Volume 3, Number 34 - November 20, 2003
brought to you online by Pinedale Online
Part 1 of 2
by Deanne Swain and Rhonda Swain
Adoption ... one word ... three syllables ... a thousand emotions. Adoption fills the dreams of many Americans, whether it's an older waiting child or a couple that has dreamed for years of the baby they cannot conceive or carry.
National Adoption Day will be celebrated Nov. 22 as thousands of children receive a permanent family. In 2002, the adoptions of more than 1,200 children were finalized during this event, according to the Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption.
Traditional adoptions are the adoptions of born children, whether domestic or international, however embryo adoptions are a growing trend.
At one time, adoptions were kept secret, often even from the child. Slowly that trend has seen a shift away from closed adoptions to semi-open or open adoptions, which seem to provide a more emotionally healthy experience for many.
In a semi-open adoption, the birth parents and adoptive parents know non-identifying information about each other and may correspond with each other, through the agency or lawyer, as the child grows. In open adoption, the birth parents and adoptive parents know everything about each other; some even go so far as to keep birth parents involved in the raising of the child.
Waiting children are older children who are waiting for adoption; they may have been removed from their parents/home for a variety of reasons and they may or may not have special needs. Often there is no cost to adopt these children, as the state or government pays costs associated with adoption.
Dave Thomas, founder of Wendy's fast food chain, was adopted as an older child and created the Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption, which provides excellent information on adoption, focusing on waiting children rather than infants. Contact the Wyoming Department of Family Services for more information on becoming a foster parent and eventually an adoptive parent.
China and Russia are both hotspots for international adoption. Many Americans adopt girls from China as the Chinese government allows only one child per family and Chinese culture dictates the family name be carried on by a son. There are also thousands of children in Russia waiting to be adopted.
All orphaned Russian children must be listed in the Federal Data Bank for six months to allow the birth family or other Russian citizens the opportunity to adopt first. Children in Russia are available from six months to 14 years old. Russia requires that adoptive parents make two trips to Russia before taking their child home. Most international adoptions move quickly, with an average wait of six months to two years.
After having two daughters of their own, Dave and Deanne Hill of Pinedale chose to use Chinese Children Adoption International to adopt. Dave said the agency is awesome.
He said the neat thing about dealing with Chinese Children Adoption International is they have two representatives who live in the United States. Before, they were both Chinese Nationals, but the rules changed and now one is a U.S. citizen and the other lives in the states on a green card. This arrangement allows travel back and forth to visit orphanages while living here.
Because the amount of care a child gets is based solely on finances, Chinese Children Adoption International does a lot of benevolent work to raise funds in the U.S. to fund their orphanage. Helping out those children left behind was one of the main reasons the Hills chose Chinese adoption, Dave said of the money made by CCAI that goes to orphanages to directly benefit orphaned children.
The Chinese infant survival rate at one point was 50 percent, but went up to 92 percent in a short time because of adoption-process donations. Dave said adoptions have made a huge impact.
"That's why we adopted from China - because we could also have an impact on those children left behind," he said.
China only opened its adoption policy in the early 90s, and the last trip the Hills made to China, Dave said that nearly 100,000 children had been adopted internationally. But he also said there are probably a million orphans remaining.
Politics play a large part in the huge number of children living in orphanages. With fewer than 200 last names for the billion or so Chinese people, a family will lose face as far as its heritage goes if there is nobody to carry on the family name, so many Chinese couples give up their daughters for adoption.
The Hills were able to go into the orphanage where Janell, oldest of the Hills' two adopted daughters, lived and he said it was heartbreaking to leave two little girls of about 10 or 12, knowing they would probably never be adopted. The consolation was that their care would increase because of Janell's adoption.
Dave said that when they adopted seven-month-old Janell, the process was "very, very quick ... From the time we started with the adoption agency in the United States until the time we picked up Janell only took eight months," he said. "The second time was not the same blessed thing. They had changed the rules and laws and the second adoption took about 22 months."
Natalie, who will be two years old right before Christmas, joined the Hill family last year when she was 11 months old.
"We brought her home and her first day in Pinedale was her birthday - Dec. 21," Dave said. She joined Rachael, 17, and Tiffany, 15, and Janell, 8.
In comparison, Dave said couples are now able to adopt children in as little as 13 months.
"The second adoption we went through was the slowest because they really bottlenecked it," Dave said.
Unlike Russian adoptions where prospective parent must make two trips to Russian, Dave said they "just went to pick up the baby ... We spent 10 days the first time and 13 the second time."
It isn't necessary to travel to China until it's time to get the child, and orphanage officials turn your child over to you on your second day.
Dave said that Chinese adoptions cost $15,000, but that covers the trip (airplane, hotels, etc.) as well as adoption fees.
He said the hotels he and Deanne stayed in were nicer than any they stay in here. Adoption agencies make a couple's stay as comfortable as possible to relieve a stressful situation, he said.
He noted that the cost is not much different from having a child with no insurance coverage.
Regardless of what type of adoption a couple chooses, and its ensuring costs, as Dave Hill said, "The rewards are paid back many times over."
If you have ever considered adopting,
Wyoming Department of Family Services
Nightlight Christian Adoptions
Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption
National Adoption Day
National Adoption Center
North American Council for Adoptable Children
Chinese Children Adoption International
Wyoming Children's Society
Catholic Social Services of Wyoming
LDS Social Services
See The Archives for past articles.
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