- Do you know the kids?
No. I am doing private adoption and the process is a blind process for the most part. You have to meet the state and agency requirements, complete a great deal of paperwork, receive final agency approval and then you are given a referral. A referral is basically the identification and presentation of the children on paper. I will receive pictures, their names, their ages, their medical, family, and social history. By the time that I receive the referral the kids are only weeks from coming home.
- Do you want boys or girls?
As I mentioned above the process is blind until just before the adoption is finalized. While some agencies allow you to specify I chose an agency that wants both boys and girls to have an equal chance of being adopted and does not support you choosing by sex. I would love to have a boy and a girl but I'm trying to look at it like a natural birth; you get the child(ren) that is meant for you.
- How old will the children be?
My target ages for the two children are over 2 and under 6.
- Where are the kids coming from?
My children are coming to me by way of Ethiopia. I am working with an agency called Wide Horizons for Children that have an orphanage called Horizon House in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. The children will live at Horizon House before coming to the states. (see pictures)
- Do you have to travel to pick them up?
Unlike other inter-country programs you do not have to travel and their is no residency requirement. I will be making two trips to Ethiopia. The first trip will be immediately after referral so that I can go and see them. I will return 8-12 weeks later to bring them home.
I can't wait to go! Anybody else want to come?
- Will the kids be U.S. citizens?
Yes. The kids will come into the country as U.S. citizens. That is why I'm making two trips. Illinois is the only state that has a requirement that if you will not see the children before the adoption is final, you have to first become licensed as a foster care provider. I could not psychologically or emotionally wrap my mind around the thought of working this hard to get them here and then bringing them into my home as foster placements.
So, I've decided to go to country twice. By going to Ethiopia before the adoption is final, my children will get IR3-Visas without that extra step, the children inter the country on IR4-Visas. With an IR4 Visa must states (Illinois) require you to readopt the children in your home state.
An IR-3 in most cases makes re-adoption unnecessary, although it varies by state. With an IR-3 Visa, children are immediately U.S. citizens, automatically get a Certificate of Citizenship and they also can get a regular SS number, instead of an alien number.
- Why Ethiopia?
The most direct answer is that somehow I was called to that place. I will write more on this in a separate post.
I began the process looking at domestic adoption. Many evening I would go through pictures of waiting children from across the entire United States, currently in the DCFS system. I learned several things: 1) There a very few children in my target age group 2-5 that are not are not part of a large sibling group or do not have medical issues. 2) Of those few, DCFS has very specific guidelines on the type of home that the children should be in and many specify two parents, a need to live close to other siblings or relatives, and a willingness to keep those contacts alive. 3) The children are placed as foster care children (I would have to become a foster care provider) and many of them have not had their parental right terminated. So, you could have them only to watch them later returned to their parents. 4) The process could take up to 24 months to become final and there is no guarantee that you actually end up with the children.
- How long does the process take?
The process varies based upon the age of children that you want and the agency that you choose. I look at the process in four distinct parts (there is some overlap). I am in my second month of the process. I am hoping that all of my paperwork will be complete by the end of November. I hope to have immigration approval by December 2007, a referral by May or June, and the kids home by August 2008. That would be 11 months total.
To learn specifics about the process see:
Adoption-How Long Is Too Long?
- Are the children healthy?
You have an option to request healthy or a child with special needs. I have requested a healthy child. Any parent knows that even with an identified healthy child their may be some things that come up down the line. It is recommended that you take the medical records that you receive with the referral to an international doctor for review. I have identified an International Pediatric Clinic associated with the University of Chicago. They will review the records and then examine and assess the children once they make it to Chicago.
- Is it expensive?
Yes. That is the short answer to a question that is relative based upon the size of your bank account or heart. It depends on your agency, the children, and the travel. The cost range somewhere between $18,000 - $25,000++. That of course does not include the costs of starting from scratch with two little ones that will come only with the clothes on their back.
I am setting up a couple of online fundraisers to help defray some of the costs. I am also considering setting up a wish list for things that I think we might need in those first few months.
Sunday, October 14, 2007
10 Questions About My Adoption
Since I've started down this path everyone has been so supportive. There are questions that keep coming up so I thought I try to answer the top 10 questions here. If you have other questions, let me know.