FB Questions Answered!

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 ūüôā

“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:

  1. Apply for adoption grants
  2. Fundraise for your adoption
  3. Live on less
  4. Sell stuff
  5. Get a loan

I believe that where there is a will there is a way ūüôā

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
  • References
  • 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.

AF

 

Too Expensive, too Hard…or Just Don’t Want To?

Deep breath.

Exhale.

I have to write this blog right now because something I just read on facebook is making my blood boil but I try to make a habit of not saying controversial things on social media because it just seems useless and my sister didn’t answer her phone so I couldn’t vent on her about it so here I am!!

Exhale.

Ok.

So the ironic thing is that the facebook thing started out really positive.¬† It was an article about pro-life, which I reposted by the way, and in a nutshell basically said if you’re not the kind of person who is willing to celebrate the lives of mothers and children in needy, chaotic, messy places then maybe you’re not as pro-life as you think you are.

Read it here

The part that made my blood boil was reading through the comments on the post.¬† Inevitably the topic turned to adoption since the article briefly mentioned it and the comments were concluding that certainly adoption would be a lovely choice if only it weren’t so hard and so¬†expensive!¬† Apparently, the government makes it “nearly impossible” for people to adopt.¬† One woman said that she would love to adopt “a few children” if¬†only it weren’t so expensive and difficult.

So…

I have something to say.

  1. ADOPTION IS NOT TOO EXPENSIVE!

International and domestic adoptions are expensive, this is true.  In common language this means that if you want to adopt a healthy infant directly at birth from his or her birth mother OR you want to adopt a child from another country you will have costs that range from $10 000 to $50 000.

My husband and I adopted our two daughters during the last year and half.

We are a young couple – aged 25 and 26, who also got married very young with very few pennies to our name.

I stay at home every day as a stay-at-home mom, school volunteer, housekeeper, etc.¬† Nobody pays me to do any of the things I do.¬† I don’t get paid to wash clothes, dishes or bed sheets.¬† I don’t get paid to buy groceries…in fact, it’s the opposite!¬† I don’t get paid to feed my family, write this blog, pick up toys or organize dusty closets.¬† In short, I am useless financially!

My husband is awesome, but he’s just a normal guy.¬† He holds down a 5 days a week landscaping job with no benefits.¬† In the winter time he runs his own snow removal business in our little town.¬† He works hard to pay¬†for the food on our table, clothes on our backs and monthly bills.

We¬†don’t¬†have a huge house, a fancy car or money built up in our savings accounts for our retirement.

We are average Canadians…

and we adopted.

The truth is,¬†adoption is only¬†very expensive if¬†you have decided you will only adopt a healthy infant or if you’ve decided you would like to adopt internationally.

Adoption here, through the public welfare system in Canada, is not expensive at all.

In fact, there are financial benefits we are receiving for our two adopted daughters that will make raising them less expensive than the baby I’m carrying who is to arrive¬†next month!

Don’t kid yourself.

If you’re using the excuse that you can’t adopt because you think it is too expensive you are just looking for an excuse.¬† There are over 30 000 children here in Canada whom you could adopt for next to¬†nothing and receive¬†financial assistance for any special needs they may have.

You will not pay a dime for your home study, paperwork, or even lawyers in an adoption through public social services.  If you need to do some travelling while meeting and transitioning your child, you will be at least partially reimbursed for that cost.  If you adopt a sibling group, a child with special needs or an older child there are numerous government financial benefits you can apply for to help cover the costs you may have for specialized therapy, counselling, equipment, etc.

The sad thing is that these benefits are in place primarily to motivate people to consider adopting these children.¬† Tell me I’m not the only one who feels that¬†is very wrong in the prosperous country we live in!

The real question you need to be asking yourself is why is it so important to me that I adopt a healthy infant or a child from another country?  What is it about children from other countries that is so much more valuable than the children in my own city?  What is it about a healthy infant that is so much more appealing to me than a child with physical or emotional damage through no fault of their own?

Don’t get me wrong.

I am a huge advocate of all three types of adoption!

One is not better than either of the others.

However, if financially you are not in the place to be able to spend $10 000 to $50 000 on an adoption, but say that you would love to adopt…why have you not considered public adoption?

What exactly is the real reason behind your lack of action?

If you read the article about pro-life, continue your train of thought from there.

Are you really pro-life if you are not willing to adopt the child struggling with brain damage due to his mother’s addictions during her pregnancy?¬† Or should she have aborted after all?

Do you really want to adopt a needy child into your home, or only one that fits certain criteria for a comfortable, safe and happy life?

Digging deeper, do you really believe that all humans are¬†unimaginably valuable in God’s eyes; His created works of art; made in His image?¬† If so…how will you choose to live out that reality when it comes to this social crisis in our country and our world?

ADOPTION IS NOT TOO EXPENSIVE!

Maybe you just don’t want to do it.

Adoption through the public system in Canada and the US is basically free.

There may be costs down the line, but they are costs you may have to consider with biological children as well.¬† You may need a bigger house, bigger vehicle and bigger grocery budget.¬† You may have to give up buying take out and learn to cook.¬† You may have to drive a mini van instead of the SUV you prefer.¬† You may not be able to decorate your home as you’d like or keep the yard perfectly manicured.¬† You or your spouse may have to work less or not at all.

As for the ten, twenty or even fifty thousand dollars you would spend on a private or international adoption…I would say this.

How much did you pay for your last vehicle?

How much do you spend on coffee or lattes in a day, a week, a month…a year?

When is the last time you got a secure loan from the bank…and what was it for?

How much money did you spend on your last phone upgrade?

We are filthily rich in this land of freedom, abundance and prosperity.

Is adoption too expensive?

Maybe that depends how much you think those lives are really worth and what you’re willing to sacrifice.

$10 000?

$20 000?

$50 000?

How high would the price tag be on your child?

So, you say…it may not be too expensive but they sure make it hard!¬† All those rules and paperwork and scrutiny…

2. ADOPTION IS NOT THAT HARD IF YOU REALLY WANT TO DO IT!

You probably did just as much paperwork to buy your home, do your taxes or write your will as you will do to complete your adoption.¬† If this is something you really want to do, it really won’t be that hard to sign a few papers and check off a few checklists.

Is there lots of scrutiny into your personal life?  Yes.

Is there lots of questions…some that are uncomfortable?¬† Yes.

But it’s really not that hard.

I am grateful to have worked with a system that has rules in place to be sure that children are being adopted legally, safely and sensitively into homes that are prepared to meet their needs.  Are there silly rules and procedures that feel like an obstacle course?  Yes, sometimes.  But know that while some things may be obvious to you, they may not be obvious to everyone.  Or maybe you just have something to learn.

The number one goal is not to make life easier for you.  Get over yourself.  The number one goal is to protect the children who are vulnerable in this system, and they are very vulnerable.  I am grateful for that protection.  I am proud to tell my daughters that it took a while to find just the right family for them because their adoption worker knew that not just anyone will do.

I am grateful to have received training, advice and guidance before we jumped into raising children who have had attachment disruptions, brain trauma, emotional insecurity and behavioural challenges.¬† It is different than raising a child from birth and you’re going to be much better prepared if you are willing to learn some things from someone who has had experience.

I am grateful to have formed an intimate enough relationship with our social worker through all those meetings and phone calls to be able to be honest about the hard stuff, ask questions without feeling bashful and know that somebody has my back through it all.

Without all the paperwork, meetings, training classes and scrutiny…I would not have been ready to parent my children.

If that feels too hard…then you probably haven’t put it all in perspective…or you don’t want to do it as much as you’re telling yourself you do.

No, I’m not going to let you off the hook.

There are children waiting for families all over the world, and if we really tried, we could find homes for all of them.¬† It’s time to stop making excuses and start being honest.

It’s not too expensive,

It’s not too hard,

If you want to.

That kind of want needs to come pouring out of hearts that have experienced adoption into the family of our Abba Father.

That kind of want flows from hearts that know what redemption, freedom and sacrifice mean.

Hearts that understand grace at the hands of our Jesus.

Hearts that have experienced transformation by the power of the Holy Spirit.

Hearts that in return want to pour out love on others.

I pray for this kind of want.