Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Guess Who Finally Got in to Vanderbilt

YEP!  This girl!  Not Barlow...KEMRY! :)  

We have been on the waiting list for 11 months to see a developmental pediatrician at Vanderbilt and we FINALLY got the call that we have an appointment for next week!  Not that there is anything "wrong" with our sweet girl.  We wouldn't want to change anything about her amazing spirit.  We just want to find out what's going on and how we can help her live a happier, fuller life without all the fear, worry, and anxiety she deals with.  We have been told by specialists that she probably has a low IQ and just to take her home and love her knowing she will probably forever live at home, but we know that is SO wrong.  We see this girl do AMAZING complex things our children with known genius level IQs could not figure out.  She has severe speech problems which complicates testing and diagnosing her, but that certainly doesn't mean there's no potential for her.  I refuse to let anyone tell me that this child doesn't have HUGE potential in her.  That's when my mama bear comes out. :)  SO we are rejoicing today that we are one step closer to helping her in any way we humanly can.  WOOOHOOO!


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Saturday, July 28, 2012

Why We Aren't Just Adopting From "Here"

"Why don't you just adopt from here?  There are so many children here in the US that need families."  

First of all, this isn't meant to be offensive to anyone. We would never EVER judge anyone for their choices and wish adoption wasn't categorized.  Any time you bring a child who needs a family into your home, it's a good thing, no matter where that child is from.


So to the 2nd question above, it's true. There are many children in the US that need families.  However, I don't think people realize how many people ARE adopting the children available for adoption. I know many many more families from our area who adopted domestically or foster than internationally.  I just think their situation isn't as noticeable as international families because #1 it's more often (in this area anyway) an all 1 race family or #2 privacy issues prevent the parents from making it a very publicized event or #3 that since they start out as semi-permanent and slowly grow into permanent, there isn't that one "off the plane and on with life" moment that everyone notices.  So when I hear comments implying no one will adopt these children in the US because international adoption is so much more attractive or "glamorous", it's frustrating because they ARE, people just aren't looking for it.  There are SO many amazing foster parents and adoptive parents from foster care that deserve the credit.


Not to mention, just because they are a child in foster care (or waiting in an orphanage in another country), doesn't mean they can ever be adopted. 

When we started our first adoption, we asked about foster care.   We were told with 4 children already, we would need to take a medically fragile child.  We didn't feel we had what it took at that point to handle a situation like that.  From what I have learned since, this wasn't exactly true information, but none the less, it's what we had to go on at that point in our decision making.  So we went with Guatemala.  We don't regret that one bit because we are CERTAIN we were meant to be Kemry's parents and Kemry was meant to be in our family.

In between Kemry and Kolton's adoptions, we called several different states and asked about adoption and foster care.  Of about 10 states or so we called, we only heard back from 2.  One was our state, but they didn't get back to us for 8 weeks.  Then they told us point blank that foster-adopt situations were NOT available and that we would have to go into it knowing we would only be foster parents unless a certain situation came up that we may be able to adopt a child.  I understood their point, not wanting to get our hopes up, but we didn't feel called to just be foster parents.  We knew God was calling us to adopt.

We asked again when we started Kolton's adoption, this time a private foster care placement agency as well as our homestudy social worker.  Our social worker once again told us that we would need to be open to probably only getting a very medically or emotionally fragile child.  At that point, we were in the throws of Kemry's grieving and delays and KNEW we couldn't handle another situation like that.  We also knew being foster parents with the hopes of adopting would involve weekly/monthly checks from the state as well as birth parent visitation (and we would support this), but it just felt as though it would be way too much for our busy family.  We had 5 kids at that point and Kemry was only 2.

So we didn't like that we could loose a child we had already fallen in love with and know that child may be in a bad situation out of our control.  We didn't like we would be required by the state to put them in a certain school, discipline a certain way (even though our discipline tactics already go along with theirs, I wouldn't like being TOLD), make our children see someone that may be the person who abused them until the state declared them adoptable, etc.  We knew that foster children in America, although they need families just as much as any child, receive a good education, good medical care, and will receive social services for life just being an American citizen, but children in foreign orphanages often are kicked out of the orphanage at 14-18 with nothing.  No social services, no medical care, no continuing education, no family, nothing.  So many of these kids end up on the streets as drug addicts, prostitutes, or sold into slavery  just to survive.  This really bothered us.  Are all those things more important than a family?  Not necessarily, but it was still something we had to think seriously about and God placed it deep in our hearts.

And the bottom line, the one thing that ultimately swayed us for good toward international was that's just where our hearts were.  God very specifically has led us to Guatemala and Ethiopia.  We know this without a doubt.  There are people who never feel led to adopt internationally and that's GREAT!  God places domestic/foster care on their hearts because they are the right people for those situations....and that's GREAT!  We support them 100%. This is just why our attempts at foster/adopt never panned out...He has a way of closing doors when it's the wrong way to go and we were meant to bring home the children we have brought home and will bring home in the future. :)

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Breakdown of Adoption Costs & How It Isn't "Child Buying"

I am hearing buzzing about adoption funds more than I ever have before and I felt it was important to address it from as neutral a point of view as possible.  I'm hearing more and more "Why does it have to be so expensive?" and "Why do they charge so much for children?"  It's extremely uncomfortable for people to think of money changing hands at ALL when a child is involved.  I totally get that and 100% agree. The problem is people have to get paid, NOT FOR THE CHILD, but for the services they provide to legally process the adoption.  With the average cost of an international adoption being between $18-30k, I would like to break down where a lot of these fees (based on an Ethiopian adoption...other countries vary slightly but not a terribly amount) go in order, for the most part, they are due. 

The Homestudy - $1500-3000 - This fee goes to a social worker or the agency where the social worker works who spends several weeks working with your family to ensure that you are qualified to adopt.  They do many criminal background checks (often at the county, state, and federal level), a child protection background check, make you do training on adoption and specifically the type of child you are planning to adopt (special needs, older, younger, etc), visit with your family and interview everyone in the home to see if you are prepared and ready, look through your home to see if your home is safe and adequate size for a child, look over your financial situation to see if you can afford to raise said child, etc.  It also includes the costs of photocopying documents, obtaining documents (birth certificates have to be issued recently and they are $10-30 each), passports, etc.  Then they spend a great amount of time typing up a summary, your homestudy, of all their findings which will be a 6-12 page document.  It's a very GOOD thing and the first safety net to make sure certain creepers don't get their hands on children. lol  This person is completely separate from the origin of the child and is also required for US/domestic adoption.

US Immigration - $890 - This fee is for the US office of immigration (USCIS) to look over our information, fingerprint us (yet another background check), and determine if we meet the US criteria to bring a foreigner into the country on a visa.  This fee is also completely separate from the origin of the child.

Adoption Agency fee - $3500-7000, roughly - This fee goes toward paying the social workers who work at the agency for the many hours they spend compiling the children's files and information, helping the families with their paperwork, organizing and compiling a family's dossier, agency overhead, state/federal seals for the documents (this really adds up) as well as courier fees for those documents, training programs for families, etc.

International fee - roughly $4000-5000 - This fee goes to the agency contacts in Ethiopia.  It is spent on paying someone for the translation of the dossier (a very detailed look at your family, including your homestudy and immigration approval); fees for govermentment documents like embassy paperwork, birth certificates, passports, etc.; in country social services (community outreach and services the agency facilitates); facilitation of the adoption (acting as the family's hands and feet in the government agencies in the country to complete the adoption); travel coordination; orphanage fee (upkeep, buying supplies, paying nannies, utilities, etc); and childcare (approximately the amount of money spent on your child's nutrition, medical, schooling, etc. while they are waiting to be picked up).

Travel - $6000-15,000 - Two trips are required for Ethiopia and many/most other countries.  This is approximately how much will be spent on plane tickets ($1500 - 2000 each person/each trip), hotel costs, food costs, transportation costs, etc.  This fee, of course, goes to airlines and in country companies, not to anyone relating to the child.

Embassy Visa - $400 each child - fee for each child to receive a US visa to enter the US as your child.  Again, not a fee associated with the child.


So as you can see, only a small portion of that actually goes into the hands of an adoption agency for their services.  Absolutely ZERO money should ever go into the hands of the families placing their children for adoption and no more than an average salary should ever go into the hands of the facilitator who works in adoption in the country.  It happens and those are the stories that hit the news.  It's widespread, IMO, more than it should be, but that's why it's very important to investigate EXTENSIVELY any situation you consider involving yourself in.  In a perfect world people could work such selfless jobs for no pay, but it doesn't work like that.  


No one likes to talk about the fees relating to adoption, but it's a very real thing and something that can't be ignored.  Just like giving birth to a child costs a great deal of money, so does adoption.  The difference is many people have medical insurance to help cover the costs associated with giving birth.  Families who choose to adopt, must come up with all of that money on their own.  That's understandable and the family knows what they are getting into when they decide to adopt, but they aren't usually prepared for the criticism they get for choosing to adopt or discuss the costs of their adoption.  I can remember my mom saying in a very factual way how much each of our hospital and doctor fees were relating to our births, mostly relating how rapidly it increased over her childbearing years.  I have also discussed this with my kids....i.e. " Kollin, your c-section was $3000, and anesthesia alone was $1800!"  Or "Karly, you spent 9 days in the NICU which ended up costing $42,000!  Thank goodness for good insurance!"  None of that is considered taboo.  It isn't being said in a "you owe me that....turn out good" kind of way.  We don't expect our children feel grateful that we "paid" that for them to be born any less than we expect our adopted children to be grateful we "paid" for their adoption to be legal.  But mention that an adoption costs $x amount and everyone goes insane.  We have discussed it with our adopted children as well.  We explained exactly why their adoptions cost so much and then compared it to how our biological children came with their own costs.  My kids are 100% completely FINE with it and have a healthy view of this.  My adopted kids don't feel like they have to live up to anything because attorneys, social workers, and travel costs totaled $xyz.  It is what it is and we don't skirt around those facts.  It sucks that children sometimes loose parents and need to be adopted.  It sucks that it costs money to legally make that happen.  But it is what it is.  No need to hide it because there's no need for the child or the family to be ashamed of it.  It just is what it is.  



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