'm still nervous. We don't have a criminal history, both of us are healthy with no history of illness, we're financially stable, have two huge humanitarian hearts, love children, have traveled extensively, and really really really want this. They can't say no, right? Mind you, this application is just the one that officially puts us at the beginning of the process.

The next steps will be to gather all of the necessary documents and participate in the home study. We're hoping we can get going on this as soon as we return from a vacation in Europe, but being the compulsive type that I am I have already sent away for several of the documents such as birth certificate, marriage license, etc... So now we wait. Children's Hope International, Ethiopia program, potential referral in as little as 6 months...I'm so excited. Of course we need to be very patient as 6 months could easily turn in to 18, but it will be worth it.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Congratulations on your the start of a great journey. We went with Children's Hope for the adoption of our daughter (China program) and love working with them. We are thinking about Ethiopia...
positive thoughts...
mark hanson