Considering an International Adoption
Recently our family began the process to adopt a three year old girl from Eastern Europe with spina bifida. It was not exactly planned, but the opportunity was presented to us and we eventually found ourselves in the thick of the paper work. If you would like to know the details you can follow the process on our adoption blog. To be honest it wasn't an easy decision. After all, international adoptions are expensive, time consuming, and often present a set of long term challenges. Hopefully in this article I can lead you on the same journey we took to finally understand the joy of international adoption.
I will start by saying that domestic adoption is just as needed as international adoption. There are kids everywhere and of all ages that simply want someone to call mom and dad. No one child is more deserving of a family then another. For my family, we had always assumed that we would adopt out of the foster care system once our children were older. Obviously that plan changed just a little and we are glad it has. So, international adoption or domestic adoption, both are worthy needs with more children available than families to take them home.
One of the biggest oppositions to international adoption, well any adoption really, is the cost. It is true, they can be very expensive. Ours will end up costing around $20K once completed. Others can range all the way up to $55K. However, this is not the full story though. It is very hard to put a price on a human life. To this end, there are options and resources to help with these cost. There are several grants out there such as those from Lifesong and Show Hope. Lifesong also provides interest free loans to qualified families. You may also be amazed at how many friends and family members will be willing to help. A large resource, at least currently is the Federal Adoption Tax Credit. This is just over $13K through 2011. With so many resources available the cost really does become less prohibitive.
Another concern is the stress and strain an international adoption can put on a family. There is often an extended stay in the child's country which can be difficult. It is also true that the first years can be very difficult with language barriers, culture barriers, potential abuse damage and the scares left from being rejected and mistreated. These, however, are temporary trials. For us the thought of having a thriving and growing little girl, a daughter with a new life to enjoy all the freedoms that we and our country have to offer, drastically out weighed the initial trials to get there. After all, sometimes the end really does justify the means. Along with that though, there are many state programs and local classes to not only educate, but also support families before, during and after an international adoption. This concern is real, but there is help to be had and amazing joy to be found as the years progress. Climbing Mt. Everest isn't easy, but the view and fame is unparalleled.
The Child's Life
While my wife and I were discussing whether or not to accept this little girl we went through all the objections above and a few others as well. When it came down to it though, all our excuses were selfish. The only thing hindering us was the risk to our own comfort and way of life. After realizing this we started to do a little more research. We soon discovered that, at least in this particular country, special needs kids are moved out of the orphanage and into the mental institute at age four. They do not adopt out of their institutions so the children remain there in a crib until they die. That didn't set well. With a little more research we found the video below which give a glimpse into at least one Eastern Europe institution. We verified with various first person observers that others are similar as well. Worse, they are the norm, not the exception.
A Look Inside an Eastern Europe Mental Institution
The Right Choice
With the only reasons against the international adoption being selfish and the understanding of what actually lay ahead of our little girl if she were to stay there we made a choice. We made the choice to call her ours and work to bring her into our family as soon as we could. We started to look for and hear stories from other families that had gone through an international adoption. What we found was that this simple choice opened our lives and our families lives up to a broader and more complete view of the world. We now have the opportunity to share in the culture of another country. We have the experiences of the travel and seeing areas of the world that we would never have seen otherwise. More importantly we have the the ability to share in the growth and development of a little girl how was once rejected and discarded and is now loved and celebrated. These joys are worth more then any process and initial difficulties could ever take away from. If you have been considering international adoption, do it. It is worth it. If you have never thought of it, well, you should. Take a look and see if you have what it takes to completely change a life!
About the Author
Philip Dean is the owner and author of Random Acts of Parenting. RAOP seeks to relay helpful information to parents, both mothers and fathers, while also taking time to explore the lighter side of parenting. Stop by and enjoy sharing parenting stories, ideas, and lessons learned.