A few weeks ago I wrote a short request on facebook asking people to share their questions regarding adoption. Here are the questions and the best answers I could come up with 🙂
“In places like China, for example, I’ve heard that it is customary to offer expensive gifts, etc., not to mention the plane fare. Where might a middle class family who don’t have plane fare, etc. be able to inquire?”
So unfortunately I have no firsthand experience with this one, but I will share the best I’ve been able to acquire from my research!
So from what I’ve been able to understand, in many cases these “gifts” are items being requested by orphanage directors/workers when a child is being adopted. Though this may seem incredibly manipulative, from what I’ve read in many cases it is actually the agency you are working with here in North America that is requesting you to bring these gifts because it is culturally appropriate to offer gifts in situations such as these. I also found that in many cases these gifts are really not expensive ($10-25 each) and are actually donations for the children left behind in the orphanage when you return home with your child. The $30-50 thousand dollars you spend on an international adoption is largely spent on lawyer fees both in your country and the child’s, travel costs, adoption agency fees, and government documents you need to acquire for your child. The orphanage itself from which your child is coming will receive very little, if any, of this money. These “gifts” are their way of trying to improve the conditions of the orphanage. Again, this is not first hand experience and my information may not be reliable but that’s what I found. To avoid being taken advantage of financially in an international adoption the overwhelming advice I read was to work with a reputable agency, to be organized and to choose a country that has signed the Hague Convention.
As far as being able to afford an international adoption, there are many things a middle class family can do:
- Apply for adoption grants
- Fundraise for your adoption
- Live on less
- Sell stuff
- Get a loan
I believe that where there is a will there is a way 🙂
Read my blog post on affording adoption here.
How does a family go about discretely investigating about whether or not the child has physical/neurological difficulties? There have been many reports of adoptive parents finding that the babies have difficulties that they weren’t aware of. While a couple would need to accept these things in their own birth child, there are many who adopt, not wanting to sign up for that.
To be honest, I think this was probably more common longer ago. Here in Canada, I do not think you need to be concerned at all about this as any public or private agency will share as much information as possible with you if you are serious about adopting a specific child. They are not trying to con you into adopting a child. On the contrary, they are working for the best interests of the child, not you! Once you express serious interest in a child, you will be given the opportunity to view their entire file including any medical history, diagnoses, etc. It will be your job to do the research on whatever you find and be sure you are equipped and informed.
However, you must remember that there are many unknowns related to children who have suffered trauma, abuse and/or neglect. Short of a magic genie there is no way for you to predict the full capabilities of a child upon adoption any more than a biological child’s future needs at birth.
I would say:
Ask as many questions as you can.
Consult with professionals regarding the information you do receive.
Do your research, but at the same time be prepared that life has a way of throwing curve balls at you and it doesn’t mean someone deliberately mislead you.
If you’re referring to international adoption I would certainly think there are many more risks of this occurring. I know most adoption agencies encourage you to arrange for a medical examination to take place in the child’s current country and then again immediately upon arrival to Canada. Many children available for adoption internationally have been abandoned at an orphanage with very little information, so there is not necessarily any way you can know what the true extent of their limitations are. It’s important to be prepared for things to be much worse than you expect…but it’s also important to keep in mind that a secure and loving environment, with great access to medical care and services is the ideal place for a child to reach his or her fullest potential!
As far as not wanting to ‘sign up for this’…it’s a phrase that would be worth considering deeply. If you are not prepared to face some unknowns adoption may not be for you. These kids need people who are willing to stick with them no matter what.
“I know a couple who adopted a young girl after fostering for a long time. Later, there was such conflict with their biological children, that they arrived at the difficult decision of letting the girl go again. How does the couple with the heartache in that decision reconcile that issue within themselves. I’m sure they still ache.”
This is a tough one for me. Everybody has a story about an adoption that went wrong in some way or other. I feel for this family deeply and I’m sure that they must have walked through some very dark and desperate times to reach this decision. I have never had this experience, and to be honest it goes against everything I believe.
At the same time, I am not so naive as to think that the intense struggles involved in foster care and adoption could not lead to this. As much as I don’t like it, there are children who have been wounded to the point where they cannot function well in a family environment. Love does not fix everything. There are times when a child needs supports that a home environment will not be able to provide. Many adoptive parents have lived through the agony of having to choose to send their child to residential treatment centres, etc. This is hard stuff.
I would say, however…that I feel like there should always be an option that still includes the preservation of the vows you made to your child upon their adoption into your family. I cannot ever in my mind conceive a time when it would be ok to abdicate my biological child’s place as my son or daughter. Any parent who abandons their biological child or rejects their place in the family is labelled as a monster. I struggle to understand why a child you’ve chosen to adopt would be any different. The day you adopt a child you legally become their parent. They receive a new birth certificate, with your name on it. They take on your last name. You vow before a judge to care for them and love them forever. The minute you sign those documents in the court room, the time to back out of an adoption is past. While it may be necessary to relinquish a child to live outside of your home for a while…or even permanently…I would be lying if I said I thought there was ever an ok time to nullify an adoption. Especially due to sibling rivalry. I’m guessing the thought of “letting go” of the biological children never crossed their minds. Two wrongs will not make a right. They may reject you, they may push you away, they may leave your life in a pile of rubble and desolation…but they desperately need you to follow through on the promise that nobody else did; that they belong to you and nothing can ever change that. Whether they are under your roof, behind bars, in a respite home or enrolled in a treatment centre…they are yours and you are theirs. That’s what family means.
Do you feel differently about your biological child than your adopted ones?
Yes, I do. I ADORE all 3 of my children but I absolutely feel differently about them in some ways. I worry less about my biological son’s future, and my relationship with him is so easy. Our attachment is secure and unexplainable, with no interruptions or unknowns. My daughters and I have walked some hard and dark places together, and I have fought harder for them than I knew was possible. There are days my heart wants to explode with pride as I watch them conquer their world. There are other days I feel a lot of fear and pain as I watch them. I have had to earn their trust, and we still walk on eggshells around some issues. It is a more intentional love, and there are days the foundation appears to be crumbling in places I didn’t know exist. I am constantly on alert with them. We take nothing for granted. But we are a family. Forever. And I would choose this again and again and again. My 3 children came to me in very different ways, but the 3 of them make up my heart and together they are siblings with a bond that is unmistakably family!
How long does the adoption process take?
Unfortunately the adoption process is unpredictable as there are many variables. There are 3 different types of adoption, first of all. International, domestic and foster care. For all three you will need to start with a homestudy assessment. This process usually takes approximately 6 months to complete. After your homestudy is complete it depends largely on how motivated you are to adopt and what type of child you plan to adopt. If you are adopting internationally or through foster care and are interested in adopting children with special needs, older children or a sibling group your adoption will usually go fairly quickly from this point…especially if you are being proactive in searching for your children. If, however, you are waiting for a baby or child with very limited special needs you will wait longer as children rarely make it through being abandoned, abused, neglected or orphaned without some major trauma. If you are adopting domestically and being matched with a birth mother there is no guarantee when or if you will be matched but most families statistically are matched within a year. You can speed up the adoption process by being prompt in completing your paperwork, being open to special needs children and being proactive alongside your adoption worker. However…God has a way of making things happen in His timing and in His ways, and sometime that means waiting. At the end of the day it is all up to Him and trusting His timing will help bring peace in the waiting periods and hope in what seems to be endless holdups. He is bigger than any obstacle that may stand in the way.
What are some things your home requires to pass the home inspection?
Some things you will need to complete a homestudy in Ontario are:
- Criminal Record Checks
- Fire Inspection
- Medical Certificate completed by family physician
- Financial Statement form
- Proof of Home and Auto Insurance
- MTO Driver’s Abstract
- Car Seat Inspections
- Notice of Assessment
- Complete PRIDE training
- Meet with your social worker at least 3-5 times
Many people find the homestudy process to be quite invasive and intimidating, which it certainly can be. Having someone come in and inspect every aspect of your life, home and family is a little disconcerting. However, this is an essential part of being sure you are a safe, consistent and loving home for a child to grow up in. Try to remember that everything you are being asked to do is for the sake of the many children out there waiting for a family. Raising children with trauma backgrounds is not always easy and it’s important to be sure you are prepared for this challenge. The homestudy is designed to help both you and the adoption agency you are working with to determine whether your family is prepared for adoption.